A surreal morning to say the least at the Cloud!
Started by stewards asking me if I was here for the cricket? I was tempted to reply ‘no, I’ve come for the over-50 nude synchronised trampolining training’ but thought better of it. Why else would anyone brandishing a ticket and membership card go to a cricket ground when cricket is being played?
The first 45 minutes just added to the surreal nature – by which time NZ had reached 19 for 6 – yes, 19/6! Only Mitchell from the top order offered any resistance, the others expecting the pitch and bounce to be a bit better and suffered accordingly. Porter had taken 5 for 6 with seam movement but then Southee got after him (and others) so Porter ended the session on 5 for 18.
This time yesterday the FCC bowlers were looking like local league bowlers against a Test side! What a difference 24 hours makes and you wouldn’t get this change in a one day match!
The mentioned Southee struck some lusty blows, de Grandhomme played on but Wagner and Jamieson steadied the ship to lunch on 102/8 and a lead of 217. Is that enough?
One wonders if the Kiwis have been sabotaged by excessive Chelmsford hospitality overnight or with no edge to this match just using it as extended nets as we’ve now seen 17 NZ players in total.
During lunch a small number of people – including families with toddlers – strayed into the outfield and started a gentle game with bat and ball. Clearly they’d missed the edict from on high not to do so since after five minutes the rudest steward I’ve ever seen orders them off and back into their seats. The steward looked ready to mete out a punishment more severe than when you’ve been ambushed by a birthday cake. Heard those families say that they’ll not come back again!
Meanwhile after lunch, NZ move to 148ao and a lead of 263. Again the FCC let them off the hook – 19/6 should not have reached 100! England will not be so ‘kind’. That leaves FCC 135 overs to score 264 but against Wagner, Jamieson, de Grandhomme, Henry, Patel and the up and coming Duffy and Ticknell?
By tea FCC reach 26/0 off 12 overs; slow going but setting their stall out for later progress.
At the close FCC reach 112/1 – 153 more needed to win. Sibley the only wicket to fall but if you only take one catch in four, then winning is going to be even harder. NZ seem to be off their game today, collectively not blending as a team and short of match practice but then when you’ve had 17 players involved over three days, the cohesion is not there.
I suppose it’s all preparation for what is to come but it would be a psychological boost for England if the FCC can force a win but context is everything and not a trampoline in sight!