Monday – always hard graft

Please remember these blogs are written contemporaneously with the day’s play – so if I write something silly which later proves to be wise and vice versa…hopefully you’ll understand

The day dawned ‘bright and breezy’ with no rain in the forecast boding well for a full day’s play.

Incidentally, Gabrielle may not be featuring in news bulletins any more but the aftermath is still being felt. Communities are struggling to recover – silt is covering roots of trees and plants and slowly strangling them, roads still damaged or washed away, several people still unaccounted for. The media may scream and shout when things first happen but move on oh so quickly!

By lunch NZ have reached 325/5 – a lead of 99 with 50s from Mitchell and Williamson – the latter becoming NZ’s highest run scorer in tests. This is true hard graft test cricket. No quarter asked nor being given!

The views from around the ground are varied today as at sometimes you need warmth, other times cooling and at other times, shelter from the breeze. The banks look attractive as place to watch from but require so much strength to stop you rolling down, or deck chairs planted into the side. An alternative is to lay flat to spread the weight but then you have to crane your neck to watch.

The locals have worked it out to a tee! They arrive armed with an armful of folding chairs none of which are searched even though they’re large enough to conceal any number of weapons and devices. Water in opened bottles on the other hand has to be poured away! Priorities?

Meanwhile, Williamson ploughs on, a century beckons as does 400 and a lead approaching 200 with tea half an hour away. Any result is possible from here!

And so it came to pass – 423/5 at tea. A nominal 43 overs today and 90 tomorrow mean there’s plenty of life in this match yet. England need to re-assert their authority before the close of play although the pitch is getting flatter and flatter (another fans on the outfield at lunch confirmed this) so any target is probably within their range.

As befits a Monday, it’s hard work out there for both sides – the pitch getting better for batting, the bowlers straining and (it has to be said) not a lot of initiative or trying something different from time to time.

No side nowadays does ‘what the opposition least expects’ – plans are religiously stuck too, tried and tested methods work but then – as in most things – something completely unexpected and unplanned can bring the best results. So, give it a go! You never know!

Immediately after tea there’s no sign of Anna Doorsbred for a good 20 minutes or so…perhaps she’s a bit fatigued given her collective years? 😜

And lo! As I write Brook is asked to turn his arm over! Perhaps they should ask me to advise? 😜😜

And in his second over obliges – Williamson feathering an edge to Foakes and minutes later Bracewell is run out in the most casual of manners. So at drinks in the final session NZ are 478/7. Williamson not happy to go for 132 but a sublime knock nonetheless.

NZ collapse in a casual manner to 483ao with Blundell the last to go for 90; Leach taking 5 but Anna was off form taking 1 for 156. England need 258 to win with a day (90) and a nominal 16 overs today. Any result is possible.

England end on 48/1. Crawley scraped 24 together but surely a long spell in county cricket beckons? Hard graft again tomorrow but at least it’s not Monday

And a selection of photos to give a flavour of the day…

Robinson created a few early problems
Classic shots from Williamson
Defence too!
Dangerous places!
And so they continue…
Blundell too!
Brook’s first ball
And celebrating his first Test wicket!

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