Day 2 dawns with less humidity and zero risk of rain. The morning sun will dry out the pitch as will the prevailing wind so – in theory – batting will become easier each day (until it’s time for the after-dark lottery!)
Resuming on 37/3, the Kiwis begin well against the Broaderson attack with little obvious deviation in any direction. The gods evened up the dismissal off a no ball but it wasn’t until the Broad plan to bounce the bats out when a wicket fell – Wagner – but he had taken 16 off the first three balls!
The plan was writ so large it could be seen from deep space and looked increasingly stupid – only two in front of the wicket and a ring alongside the leg side boundary. Ok, it worked but when your team has the luck in its side then such plans will work. When you don’t, they won’t!
However what is fascinating is that the whole of the first hour was played in extremely reverential silence from the whole crowd! Not a murmur hum or anything – strangely eerie!
Interesting post-break strategy from England – either something has been said about over rates or the plan had to be changed. Spin introduced as was running between ends at the end of each over.
At the time I write this – 3.30pm – there are 71 overs left in the day and NZ scoring at 3po from 112/5 could – in theory be 330 by the close. However allowing for say 30 overs in the last session, scores could be level by the end (not taking any issues regarding the lottery into account!).
So do England want that? Should they dismiss NZ asap and bat session two, to extend the lead and keep their nerve during the lottery; in fact the lottery could be NZs only chance to win (roll England over cheaply, knuckle down and win the chase on Day 4).
Or does the Kiwi strategy play into English hands? Roll over a chasing side?
Anyway after Break 1, England strike with a bit of spin – 182/7 at one stage.
Walking around this bowl of an arena, you can experience burning bright sun in one area or bring your own deck chair and sit in the teeth of a strong breeze the next.
Apologies if there’s not so much detail and photos than usual but as I go on my wanderings, I meet friends and acquaintances I haven’t seen in some time – so we chat and have a good catch up.
Late afternoon with schools out and working week done, the locals arrive in numbers – the noise levels will increase and chanting rents the cooling breezes!
By break two NZ are 237/8 – 80 or so behind. New dad Blundell 80no and Conway 77 are the top scorers to date (Wagner 27 is next best) with Robinson best of the bowlers and improving with every outing. It looks increasingly likely to me that Broad is increasingly ineffective and time to go…but I fear the HR management skills at the ECB are ill- equipped to manage such a large ego.
Break two also sees fans on the outfield wandering around, impromptu games and the odd mini picnic. I expect to hear that the Lords groundstaff are apoplectic at the very thought!
The ground is situated in the middle of a large industrial estate and NZs largest port as well as Tauranga being a seaside haven so it seems a bit incongruous but I reckon this is the only test ground in the world where you can see a ‘waterfall’ of salt in full flow.
The last session saw Blundell progress to 130 before holing out and ably supported by Ticknell for 3 (a Jack Russell performance from a Jack Russell lookalike).
The English bowling by this time looked appalling (can’t be tired only bowled 62 overs in two and a half sessions) but Blundell gave the England side a taste of their own philosophy and they weren’t best pleased.
We’ve seen over the years in English sport this sense of arrogance when things go well and outright child petulance when it doesn’t and their Plan B (if they had one) didn’t work!
NZ were allowed to dominate and to end on 306 was excellent with Blundell being brilliant! So innings three will be as important as ever – a lead of 19 should really have been 119!
I know dear reader that some of the technical detailed areas of cricket are akin to teaching a labrador Serbo-Croat, but I’m convinced since I saw him last, Foakes has changed his keeping routine, taking a small forward movement as the fast bowler bowls. This may appear to be insignificant but his position determines other fielders who need to know that he now does this. If not, slip catches could be spilled!
Anyway, England’s second innings sees the day done at 79/2 – lead of 98. No real alarms or excursions, other than a blooper of a catch by NZ – both fielders found it difficult to judge the ball and then another chapter of the continual farce of helmets not fitting!
Paying and watching public diddled out of 7 overs (plus 11 yesterday), but no one gives a ****!
In other news, I’m certain that my luggage has been kidnapped and is being held hostage by a load of incompetent crooks – they’re struggling to work out how to demand release money! 😜