I’m starting at the end since all those gathered about at the end of the match when England didn’t even manage to match BJ’s 205 all by himself, was ‘well, well, well…’ But before we get to the end…
The day dawns dry and with the prospect of being as hot as the previous days – 25C but feels 10c hotter. England need a rearguard for performance to get out of jail free here. But starting at 55/3 needing 208 more just to make NZ bat again looks a tall order.
Root doesn’t look the part and departs to one of the more stupid shots we’ve seen but cometh the hour, cometh the man -Stokes.
Lunch is taken at 98/4 – again slow in terms of run scoring but just what England needed.
Calls from some in the ex-corporate tents now used for mere mortals such as myself until the tent become too packed an like a sauna, included mass sackings, advice on how to play every ball, to detach Yorkshire from the UK and tow it out to sea and to sack Root as captain.
Roots captaincy seems to have gone backwards over the recent months – he had the benefit of the wisdom of Sir A until last summer, the egofest which is Anderson and Broad has diminished (and perhaps did his captaining for him?) and he doesn’t seem to inspire the team or spectators.
His batting has been badly affected and his additional bowling role cannot have helped but there we are. There’s no or little chirping in the field when things get tough and the whole thing just seems like ‘something to be done’. And I don’t mean just this test…the Ashes series was also poorly captained and if it were not for Stokes and a few umpiring errors…
So…does he go or does he stay?
Buttler is the only realistic alternative which is not saying a lot. The team is in transition and will continue to be so for a while. The reliance on Bairstow and Stokes to provide the batting powerhouse cannot be taken for granted.
And as for this match – bowling choices were poorly made; Archer not handled at all well – ‘just bowl bouncers’ seems to have been the order of the day – and the lack of any management when things go wrong or not as planned was too obvious. Plan A is in place and as I’ve said before Plan B is to repeat Plan A until it works! Or so it seems
Anyway, the slow pace may have upset a few spectators here and at home but the morning session was marginally England’s.
The afternoon was definitely NZ’s as first they took Stokes to a stupid loose shot (again how many times have I said this in the past five days) Denly was unlucky to have been caught off his glove, whilst Buttler (spotted last night in delights of Tauranga’s CBD) went to one of the most stupid shots ever. Curran S and Archer rallied the score from 138/8 to close to 200 but the inevitable end came with Broad lbw to a full toss. What has Broad done in this game?
Interestingly Radio NZ cricket commentary team spent most of the day debating whether England were in one-day mode, five day-save-the-test-at-all-cost mode or somewhere between and getting horribly lost? I think I know where I stand on this!
All credit though to NZ – they climbed their mountain out of trouble on Saturday morning (key session that one…especially in silence), ploughed on regardless for the rest of Saturday and almost all of Sunday (it seems 615/9 dec is their best ever score against England!). They learnt from their mistakes, played as a team and deserved their win. They can drink deep tonight from the well of victory.