Your views and comments welcome as day three progresses. As I write, New Zealand are 314-2, trailing by 75, and Kane Williamson has just reached a deserved Lord’s century. I enjoyed watching him bat yesterday, an experienced acutely described here by Lord Canis Lupus.
So…can England make the imminent new ball count? Can Alastair Cook find a way to force wickets? All will New Zealand bat themselves to a match-winning lead?
An enthralling day of ebb and flow, and although New Zealand had the better of it, and remain on top, this match is hard to call. On paper the scorecard suggests a draw but there are two days left, and England, not only the Kiwis, could still win from here.
The visitors have played the better cricket, and batted with resilience, authority and attacking intent. That’s despite England bowling pretty well, especially today – although they didn’t aim at the stumps enough, certainly less than the Kiwis.
Stuart Broad sent down a couple of his best spells in ages. Mark Wood, on the evidence so far, looks the most promising of the third seamers England have tried since the 2013/14 Ashes: more than Liam Plunkett, Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes. Wook looks zesty and aggressive, with a bit of something about him. Will England’s coaches manage to avoid messing him up?
That said, England still conceded 523. They can only boss the opposition, in the field, when Anderson is on song. If he’s not taking wickets, Alastair Cook has little in reserve except short-ball tactics, which are usually crudely sign-posted.
Tomorrow, Cook’s innings will probably decide the match. If he falls early, you can easily envisage England failing to set New Zealand any kind of target. But if he bats till five o’clock, the balance of power will have significantly shifted.
A few talking points. In the afternoon session a declined LBW appeal against Corey Anderson was referred to the third umpire (in this case Rod Tucker, who we now hear on the TV coverage – which is interesting). The ball-tracking then adjudged ‘wickets’ as ‘umpire’s call’, and Anderson was reprieved. In the commentary box, Ian Botham railed against the consequence for New Zealand: losing one of their reviews. His logic was – why should you lose a review on umpire’s call, when the ball was actually hitting the stumps?
To me, this rule seems absolutely right and proper. The purpose of DRS is to help avoid genuine howlers – incidents when the on-field umpire gets the decision wrong by miles. DRS should not lead to LBW calls being routinely referred to the computer. But that would happen if fielding sides did not lose a review for ‘umpire’s call’.
The risk of forfeiting a review acts a deterrent against frivolous or speculative appeals. If captains knew an ‘umpire’s call’ caused no harm, they’d review many more LBWs, spoiling the flow of the game and giving too much power to the ball-tracking system.
Or have I got this wrong? What do you think?
I also wanted to expand on my reference to Lord Canis Lupus’s post last night. He said:
The events of the past 15 months have seen my attitude to cricket change considerably. I had been a truly passionate supporter of England, and while I always appreciated the great players around the world, I would get to dislike some of them based on the fact that they weren’t from my team. You can’t help who you are.
Now, with the nonsense of the past 15 months, with no sign of any meaningful contrition, I watch the matches with a more neutral perspective. This time a couple of years ago the performances this evening of Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson would have driven me mad. Instead I watched as a man struggling with his body, and to some extent his game, in Ross Taylor battle gainfully, fighting hard, grafting. I love that in a player.
Then there was the almost too perfect Kane Williamson, looking every part the true class batsman he is. It was almost inevitable he made runs, looking totally in tune with his game, and rarely, if ever, looking threatened. I’m preparing the next instalment of Century Watch for the inevitable… (that’ll curse him). It’s early days, I know, and this will be just two tests, but do you remember how, in the mid 2000s, every time Mohammed Yousuf came to the crease, you knew he’d score runs? I felt like that with Kane today.
This really struck a chord with me. Until February 2014 I was the worst kind of one-eyed England supporter. All I cared about, whenever England were playing, was that England won. I could never take an iota of pleasure from an opponent’s performance. Every run they scored, every wicket they took, hurt our chances of winning.
Each time Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar or Ricky Ponting came out to bat against us, I wanted them to get a duck.
Nowadays the world is a different place, at least for some of us. I watched the spectators at Lord’s today, cheering patriotically, as if nothing had happened, and wonder how things look through their eyes.
Unlike most of them, I cannot identify myself with the England team like I did before 4th February 2014. I cannot wildly celebrate the achievements of a team representing a cricket board who hate me, my friends, and every other England supporter. So now I watch England matches in a different way. The outcome of the match means rather less. But the skill, artistry and character of each cricketer’s performance, on either side, means rather more.