Tests at their best

One of the advantages of writing this blog contemporaneously is that I can either be immediately proved correct or a complete fool – and I achieved the latter today!

That winning moment!

After a nauseous night of disturbed sleep, nibbling ginger nuts at the cricket seems to have mollified my insides which now seem to belong to me!

Another early start to catch up for the weekend’s rain and a slightly cooler day than yesterday beckons.

England start needing 210 runs, NZ 9 wickets. The English bats soon oblige with Robinson lasting a very short time, Duckett didn’t seem settled and Pope dancing down the pitch to every ball which seemed odd and did little to persuade the faithful that he was not ill at ease and playing/missing more than he should.

Brook – the current chosen one to be the next ‘everything’ – came and went without facing a ball as fellow Yorkie Root ran him out calling for a swift single but you do need to run your bat in! Haven’t looked at his current Test average but it’s probably slightly less than stratospheric! NZ found a way to get him out cheaply!

All this means England are 80/5 in no time but by lunch recover to 168/5 with Root dominating the scoring; Stokes’ knee clearly hindering him in mind and body. With the Ashes looming Stokes’ knee should become the next national obsessive news story requiring daily medical bulletins! But I suspect not!

Finding a spot at this ground which is not too hot, not too cold, not too windy, not too steep and not disturbed by wandering walkers would give Goldilocks a challenge; it must be here somewhere but after four days and a session I can’t find it! But people-watching the wandering walkers makes me feel thin!

At lunch, it looks as if NZ’s fate is sealed – less than 100 needed, one quick retired injured, one all heart but little else and a spinner who would struggle in county cricket – I suspect a tea time finish.

How wrong can I be?

The injured quick was back after lunch, the spinner…well ‘nuf said and the whole hearted bowler – Wagner – came good and how! Last week he couldn’t buy a wicket and now he’s the bees knees!

From 168/5 England collapse to 201/8 – Stokes’ knee obviously causing issues, Root needed one poor shot, and then Broad just tried to be clever and looked stupid. Foakes and Leech managed to get the total to within single figures before Foakes also played a false shot and it was left to Anderson to see England over the line! But NO!

NZ had other ideas! Accurate fast bowling by all three – Southee, Wagner and Henry – pinned England back and Anderson was last out with two runs needed! An NZ win by one run!

Now…that’s the cold hard facts but words cannot describe the tension, atmosphere and sheer squeaky time everyone endured for the last hour! The closest test match I’ve ever seen. As exciting for me as Botham’s 5/28 against Australia in 1981 – and I’ve met enough people who says they were there to fill the ground twice over! I expect the same for ‘Wellington 2023’

An amazing match with mistakes on both sides but clawed back and hard fought. I doubt if I shall ever see another test as good!

One thing it did prove was that Bazzball seems to be all about hooking and when it works, it’s great but when it doesn’t it’s awful – and a number of English bats were at fault.

But let’s not detract from a fantastic game. Hopefully my nerves will recover! It’s worth noting that when the sun shines, the light for photos here is especially ‘clear’ But to give you a flavour of the day, here are a few snaps…

Keep your eyes on the ball ready to catch Robinson!
Pope played and missed
Southee in full flow
Wagner – full of commitment
Keepers standing up for the quicks seems to be the new norm
Slog/hook – bazball style?
Henry in full flight – literally
Leech defends
Foakes sweeps
Anderson takes up ballet
Look at the surprise on Leech’s face!

Tomorrow, dear reader, it’s back to tourism with a fly-drive on the South Island and I’m not even half way through my travels yet! Australia – and a Sheffield Shield game – beckons!


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