And The Beat(ing) Goes On – 2nd Test Introduction (and Live Blog)

Well hello. Another couple of quiet days in the lead up to the second test of a two match series. Nothing has happened in the cricketing world, everyone is getting along just famously, and there’s nothing to get hot under the collar about. The sniff of county cricket is in the air, there are no problems with the running of the game anywhere in the world, everyone’s now satisfied as the World Cup line-up is finalised, and journalists and administration walk together hand in hand, as the sunlit uplands of England summer 2018 beckons. Drink it in. It’s lovely.

A lot of pieces I write have personal slants thrown in. How I feel, what it means to me, what I see right or wrong. I know that goes down well with some, and not so well with others. I think the personal reactions, rather than what I think goes down well for visits and hits is what this blog was built upon. I am an emotional person and no-one is going to confuse me with stable approaches to this, or to life. I have packed the blog in on a number of occasions, only to come back and write. I had a meltdown in writing after the reaction to Cook’s 244 not out, when I couldn’t believe (or actually could but couldn’t take) the reaction as if this was some amazing feat, not a career saving knock of little importance. I stayed off writing for a couple of months, which is a long time for me, and still wonder if I should continue. Days, or a week, like this actually doesn’t clarify much. I’m going to have to take positions to defend. Defending the way I do can appear aggressive, when I don’t mean it to be. I then analyse what people might think of me, and there becomes a vicious circle or rage and doubt. Writing a blog isn’t good for the soul, and yet it’s something I love. Like a form of self harm for the brain. If watching England was therapeutic, I’ve gone to the wrong clinic. But their incapability isn’t making me angry any more. It’s making me bored. And being bored and writing blogs is not a good mix.

Yes, I’m rambling along, because to write a blog requires the fuel. My fuel is anger at the game. So by rights, coming into this second test after a lamentable display in the first, I should be firing on all cylinders for the second test. But I’m not. How can you be? England’s test team is like an aged pop/rock band looking for a comeback single to kick start their careers again. The lead singer, Root, still has the songwriting talent, but he’s rather forgotten to put the melody with the tune. Stokes is the mad drummer, who might end up getting everyone out of rhythm. Mooen Ali has forgotten to tune up his guitar, Anderson and Broad just sing backing vocals these days, while Stoneman is lobbying for a place as the triangle player. Cook, the keyboard player, is handing over the duties to the pre-programmed inputs, only putting in the big ones when the new album contract is up, but fooling his public that he’s instrumental to the band. Others are hanging around hoping for a deal, and to get on the next stadium tour, but instead resigned to years of singing in the pub with a put together band hoping for stardom. This isn’t exciting, it’s actually quite sad and dispiriting.

Yep, England have that end of the road feeling, and the last gig, in picturesque Hagley Oval is the chance to recreate the old hits, or do a crappy cover version of Every Loser Wins. James Vince may return on bass, as Woakes forgot to turn the amp on last time out. Jack Leach has a new guitar, but he may not be able to take it out of its case. Mark Wood may bring in a new brass section to replace Craig Overton’s tambourine, but there’s plenty chance it won’t fit in with the band concept, and the…. oh just pack it in. There was a joke about rust, which I won’t go near. This analogy is as tortured as the routine Steve Smith was forced to go through this morning.

I doubt New Zealand will make many changes. If any. There are analysts who say that Hagley is not a place for spinners, so that may see Leach left out. Vince coming in is just nonsense, but what can you say any more? This England team are on their last test of the winter, we have a pretty crappy record in last tests, the confidence is shot, the attitude is of survival and despair, the team conveys no swagger (not that that is always a good thing), the bowlers can’t bowl teams out, the batsmen can’t put two decent innings together, the stalwarts are ageing with no replacements, the new guys are struggling, and England is in a mess, with the hope that coming home will cure all ills.

Now, as this game starts at a reasonable hour we might do some live blogging on the site tonight. No promises that it will go on for ever, but please join us if you can for at least the first couple of hours. We enjoyed it during the Ashes, and it’s not as if there isn’t much to talk about.

We’ve spoken a lot about the Australian Ball Tampering Crisis. The events of today have been well chronicled in the comments to Chris’s post below. From a personal standpoint, and referring back to the earlier comments about emotions, I felt gravely uncomfortable that Steve Smith was put through that as some sort of punishment beating on the road to rehabilitation. Your emotions, your mental wellbeing cannot be made better by that. That wasn’t cathartic, it was punishment. On a human level, I felt badly. On a cynical level, I felt sick. There’s no one size fits all for making things better. Smith felt he had to do it. I wish he didn’t feel that way. If Australia felt that was necessary, then I feel for them. That’s not right.

OK, enough of that. We have some international cricket to watch before we go off to the ludicrous, thoroughly clean, never tainted IPL, and the opening game between the Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Cheats, so let’s make the most of it. We’re resigned to the spike in hits dropping off after this, so let’s go out with a bang. Comments below, and the Live blogging will also follow this tired old missive. Maybe there’s a comeback hit for us to enjoy. Maybe.

UPDATE – Might have to put the live blogging on hold tonight. Bit of (well massive) eye strain and migraine-type headache. Looks like a darkened room for me. Night all.

UPDATE – A couple of strong tablets, an inability to sleep, pain gone, I will do some updates on the play.

11:25 – I missed the Cook dismissal live, but in slow motion it looks like a man woefully out of form. Good piece of bowling, but that’s bread and butter for an opener. Getting cleanly castled is never a good look early on. Stoneman looks like he’s batting with a white stick. Good luck James Vince. 8 for 1.

11:30 – REVIEW. Looks high. Is high. Not even an umpire’s call, so a review lost. Vince has played a couple of sweetly timed shots so far. Not really a stroke of luck this, but maybe it’s James Vince’s day.

11:35 – 20 up. Vince and Stoneman both on 9. The sense is that a wicket is imminent, but that may be based on history and general pessimism. Boult completes his over, and it remains 20 for 1. Cook’s scores since start of home West Indies series… 243, 11, 23, 10, 17, 2, 7, 37, 16, 7, 14, 244*, 39, 10, 5, 2, 2. Don’t let him get to 40.

11;40 – Southee over goes for a run and a leg bye and it’s 22 for 1. Meanwhile I have half an eye on the Red Sox trying to cough up a 4 run lead with their dodgy old set up men. 2 runs gone and bases loaded. Stoneman gets two with an iffy looking prod that squirted through point. And the Rays have just gone 5-4 up. 25 for 1.

11:48 – Vince given out caught. Being reviewed. If he’s hit it, Vince is a moron for reviewing. He’s not so he isn’t. Good review, and is this Vince’s day?

11:53 – Vince and Stoneman, without looking secure, have seen off Boult, it looks like. A neat clip through mid wicket for Vince makes it 28 for 1.

11:57 – De Grandhomme with a maiden, doing a passable impression of Nathan Astle with the ball. A man who Bumble once said “if he’s a bowler, my backside is a fire engine”. Or something like that. 28 for 1.

00:01 – Glorious shot down the ground from Vince. Lovely shot, six off the over so far. It’s the frustration with him, isn’t it. He looks like a player. 34 for 1 at drinks, Vince 18, Stoneman 13.

00:06 – Flashy, well, flash by Stoneman nets him three more off Charles de Gaulle, who is bowling in the mid 70s. Stoneman flashes a drive and misses with some swing and movement from the big man. End of the over and it is 38 for 1.

00:10 – REVIEW. Vince nailed in front by Southee. Reviews it. It’s doing a bit, but not sure it’s missing leg stump totally. It’s hitting enough of leg stump and Vince has to go. A promising start undone, and he Vince goes for 18. 38 for 2.

James Vince – LBW Southee 18 – 38 for 2

00:12 – Not sure of the music to accompany a sad faced Vince. Joe Root to the crease now. Off the mark first ball with a clip down to long leg. The replay shows the ball for Vince’s dismissal is just clipping the top of leg. Might be a touch unlucky, because the commentators said it was aided by Vince “falling over”. Whatever, it’s out. 39 for 2.

00:17 – Root adds a single from his second ball as CdG is getting all sorts of movement with his dibbly dobblers, getting me all nostalgic for Gavin Larsen. Bowls a filthy wide one Stoneman can’t put away. 40 for 2.

00:21 – Root sconed, but seems ok. Hit him flush on the badge, it looked, but no harm done. Hopefully. Southee still getting pace and bounce in his 8th over. HELLO SANTIAGO, CHILE, whoever you are! Maiden for Tim and it remains 40 for 2. Hello Coral advert.

00:26 – Stoneman pulls one round the corner for a couple to get his score moving. CdG bowling all sorts of toilet in between the odd decent ball. Stoneman played and missed at another wide one, then keeps out a straight one. Last ball of the over and a delightful late cut down to third man makes it 46 for 2.

00:29 – Root squirts one down to third man for 2 more. Someone drug test Southee as it is 9th over now! 2 more off the fifth ball with another glide down to backward point. 50 up. Trumpeter plays Bullseye them tune. Good grief.

00:33 – Still no sign of Wagner. CdG swinging it. Lovely cut shot from Stoneman off the third ball, and it is 54 for 2. Stoneman on 26. Just the four from that over, and it remains 54 for 2.

00:36 – Here comes Wagner. Root faces his first ball, a juicy half volley he doesn’t put away. Maiden. 54 for 2. Hello Coral again….

00:41 – Stoneman pulls another ball down to deep backward square – on to 27. Root gets to face CdG now. Root cover drives for 3 off wide fourth ball of the over. End of the over 58 for 2. Hello Mark in Brazil!

00:45 – Root plays through the covers off the back foot for a couple and moves on to 11. Classy shot. Next ball he gets on the top of the bounce from Wagner and puts it throug backward point for 4. Short ball next dealt with well. Another short one ends the over, six from it, 64 for 2.

00:49 – Ish Sodhi, who has been on and off the field, and is in good domestic form, starts his spell. He bowled 82 kph the ball before the 79 kph one, so he’s around Adil Rashid pace. Stoneman takes a single off the last ball and it is 65 for 2.

00:54 – Wagner to Stoneman for the first time. Given Auckland, he’s not seeing one in his own half. First four balls short. Wagner comes round the wicket. Meanwhile on Twitter Dennis is going up against Barney Ronay. Should be entertaining. 65 for 2. Thought Stoneman played it well.

00:57 – Sodhi to Root. Probably the penultimate over. Glorious Vince-esque drive for four by Root to make it 69 for 2. Whips the next one through mid-wicket for a single, takes Root for 20, and it’s 70 for 2. ’twas the googly.

00:59 – Last over before lunch. Our danger zone. A maiden full of short pitched boredom means lunch is taken with England at 70 for 2. Root 20, Stoneman 28. Cook pinged over early, Vince off to a promising start before being trapped in front. That’s all for me tonight, and hope you enjoyed it!


56 thoughts on “And The Beat(ing) Goes On – 2nd Test Introduction (and Live Blog)

  1. Mark Mar 29, 2018 / 7:46 pm

    I think I would have Stokes as the lead singer. Strutting Mick Jagger style nostrils flaring . The drummer has to be Bairstow. Keith Moon like….. head butting the wall.

    I’m not sure about Cook as the Keyboard player but then again I could se him in the Rick Wakeman role. 25 minute solos. I like Broad and Anderson as the backing singers.

    Root is on Bass trying to hold the whole thing together. Malan is the stylish lead guitar player. Vince is the wayward flashy rhythm guitar player. And you didn’t make one spinal tap joke.


  2. jomesy Mar 29, 2018 / 8:11 pm

    I know this thread is about the ENG/NZ game but I’ve only just got round to watching the Steve S interview.

    It didn’t break my heart, in fact it didn’t any sympathy at all. I thought it was a good act; but no more.

    He was composed when he needed to be and emotional when he needed to be.

    An act.

    Accept that might be contrarian but there you go. He knew, he didn’t stop it, he is/was captain…I have zero sympathy.


    • Mark Mar 29, 2018 / 8:24 pm

      I think Warner had the better approach….which was to breeze through the airport and say I will talk to you when I’m ready. Of course he has the luxury (if you can call it that) of having an inkling if he will ever play again for Aus. If he thinks he won’t play again, he might decide to burn down the house, and say something along the lines of…….” nobody in CA or the coaching team complained about me before. I’m a scapegoat.” Now that would be ballsy, and as much as I disklike him I would respect that.

      I think CA could have avoided that show today, and got Smith out through the back door and let him freshen up and spend the night with his family before holding a press conference tomorrow, Of course they may have wanted to garner the reaction they have achieved…..which is sympathy.

      At this rate he won’t just be in back in the Aus team in 6 months…. he will be Prime Minister by next year.


      • jomesy Mar 29, 2018 / 8:31 pm

        Possibly…and I’ve yet to watch the Lehmann interview, but I just thought “act”.

        I had expected to be sympathetic based on the last thread before I watched (DLP saying it was emotional when he said “I gotta do it”).

        And then I just watched it and thought: “act”.

        He’s not sorry for the act, he’s sorry for being caught and what happened and for his lovely life being disrupted. All I’ll say is lucky he’s good at cricket, because he’s dumb as.


    • Julie Mar 29, 2018 / 9:16 pm

      I’m sorry you read Steve Smith like that because you are quite wrong. He is a very sensitive different type of young man and what you saw was not an act. I just hope he has good people around him now to help him.


      • jomesy Mar 29, 2018 / 10:40 pm

        Do you know him, Julie? If not, we’re equal at best.

        I’m young too Julie – I have my own pressures – we all do – but you have put him on a pedestal because of his (former) office.

        He failed his office.


  3. jomesy Mar 29, 2018 / 8:12 pm



  4. Mark Mar 29, 2018 / 8:30 pm

    If you can bare it Lovejoy is coming up on five live now.


  5. Silk Mar 29, 2018 / 9:27 pm

    Staggered that Vince is back. His last Test? He career defining ton? Who knows?

    I suspect England have given up already and will lose badly. But who knows? Maybe getting shot out for 58 will stiffen the sinews and they will put in a real performance.


  6. northernlight71 Mar 29, 2018 / 9:34 pm

    NZ win the toss and decide to bowl. No news on the state of the ball yet. 🙂


  7. Mark Mar 29, 2018 / 9:34 pm

    NZ win toss and put England in. Looks like a good pitch so a gamble.

    Probably think England a bit wobbly after 58 all out.


  8. Mark Mar 29, 2018 / 9:37 pm

    Vince lives!


  9. Silk Mar 29, 2018 / 9:41 pm

    I’m glad to see we didn’t drop 2 batsmen after the 1st Test debacle.

    Oh. We dropped 3.

    Loving that tail.


  10. Silk Mar 29, 2018 / 9:45 pm

    Goodnight all. I’m lot going to sit through this.

    And good luck Mr Vince. You’ll need it.


  11. Mark Mar 29, 2018 / 9:49 pm

    Place your bets on the Cook jamboree.

    How many will he get? Looks a good pitch……lif he can get through the first hour.


  12. d'Arthez Mar 29, 2018 / 10:10 pm

    Cook gone for 2. Another success story that won’t be mentioned in the MSM.


    • BobW Mar 29, 2018 / 10:47 pm

      Cook missed that by a country mile! Awful shot.


  13. nonoxcol Mar 29, 2018 / 10:12 pm

    Oh dearie me what a tragedy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Mar 29, 2018 / 10:14 pm

      You would think he would like it out there. They have millions of sheep.

      Liked by 1 person

      • @pktroll Mar 29, 2018 / 10:17 pm

        I was thinking that Stoneman looked like a club hack but that was really bad from Cook.


      • Mark Mar 29, 2018 / 10:17 pm

        There’s enough tears in Aus at the moment. Cry me a river, more like an entire sea.


    • nonoxcol Mar 29, 2018 / 10:26 pm

      2 fifties in his last 20 innings, both double hundreds of course.

      HALF – HALF! – OF THOSE INNINGS WERE 10 RUNS OR BELOW. 7 single figure scores and three 10s. Only passed 20 six times.

      You have to be seriously deluded to still come out with “Cook maths” as a defence.


      • LordCanisLupus Mar 29, 2018 / 10:29 pm

        243, 11, 23, 10, 17, 2, 7, 37, 16, 7, 14, 244*, 39, 10, 5, 2, 2

        I hark back to another player who was accused, many times, of being inconsistent.

        Also, this failure took Cook’s average below 46.


        • Mark Mar 29, 2018 / 10:50 pm

          But you will be pleased to know that the commentator said after Cook was out for 2…..

          “Vince and Stoneman are playing for their test futures.”


          • LordCanisLupus Mar 29, 2018 / 10:57 pm



            Not sure what point I am making, but funny nonetheless.


          • Mark Mar 29, 2018 / 11:17 pm

            Special Cook rules.


          • @pktroll Mar 30, 2018 / 10:33 am

            Just imagine if it had been Gary Ballance out in that manner. Well you don’t have to really and you know what the reaction would be from the pundits.Cognitive dissonance really does apply to Alastair. Sad but we should be used to it.


        • BobW Mar 30, 2018 / 6:39 am

          Paul Collingwood?? (I’ll get my coat…)


  14. man in a barrel Mar 29, 2018 / 10:37 pm

    It’s hard to rationalise the selection. A four man attack with the spinner on debut, and a guy whose body struggles to bowl 20 overs in 4 days and two guys in their 30s.

    Vince brought back to strengthen the batting!

    This looks like match-fixing

    Liked by 1 person

  15. man in a barrel Mar 29, 2018 / 10:44 pm

    And as for Smith’s remorse about being caught breaking a law, yes it is forbidden to use sandpaper on a cricket ball, Moliere hit the spot in Tartuffe:

    “Le scandale du monde, est ce qui fait l’offense;
    Et ce n’est pas pécher, que pécher en silence.”
    Le Tartuffe, IV, 5, v. 1504-1505

    It’s only bad to commit a crime if you get found out.


    • Zephirine Mar 30, 2018 / 12:54 pm

      Classy Moliere ref, MIAB. Tartuffe would do very well in cricket administration, especially in Australia or England where sanctimoniousness is in the job description.


  16. thelegglance Mar 29, 2018 / 10:46 pm

    Whatever people might think of Cook, Broad and Anderson, the future without them looks even bleaker. There’s no sign any of the replacements look half reasonable. Yikes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Mar 29, 2018 / 10:57 pm

      Nasser said the other day England have four all time English greats in this team. Cook leading run scorer, Anderson leading wicket taker, Broad 400 wickets and Root. I’m not sure Root is an all time great yet. He may go to be but he doesn’t score enough hundreds.

      Yet look at the record of this team in the last few years. It’s hopeless. Is test cricket that great that we have four time greats and we are shit? Smith is the new Bradman.

      Or, stats are very over rated in the modern game?


      • thelegglance Mar 29, 2018 / 11:03 pm

        I more mean the Cook, Anderson and Broad of a few years ago, but even now, take them out of the team and are you confident the replacements would be better? Or even as good, in this poor team? I’m not.


        • Mark Mar 29, 2018 / 11:12 pm

          No I’m not. Because we know there is little backing up these blokes. That’s why they are under no pressure. Tough times ahead.

          Hats of the NZ mind. Andy Flower are you watching. They only have about 3 million people.


          • thelegglance Mar 29, 2018 / 11:18 pm

            Said before the watching England with Anderson and Broad reminds me ominously of watching the West Indies with Walsh and Ambrose late on.

            Liked by 1 person

  17. BobW Mar 29, 2018 / 10:49 pm

    Meanwhile Trott gives Warner an enigmatic send off on Twitter. The responses following his tweet are ridiculous.


    • Mark Mar 29, 2018 / 11:30 pm

      I’ll say this for Trott and Lovejoy…..they are not being hypocrites spouting the usual…..” we feel their pain”….. bullshit. How many players around the world are laughing their heads off behind closed doors?


  18. Mark Mar 29, 2018 / 11:16 pm

    NZ haven’t quite been bang on the money this session. A few loose ball down the leg side. If they had been, England would have been really in the mire. As it is 39/2.


  19. Mark Chapman Mar 30, 2018 / 12:08 am

    I see The Red Sox met your expectations!


  20. Pontiac Mar 30, 2018 / 1:19 am

    Now… now it begins. 94/4.


    • Pontiac Mar 30, 2018 / 1:21 am

      sorry, 94/5


      • Pontiac Mar 30, 2018 / 1:22 am

        That’s 1/3 in two overs and the one run was nearly a run-out.


  21. Sri.grins Mar 30, 2018 / 1:31 am

    Nicely written article. 👍


  22. dlpthomas Mar 30, 2018 / 2:57 am

    Smith’s press conference was easier to watch this. Now I’m crying. But credit where it is due, NZ always punch above their weight.


    • Sri.grins Mar 30, 2018 / 3:15 am

      Or India, England usually punch below the world their weight when traveling away, India possibly more than England. 😊


      • dlpthomas Mar 30, 2018 / 8:48 am

        I think India have a great chance of winning in England.


  23. dlpthomas Mar 30, 2018 / 9:01 am

    FAF seemed genuinely surprised by the reaction of the Australian public and the penalties the players received. This reminded me of the “Fable of The Cricketers Pants”

    Once upon a time a player deliberately wore a pair of pants with a zip so that he could tamper with the ball and get reverse swing for his bowlers. He got caught but no one knows how many times he didn’t get caught. His punishment was that several months later he was rewarded with the captaincy of his country. The moral of the story is that if you are going to cheat, don’t do it in a way that is as dumb as dog-shit.

    Is there any truth in this story? Who knows but as far as I can see the main difference between using sand-paper and a zip is that FAF had “plausible deniability’ which allowed his team, fans and board to back him up. (That and, unlike some, he’s not considered an arsehole by most of the cricketing world)

    It was a good fight back from England but it looks like an excellent batting track. Speaking of sand-paper and zips, some-one should check Cooks boots and see if they’re full of concrete – that would explain his lack of foot work.


  24. Cricketjon Mar 30, 2018 / 9:07 am

    Sorry..right post, wrong thread. Oh and the ECB are suing George Dobell.


    • nonoxcol Mar 30, 2018 / 10:57 am

      The one tiny drop of pleasure I take from that obscenity is that it’s yet more proof that the former cricket correspondent of the Guardian was on the wrong side of history, and the BTLers were completely right to call him out on it every time.


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