Here’s a post for your thoughts and comments on the second day’s play, as it progresses, plus more of your reaction to day one. I must stress that other websites are available.
Unfortunately, resources at TFT are a little scant today, but I’ll update and expand this post later today, including a look at Andrew Strauss’s interview on TMS.
But a few quick thoughts. Yesterday’s batting performance by England was an extension – and on a greater scale – of the pattern they established in the West Indies. Strength, depth and confidence in the middle order; flimsy fragility in the top order. England have alternate layers of balsa wood and mahogany. Alastair Cook was dismissed to a shot of which he’s unlikely to be proud.
New Zealand, to me, seemed rather under-prepared. Having virtually just got off the plane from the West Indies, England could have been jaded – but Root, Stokes, Buttler and Moeen, at least, seem to be still in the groove off the back of a three-test series. We’ll see later whether that also applies to the bowlers.
Anyway, must dash, I’m afraid. But more later.
New Zealand are proceeding very comfortably at 263-2, trailing now by 126, with Kane Williamson 66* and Ross Taylor 37*. They’re batting fluently and with brio. Both the pitch and England look flat, especially the latter. According to Shane Warne on Sky, Alastair Cook is “just letting the game happen”.
Earlier, in the afternoon session, England bowled reasonably well without ever looking very penetrative. Can this attack bowl out Australia (and of course, New Zealand before them) when conditions offer little swing? And how do England work their way through a batting line-up when Anderson doesn’t fire? On debut, Mark Wood has looked nippy and aggressive, although less so since tea.
Earlier, England’s tail failed to wag, as they subsided from an overnight 354-7 to 389 all out. England lost their last four wickets for 35 runs.
But as play continues let’s have a look at Andrew Strauss’s interviews yesterday. On Test Match Special, he had the following to say about his decision to extend the ban on Kevin Pietersen.
It is a funny situation. When I decided to take this on, the Kevin Pietersen issue was one that needed clearing up. I thought it was important we had some clarity on it and the players weren’t involved in the decision. It was an ECB one. You have to go with what you think is best. I am a believer in the idea that the environment of a team helps them to perform.
I am not apportioning blame but it has happened. In order to create that environment in the short term this is the decision we have made. Who knows what the future holds. For the time being it is right for this England team to continue the development they have made in the last 12 months. There are some good players in that middle order.
To date, Strauss is proving every bit as fluent in evasive waffle as his predecessor, the Dark Lord Downton. Does he honestly believe that he has “cleared up” and brought “some clarity” to the issue? His position is that Pietersen is still excluded, not forever but for an unspecified period of time in the short to medium term. He has not explained when or why things could change or why it might be acceptable to recall Pietersen in the future but not now.
The only reason he can provide for opposing Pietersen is a vague reference, made in previous interviews, to “massive trust issues”, without explaining what they are or how they would impact on team performance, He has cleared up and clarified nothing whatsoever.
In this exchange he also introduced the idea that Pietersen is being kept out in order to create a team environment conducive to progress. This rhetoric is similar to Downton’s in the past. It was Strauss’s duty to explain exactly what this means, and he failed to fulfil it. In what way, precisely, would Pietersen’s presence inhibit the development of an effective environment, whatever that nebulous term itself means. During the TMS interview, he was not asked these questions.
Is this ECB code for ‘Pietersen would air his views if he disagreed with Cook, and this sets a bad example to younger players, of whom we expect total doctrinal obedience’? And does Strauss also believe that, after all that’s happened, Pietersen – who is so desperate to return to England he forfeited a £250,000 paycheque – wouldn’t knuckle down and act in a disciplined way?
By alluding to” good players in that middle order” Strauss probably meant to imply there is no place available for Pietersen anyway. But this is irrelevant. No one asked for Pietersen to walk straight back into the side. All that was asked was he be treated in the same manner as any other player, and be eligible for selection.
Another detail: as Nigel posted on our comments board:
[Strauss also made a] rather breathtaking remark to Agnew: “Let’s not make this about personalities..” Can anyone explain how the Pietersen affair isn’t about personalities?
Strauss also told the BBC that the new England coach may not start work until after the Ashes, which implies that (a) they want Jason Gillespie and (b) he will take the job but (c) not until he completes the current county season with Yorkshire.
Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph’s Nick Hoult reported today that Gillespie has had “positive talks” with Strauss and “will accept the England job if offered”.
Gillespie had been concerned over the scope of the coach’s role after Strauss made a number of key decisions on his first day in the job as director of cricket last week. He appointed Alastair Cook as Test captain, Eoin Morgan in charge of the one-day side and in effect sacked Kevin Pietersen for the second time.
Gillespie said earlier this week he would “take some persuading” to leave Yorkshire but has been assured by Strauss he will have full control over the team and the power to make changes as he sees fit.
Strauss also said yesterday that:
The new coach is going to be given the opportunity and space to do his job as he should be. He is not going to be a whipping boy for me or anyone else.
He has to run the show as he sees fit and have a good close working relationship with the captain. I have got to help him to do what he needs to do. I am there to help and support him and look a bit more strategically and long term in our planning. If we have that situation we can co-exist quite happily.
“I am not going to be one of those guys always knocking on the dressing room door telling him he has to do this and that. It has got to be his show to run. I am going to get out of the way, allow him to do his job and the captain to do the job.
Which is as it should be, but at least Strauss has realised as much. A key point here is allowing the captain to do his job, just as much as the coach. I can’t help feeling that in recent years, and especially under Cook’s premiership, too much of the captain’s role has seeped into the coach’s brief. There’s already been discussion during this test match about the credit due to Paul Farbrace, the acting coach, for switching Ben Stokes to six in the batting order. Isn’t the captain, not the coach, supposed to decide who bats where?,
Regardless, the identity of the Peter Moores’s replacement now appears virtually certain. Barring mishap, the ECB will appoint as their new coach Jason Gillespie – the candidate many of us on this side of the fence said should have got the job in April last year, instead of Moores, whom every right-minded person knew would be a disaster (again). If only the ECB had used some common sense and hired the Australian at that first opportunity, thus sparing us an entire year of agony.
Oh well. Being, as we are, ignoramus know-nothings, how could we possible have judged what was right for English cricket?
Despite the utter obviousness of hiring Gillespie, the ECB have still engaged a head-hunting firm to line up candidates for the job. The short-list also includes Gary Kirsten, Trevor Bayliss and Tom Moody. Clearly, only an expensive specialist agency could possibly have had the knowledge and imagination to identify those four individuals.
Meanwhile, it’s time for another game of England’s new summer pastime: ECB Corporate Bullshit Bingo. Here are some more quotes from yesterday’s Strauss interviews. Eyes down.
We want to get the right man to ensure his philosophies co-exist with mine and then we will move forward together to try and take English cricket to the right place.
A number of people are interested and there are a number of really good candidates out there. It is up to me to decide who is the right person to take English cricket forward.
Have you got the message yet? IT’S TIME TO MOVE FORWARD.
On Sky Sports at tea, David Gower interviewed Derek Brewer, chief executive of the only private club in the United Kingdom which exercises control over a public asset: the MCC. The piece focused on exciting redevelopment plans for the Warner Stand, for which seats are only available for members’ guests. Sadly, Gower did not ask Brewer why tickets for this test, at Lord’s, are fifty eight per cent more expensive than equivalent seats for the second New Zealand test, at Headingley – as we discussed on Wednesday.
Short and sweet Maxie, still chance for a dig at cook though eh ;)
30-4 was looking terrible but I thought our top order got out to good deliveries esp Bell & Lyth… good to see England scoring at 4 an over for the first time in a very long time.
Wasn’t Cook’s best though, was it. . Ball was there to hook, but he looked late on it – getting out hooking when you’re 25 for 2 never ideal.
Until NZ bat hard to tell if the top order really failed as in most test matches comment should be reserved after both side’s innings I tend to agree that Bell and Lyth got out to decent balls. The game is evenly poised.
The ball’s swinging. Made for James Anderson.
tell him to pitch it up
How has that worked for you Mr ECB Hack??
Mr ECB Hack??
That’s not very polite, or particularly fair.
I disagree with most of what Peter writes, but I think his opinions are perfectly genuine.
This has another Lords boreathon written all over it – a bit in it for the bowlers on the first morning and then a pitch that doesn’t look like it’d deteriorate if you played on it for 10 days.
Wood looks lively though.
Both sides very much in with a chance of a win, I’d say.
England need wickets after lunch. I can’t see NZ collapsing in the 4th innings.
If NZ get any kind of lead, England are fragile. The Tests they’ve lost of late have been as a result of 2nd team innings collapses.
Most recent Lord’s Tests have been results, or close draws, I think. Am I right? Lord’s seems to have more or less exactly the right balance between bat and ball, at the moment.
They’ve been reliant on overhead conditions recently. The pitch is flat, and never has anything in it for a spinner. Yesterday, we had an hour where the ball nipped about and then flattened out.
It doesn’t help that England offer no threat after the ball is 20 overs old, although hopefully Wood keeps his pace up.
The fact remains that there have only been 2 draws in 13 Tests since 2009, and the last draw was a nail-biter.
You’re absolutely right – I stand corrected. My short term memory’s obviously going because there was a period when Lords tests were pretty much guaranteed to end up a draw because it was as easy to bat on day 5 as day 1.
there was a bit of turn for moeen, he just didnt exploit it as much, both team dont have much of a striking spinner.
Oh for an English Spinner !!!!!!
We so need an out and out spinner – Mr Straus you need to start looking on the circuit have a butchers in the Yorkshire Area !!!!
Or you need to start letting the designated drinks carrier have the odd game…
New Zealand, to me, seemed rather under-prepared.
Williamson, for example, hasn’t played a Test innings for five months…
Which doesn’t seem to have inconvenienced him too much today.
If this match leads to greatly reduced preciousness on the part of England about the transition from white-ball to red-ball cricket it will at least have accomplished something.
I can imagine Richie enjoying saying “It’s 2 for 202.”
Those headhunters must see the ECB coming from a mile away.
This little nugget about the selection of coach and captain was tucked away at the end of one of George Dobell’s reports:
““These are decisions that are no longer made entirely on a cricketing basis. They are made, in part, with a view towards regaining the faith of sponsors and spectators. And if that sounds cynical, it is worth recording that, after news of Moores’ sacking and Strauss’ appointment broke, Strauss and Tom Harrison, the new ECB chief executive, spent the evening phoning sponsors and inviting them to ask any question they liked. That has not happened before”.
“Would you say winning the Ashes is part of your current plans?”
Didn’t Strauss say that these two tests didn’t matter? Rumour has it that he’s building for the future. Another two or more years then to build for the future?
Well to be honest all that stuff about winning series is a bit of a red herring.
Modern English cricket is more about assembling a side of likeable, easily managed fellows to represent the ECB at prestigious corporate events.
Now there will be a few cricket matches dropped into the schedule and the team is going to try jolly hard, whether they like cricket or not, and you can’t really say fairer than that.
“Just what exactly is it that you’ve got against KP ?
… and please don’t give us any of that ‘trust’ BS.”
‘Gillespie said earlier this week he would “take some persuading” to leave Yorkshire but has been assured by Strauss he will have full control over the team and the power to make changes as he sees fit.’ Note it says “full control over the team!”
“We want to get the right man to ensure his philosophies co-exist with mine and then we will move forward together to try and take English cricket to the right place.”
I wouldn’t trust Strauss (or anyone else at the ECB) to tie my shoelaces. Strauss is just another unbelievable establishment, double-talking, muppet.
This idea that the head hunters have been out and about again sounds another lot of BS. That was said last time when the ECB were choosing their Head of Cricket? I think everyone on here and on Dmitri’s blog knew that Strauss was the only one in the running. Mention was made of Stewart and Vaughan but of course they would choose KP so they were out of the running before they got off the starting block.
Now Strauss trying to say that the Headhunters are out and names mentioned, such as Kirsten – No chance of getting him because he would demand full control. This job was Gillespie’s from the start. Clearly, Graves set it up for him. Why more BS from them all? Do they think we are all that gullible. Well now we will see who does really have the final say: Strauss or new man? I won’t hold my breath that Strauss will ever allow anyone to have the final say except him! Sorry if this upsets anyone but I think Mr Strauss is a first class pillock. Downton number 2.
As someone said! It’s all change at the ECB as everything stays the same. I’m truly pissed off and Simon Hughes piece didn’t help. Still Boycott saying that Simon Hughes’ stuff on batting was rubbish did give me smile.
The Australian press have been reporting rumours that Gillespie is going to be unveiled as England coach on Tuesday.
I wish I could hear that bit of Sir Geoffrey bursting Simon’s fragile ego – it would have made a crappy day, just that little bit sweeter imagining the Analyst fuming with indignation at this assault on his craft – What does Boycott know about Cricket anyway LOL!
He said that what he (Hughes) knows about batting you could stick on the back of a postage stamp!….Priceless!!
How many runs did simon get? About 8.5 says Boycott. Screamer.
The tickets are so priced because they can sell them and bring money into the game. I will be surprised if the tickets sold at Headingley will reach half the number sold for Lord’s or a quarter of the revenue. Someone has to subsidise unpopular venues unless all the matches are to be played in London.
England are really missing Swann. I always felt he was the difference between the sides in 2013 Ashes – particularly troublesome for the number of left handers Australia had at the time, and I think its been proved since his departure. Anderson is a workhorse, brilliant at times, but his and Broad’s 30ish average won’t ever put them in the league of great bowlers and means they will have sessions like today where they lack penetration.
Anderson is a remarkable bowler, not least for his longevity, but he is great only when the conditions really suit him.
Broad, as Scyld Berry pointed out, since 2013 has only twice taken more than three wickets in a Test innings…
And you’re right – since Swann went, England lack an alternative threat to the bog standard seamers.
Moeen is a decent bowler, but like Stokes, Jordan et al, really in the team only as an all rounder.
If Stokes is batting at six, and Buttler at seven, it would again make more sense to try Rashid, who has the potential to be that alternative threat (and he wouldn’t weaken the batting much, either).
England always seem to play one too many all rounders and one too few genuine bowlers. They should make the all rounders compete for their place.
Else where coaches are being given more control in who they want in their team and allowed to go about it!
Wondered if you might like to see this little gem of a conversation care of Mr Simon Hughes.
Ann Weatherly-Barton @xpressanny
‘I’ factor rules out Kevin Pietersen from being part of the team What a really awful piece @the analyst.
@xpressanny @theanalyst he told me he loves KP a couple of weeks ago but never heard him say anything nice about him.
I’m gobsmacked. No mention of twitter a/c. No mention of bullying: @NHoultCricket piece: Root bullied. Constant lies.
simon hughes @theanalyst
@xpressanny i was slagged off on the field for some of my efforts. I did not cry or run to mummy
Missed this last night but just replied:
Ooh that is so unkind. Is that why u r always slagging off KP? What of Cook? He certainly whinges when given ruff time?
Gee whizz. This really is all about jealousy isn’t it? Such sourness and bitterness.
yup thats what it comes down to, we just dont like the cut of his jib.
I mean KP is not a drinker, or scandal guy like warne or ryder. Text gate was blown out of proportion and has been hung on KP’s neck. Apart from that none of the stuff KP has done can even be remotely be viewed as unselectable crime.