You might be forgiven for treating any news this morning with suspicion. It’s traditional for most news outlets nowadays to have at least one ‘joke’ story for April Fool’s Day. Therefore, when I awoke to see England had managed to build a lead of 231 runs with seven wickets remaining, the first thing I did was doublecheck the scorecard on another website. Especially when it suggested that Vince was the top scorer so far in England’s second innings.
The day started with 5 overs remaining until the new ball and New Zealand’s batsmen Watling and Southee took full advantage, smashing 27 runs off Wood, Stokes and Leach’s bowling. The match turned when England got the new ball, with Anderson quickly managing to swing the ball past Watling’s bat and into the wicketkeeper’s stumps. Broad followed up in the next over by taking another wicket when Ish Sodhi fenced at a ball outside off stump and edged it to Bairstow.
Tim Southee made it to 50 before Anderson bowled him, when the batsman was looking to hit him for six. Anderson was then hit out of the attack by Wagner, who managed 12 off Jimmy’s next over. This left the final wicket up for grabs, and Broad grabbed it by drawing Boult into a hook which he top-edged to Malan at fine leg.
England’s innings started with the customary early wicket, and as you might now expect the victim was Cook. It wasn’t an unplayable delivery, just a ball outside off which Cook prodded at and edged to the New Zealand keeper for 14. At this point, even people Inside Cricket are speculating that Cook might retire or be dropped this summer. He averages 33.25 this winter, which is remarkably low considering his top score of 244*. Other than his mammoth innings in Melbourne, he hasn’t managed an innings of even 40 runs whilst on tour.
The former captain’s quick departure left Stoneman and Vince at the crease. Not typically a sentence which inspires confidence in England fans, but both batsmen applied themselves to the situation.Both accumulated runs steadily, with Stoneman surviving a caught behind after his DRS appeal showed that the ball had hit his shoulder rather than the bat’s. Stoneman had more luck when Ross Taylor dropped him at slip on 48, and again when he sliced the ball just beyond the slip to bring up his half-century. A few overs later, Stoneman was dropped a second time in the slips by Southee. Proving that third time’s the charm, Stoneman edged the ball again and this time Watling caught it.
Vince followed not long after, a loose drive edged to Taylor at first slip. This honestly might be his trademark shot. Root and Malan steadied the ship, and saw England through the remaining hour of play until the day ended due to bad light. The tourists have a lead of 231 runs, with seven wickets still remaining.
This game is some players’ last chance to impress the new England selectors (whoever they will be) and cement their places this summer. Both Vince and Stoneman have good reason to worry, and their performance today might just be enough to save them. Their partnership of 123 runs in this innings has given England a significant lead, and crucially allows their middle order to avoid facing Boult and Southee with a new ball.
Stoneman might feel harshly treated if he is shown the door. In the 18 innings he has played for England, Stoneman has outscored Cook in 11 of them. That said, a Test average of 30.17 from 10 games hardly suggests a promising future. Of course, Stoneman’s career stats look amazing when compared to Vince’s Test batting average of 24.90. In truth, both batsmen must hope that the new selectors look primarily at their last innings rather than their entire body of work.
This game has also thrown up an unusual stat. So far, all 23 wickets have been taken by the opening bowlers. Southee, Boult, Anderson and Broad. That it has happened to both teams might suggest that it’s difficult to take wickets with the older ball. Equally, it might be an argument that the first change bowlers for both teams don’t match the quality of their teammates. Leach and Wood haven’t been particularly good in this Test so far, although in Leach’s defense spinners typically don’t prosper on day 2 of a game.
So, that’s it. England are 231 runs ahead, and there is virtually no way for them to lose the game. I have no doubt that they will smash New Zealand out tonight and finally win a game this winter.
Just kidding. They’re obviously going to find some way to screw this up. Happy April Fool’s Day!
Meanwhile, a better start for Oz. Paine struggling on through the pain (of his thumb ie)
England ascendant reminds me of one of thos starts foretell books which talks of ascendant signs or planets. 🙂
Cook we are told will be allowed to choose the timing of his retirement. Nasser, his public relations consultant informs us he will know when the time is right. I’m staggered how many ex professionals buy into this indulgence. We were told he had the same luxury as to when to hand in the captaincy. If he had wanted to stay on he could still be captain as far as most of the cricket punditry are concerned. We are told top level sport is tough,and there is no room for sentiment. …….I guess it’s Cook rules.
The biggest argument in his defence is there is no one else. Most of Cooks career has been about TINA. There was no one else who could captain, and now there is no one else who can open the batting. His partner Stoneman is playing for his career every time he walks to the middle.
The problem now though is his scores are so low, albeit with the odd daddy hundred thrown in. (But what use is a daddy hundred in a dead rubber Ashes test series? ) In fairness to Nasser he did say it was feast or famine. Cooks scores are so low now that even picking Hales or Roy to smash a quick 25 would be more productive than another score in the teens or lower.
What will concern Cook more I suspect his his average his starting to go down. If this carries on for another year or so he is going to end up with a test average in the low 40s. In the modern game that is not the mark of greatness. No doubt he will score an hundred in the summer and we will all be told you are stupid to write him off. He’s the mentally toughest player England have ever produced. According to Nasser. Although the definition of mental toughness is never defined.
Anyway, I’m sure a few months back on the farm and a few games for Essex and he will be back to his best. The Ashes are now less than two years way!! Just one more, just one more!!
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Yep. Even if Cook averages around 30 for the next 12 months, it would be surprising if he was dropped before the next Ashes. Of course perhaps the new selectors will be more ruthless than James Whitaker, but you wouldn’t bet on it.
Don’t forget . He is approaching Alan Borders consecutive appearances record.
Not that it’s about records. Too selfless
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To paraphrase “I saw Alan Border bat, and you sir, are no Alan Border!”
It seems that if Vince plays enough innings occasionally he’ll get lucky, survive a chance or two and get a half century. He’s never going to be consistent enough at no. 3 though. I might give him a go further down the order – say at 5 or 6 – but there’s no way he’s a Test no. 3. However the heffalump in the room is arguably the opener who keeps failing for very low scores and exposing Vince to the opening bowlers and the new ball, which he clearly doesn’t have the mindset to deal with. Cook is now not much more than a passenger. Talk of him choosing the time and manner of his retirement, while other players have to battle to prove themselves and keep their places, is a wind-up.
Cook must be dropped, he is going backwards rapidly, maybe Stoneman too. If (as I suspect) the only series that matter to the ECB are the Ashes, then we need two new openers (or even go back to some discarded because they didn’t do well with Cook) to bed in for at least a year.
Of course he won’t, he is like a limpet, in fact it must be his mental toughness that blinds him to the liability he is now as an opener.
Don’t you guys worry. :-D. We are touring England and we will ensure Cook has a long run not just for the next Ashes in England but maybe the one after, 😀
Thanks Sri 😉
Honestly, with the fragility of England’s whole batting lineup recently I think there might be a really good chance of India winning the series. Obviously the conditions don’t favour India, but right now England appear to be vulnerable about spin, seam, swing and pace bowling. The allrounders are all out of form (and Stokes might be occupied in court during the series as well), and the bowling attack beyond Anderson has the cutting edge of a blancmange.
oh, we will find ways to get out to the support bowlers. Jimmy or even Broad need not be in great form.
Best chance for the bowlers and the batsmen in the England XI rolls around after the Pakistan tests.
Cook, I am sure will probably get quite a few provided he is able to navigate Amir et al and not get dropped. I doubt he would get dropped. Cook’s handling reminds me a lot of Sach well after the spark was gone.
Of course Cook may get his mojo back but at this stage it reminds me of Sachin’s last days.
India has an excellent bowling line up. I think they have a real chance of winning the series.
India has an excellent bowling lineup. Now that is the right story for April 1.
They put up Cook’s figures against all opposition last night, and pointed out he averages over 50 against India.
Of course they didn’t say he has one ton in his last 11 tests against them. Yeah, I’m starting that sequence after Kolkata. Two whole series with one ton, which was a low leverage hundred in the second innings on the Rajkot road.
Habeeb is surely the elephant in the room.
/If/ he continues his early season form and scores big, then surely he’s due a recall.
Surely they can’t drop Stoneman ahead of Cook? Surely?
Hameed averaged 24.75 on tour with the Lions, which doesn’t bode well for his selection…
Nonsense. He’ll fit right in.
On a totally different note, and ‘pologies – I’ve not been paying any attention to Asian cricket of late – is there a better all round cricketer in the world right now than Pat Cummins?
On selection, Giles has turned the role down. He wants, not unreasonably, to do a proper job at Warks.
The Guardian reports that
“(1) Strauss began establishing the new scouting network last summer when the former England players Geoff Arnold, Bob Cottam, John Emburey, Jack Birkenshaw and Mike Hendrick helped to spot players for the England Lions and England Under-19s. (2) Now the Loughborough coaches Graham Thorpe, Kevin Shine and Peter Such will also have greater input into the decision-making process, with Mo Bobat, the player identification lead, overseeing the network.
“(3)The new approach will allow us to see more players throughout the county game more often, and simplify the selection process,” Strauss said.”
On (1) I note the success this new scouting network (of old farts, 73, 73, 65, 77 and 69 years old, respectively) is bringing to The Lions.
On (2) the success of Loughborough can only add* to what Strauss has already put in place.
(3) I can see how having 9 selectors will simplify things.
FOR FUCKS SAKE STRAUSS JUST FUCK OFF.
Thank you. I feel better now.
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Giles remembers how his previous role in the England set up ended. He knows they’re an organisation that should only be engaged with from very far away. Though preferably not at all.
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For those that might have forgotten, Hendrick and Emburey were both Rebel tourists. In fact, Emburey went on both English Rebel tours to Apartheid South Africa. Good to see that the ECB are continuing to hire the ‘right kind of person’.
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Mike Hendrick was the bowler Selvey could have been. But he wasn’t good enough.
But that is a good thing: can you imagine how insufferable Selvey would have been if he had added baggage from a Rebel tour or two?
Maybe he’d be wealthy enough to retire early and not right any more?
Am I the only one who feels that Ali Martin was trying too hard not to mention Andy Flower amongst all those names?
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It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of attacking captain Root is. England haven’t been in this situation much so let’s see what kind of declaration he gives NZ. (Assuming they don’t get bowled out cheaply) I hope it won’t be a Strauss Flower one where the Kiwis have no chance to win but that reduces England’s time to bowl them out. We might as well lose 2-0 as 1-0.
In other news from Aus it looks like M’learned friends are getting involved. Warner’s bizzare press conference and his later claim that he had to stay on script seems to show they are going to challenge their punishments. So much for being truly sorry.
Australia will have a tough time changing the culture because I don’t think that is what the players want. Anyway the whole thing is becoming a farce and a soap opera.
I think we all knew lawyers were going to be involved once the “mea culpa” press conferences were over. I also think that it’s possible to be sorry you committed a crime whilst simultaneously thinking your punishment is too severe. Anyway, the best chance of finding out the whole story is for the players to appeal. (surely that’s what cricketers do?)
I was trying to think of a similar scandal in another sport and the best I could come up with was “deflategate” and Tom Brady. I know fuck all about American football but it seems similar to me. (there was a conspiracy to cheat and they tampered with the ball) Brady got a 4 game suspension (after appeal), the club got fined and everybody moved on.
If you think New England Patriots supporters have moved on from deflategate, you are a bit wrong. They want the Commissioner’s head on a platter for it! Still do. Boston fans have long selective memories. It means they forget employing a double murderer, and taping the opposition’s training sessions, but does mean a bit of subtle cheating in game which casts aspersions on Saint Tom is not happening.
You might guess I don’t support that team (but I do the Red Sox)!
This article was retweeted by someone I follow. An Irish perspective…
So we are all either Paul Hayward, Vic Marks or Simon Heffer. No other nuance complicated other than we are pissed off at losing to Australia. Talk about paying for the sins of my “betters”.
I think both Malan and Root have been bored out. A small nugget of pressure here with Broad in next? Pitch still looks a belter.
[Cue endless tiresome discussions about walking, or not.]
No need. He’ll ramp one to fly slip in a minute.
Walking was never fashionable 😊. Just the luck of the day if you get a decision in your favor that cannot be contested by opponents because the Drs challenges are lost. I would have thought though that given that England has two reviews, Erasmus could have taken the safer decision of giving him out assuming that if he was not out, bairstow would use his Drs lifeline
I used to walk when I nicked it. Except for that one time. Oh, and once away at Winchmore Hill. Hit the cover off it. Actually, come to think of it, I never walked.
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Chris Woakes. At present, Ashes and in NZ, averages over 50 with he ball and under 20 with the bat. Just saying.
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Going to bed in a minute, but a good first over from Jack Leach. I know he went wicketless in the 1st innings, but I thought he bowled well – offered control, and showed he had confidence, variety, and knew what he was doing. It was odd: it was like we had a spinner.
I just watched the highlights and thought exactly the same. Why was his extension announced the way it was? It’s almost as if someone doesn’t want him or they want to protect Ali at all costs. Or maybe I’m just so paranoid about the ECB I’ve finally lost my marbles on such issues!
Leach is an interesting case here. Yes, he is wicketless, but it is not like the wicket was that conducive to spin – no wicket has been taken by a spinner on either side, from a combined total of 38 overs thus far. He also has the best ER in the match of all the spinners. The lack of overs also suggests it is not a wicket for spinners. And it should not be the most important consideration, but he did contribute with the bat as well. So unless he falls completely apart tomorrow (Bryce McGain style), I honestly do not see a reason why he should not get the gig for the rest of 2018.
Bad light led to an early stumps – just after New Zealand were scoring less than a run an over (7 runs in the last 10 overs). So they still need 340 runs with 10 wickets in tact, from a minimum of 98 overs, if they get all the overs in.
Even with the extra 16 overs it is doubtful that New Zealand would have chased the target down (runrate wise). So it looks like it will be mostly about crease occupation. Cue the press lambasting Root for an over-cautious declaration, while they’d be happy if Captain Cook had set New Zealand 430 from 110 overs or so …
Is Leach going to be judged by the same standards as say, Crane? (Who, let’s face it, was very ordinary in his only Test so far)
Leach is only in the team because all the other options are either unpickable (Ali), injured (Crane), unavailable (Rashid), retired (Ansari), over 40 (Batty) or rank awful (Dawson).
What’s the betting that if Leach doesn’t bowl us to victory tomorrow, the press pack will pile in to use that to justify the selectors in not picking him previously? (Despite the failure of Ali, Crane, Rashid, Ansari or Dawson to bowl us to victory in any of the last X away Tests)
(I think Crane has played his last Test, but that’s another story…)
Bairstow, Williamson, Root (2), Stoneman (2), Malan, Southee, Watling, Vince, Woakes, de Grandholme, Wood, Nicholls, Stokes – players to have reached 50 in this series, with an asterisk acknowledging New Zealand have only had 2 full innings thus far. 15 players in a Test and a half; these have been roads. Is there a top order bat who hasnt contributed in any way yet?
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I’d answer, but that might give people the idea that this is a Cook-bashing blog. I’d hate for that to happen…
Wouldn’t mind 4 or 5 of the kiwis digging in tonight to make it an even starker stat.
Dale Steyn rumoured to be joining Hampshire in June. In theory you could have Amla, Steyn, Morkel, Kohli, Abbott and Russouw at the Ageas in the County Championship. Oh and Crane, Dawson and Vince.