Road to nowhere – NZ v England, 1st Test, day three

Days like these are the ones where the very occasional pang of sympathy extends in the direction of the cricket journalist. After all, what is there to say about three sessions where the bowling lacks penetration, but the batting plods on at a modest pace?

The lack of excitement is grist to the mill of those who laud short form cricket, or indeed go on about the “exciting brand” of Test cricket played by England at various times. And they have something of a point in that being skittled out to a succession of hopeful thrashes outside off stump certainly lends a frisson to the day.

But Test cricket remains the highest form of the game because of the variety it offers, and New Zealand slowly turning the screw on the England team has its own particular beauty – particularly in the way the pressure begins to transfer from one side to the other. There’s plenty of comment about the nature of the pitch, certainly, but we’re barely half way through this match, there’s plenty of time for one side or the other to fold on it, and England are going to be the ones facing the likelihood that they’re going to have to bat long to save the game.

There’s a wider issue here about the ball used, certainly, but it’s far from the first time England have looked toothless away from home when using it, and the tactics of containment adopted early suggests their limited potency is something they are only too well aware about. But irrespective of that, endless praise should be showered on a New Zealand middle order that played with discipline and plenty of skill. BJ Watling has long been one of those players to quietly go about his business without too many mentions of him whenever lists of the best keeper/batsmen around are compiled.

So it was a holding day – one side toiling, the other quietly placing themselves in a position of strength. It’s far too soon to start complaining about the surface, but England now have a job on their hands to get out of this in one piece. An uneventful day in Test is infinitely more important than the quiet middle overs of an ODI, for it directs the pattern for the remainder in a greater way.

Jofra Archer continues to attract comment, partly because his pace is so often believed to be the answer when the rest of the seam attack fails to penetrate. He’s only in his fifth Test, and learning his trade. It is an odd thing where people can be so quick to jump on a young player for failing (in this match) to be the answer to many prayers. Singling him out seems peculiar.

The fourth day should define where this match is going, but while New Zealand are favourites, there’s no reason whatever England should be feeling in particular trouble. But the game is played in the mind, and seeing how they approach things will be indicative of whether any major changes are in process or not.

If that’s not a definitive post, it’s fair comment to point that out. But the wonder of Test cricket is that a match can be a slow burner and explode into life, or it can remain a turgid bore. Either way, we’re yet to find out, and after three days of play, that in itself is to be appreciated.

21 thoughts on “Road to nowhere – NZ v England, 1st Test, day three

  1. dannycricket Nov 23, 2019 / 8:19 pm

    Comments are now enabled on this post. Sorry about that…

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  2. Mark Nov 23, 2019 / 8:46 pm

    Haven’t seen any of the cricket, but it seems the same old same old with England overseas. England change the captain but the captaincy style remains the same with the Test team. Is there any real difference in approach between Strauss/Flower, Cook, And Root?

    The people change but, the tactics are the same. Sit back and wait for the batsman to get himself out. Now in fairness sometimes it does work, but often away from England it does not. Bowling dry and going ultra defensive. Why is it when England can’t bowl a side out easily do the punditd always blame the pitch?

    As to Archer I fear he will be bowled into the ground. Non of these captains seem to understand a fast bowler as a strike weapon instead of a cudgel that eventually gets beat down. Look what happened to Stephen Finn when they changed him into a line and length bowler. Wicket taking is not valued by England’s method. Economy is more important, and the batsman gets himself out.

    How ever this test finishes after three days it’s close. New Zealand are a worthy opposition. The series they played in England a few years ago was excellent and competitive. They provided a great opponent in the World Cup final at Lords. Yet the ECB would rather have endless series against India, which often end in one sided series wins for the home team. But hey…. look at the tv rights cheque….

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    • thelegglance Nov 23, 2019 / 8:48 pm

      You know what really pisses me off? A couple of tours ago, England hit on the perfect NZ itinerary. 3 x T20, then 3 x ODI, then 3 x Tests. It was superb, the whole tour wound up to a climax. Everyone loved it.

      Naturally they’ve not done it again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Nov 23, 2019 / 8:59 pm

        Of course, because in my opinion they are slowly fading out Test cricket. All the things that people have liked about this test match. The pretty ground, the close nature of the game, the battling sessions are not wanted in the knew….. “its a knockout format.”

        I really think the ECB hope NZ will one day go the way of Sri Lanka, and WI. It is embarrassing to them that they still provide a though opponent. That’s how cynical they have made me.

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        • thelegglance Nov 23, 2019 / 9:04 pm

          In fairness, since these Tests aren’t part of the World Test Championship, you could argue they didn’t have to play them, but are.

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      • dArthez Nov 24, 2019 / 4:46 am

        The problem is also partly financial. New Zealand makes less from Tests than from the short stuff, and since the ECB, CA and BCCI, are hogging all the cash, what do you expect smaller boards to do?

        Although I suppose with the timeslots involved (England’s time slots not exactly ideal for New Zealand based games), the format is less important than when say if India are coming.

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    • Mark Nov 23, 2019 / 8:52 pm

      Same could be said of spin bowlers too. Rashid is never given credit for taking wickets. The focus is always on economy. As soon as a batsman hits a spinner for a six the captain under this theory always immediately puts fielder back.

      Morgan was a real change in approach when he took over the ODI team. Can’t see them taking that risk with the test captaincy even if they could find a more inventive captain.

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    • metatone Nov 24, 2019 / 6:19 am

      This is the thing that drives me nuts about the England setup.

      These kinds of pitches are not rare overseas.
      I don’t mind if we aren’t good enough to win on them – talent goes in cycles etc. – but we simply don’t seem to have even a plan beyond “bowl dry and hope they make a mistake” and it’s rubbish because proper Test teams don’t make that many mistakes, instead they rack up game winning scores.

      You would think it would not be beyond the management to watch some other teams play on these pitches and copy some strategies… but no…

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      • LordCanisLupus Nov 24, 2019 / 9:27 am

        Selvey giving Silverwood all sorts four days in…

        Remarkable. Remember those defences of Moores? Have no critical comment of Flower and Saker. But Silverwood gets it from the get go.

        Get it?

        Liked by 1 person

        • dArthez Nov 24, 2019 / 10:28 am

          I wonder if Selvey could tell us how this is worse than the 58 all out under English circumstances a few years ago? If England go on and lose this, that was only decided in the eleventh session of this Test, rather than the first. Okay, that was Bayliss. But Selvey was probably thundering in silence.

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        • dlpthomas Nov 24, 2019 / 12:14 pm

          Silverwood used the word “holistically” in his press conference at the end of day 3 which I gather puzzled quite a few who were present. I guess it’s possible Selvey thinks he’s being funny but I suspect he’s just a dick.

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      • dArthez Nov 24, 2019 / 10:25 am

        Well, they are busy watching Sky, and all the repeats of whatever England-batsman/bowler/ coach is the greatest ever. So they are busy buying their own hype.

        Rather than watching broadcasts from around the world. Which they clearly cannot pay for, as there are more important things to pay for. Like the millions and millions to the administrators. Who will probably insist that they need to loot world cricket monies even more.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. man in a barrel Nov 24, 2019 / 12:33 am

    I watched the interview with Ashley Giles. My impression was that he is a big fat overpaid useless c**t

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    • quebecer Nov 24, 2019 / 2:05 am

      So you’re saying he made an impression?

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  4. dlpthomas Nov 24, 2019 / 5:02 am

    Well played NZ – 590 for 7 at tea. England have kept tight but there is nothing in the wicket for their bowlers.I may have to fast forward through the last session (though, sadly, things may liven up when we bat)

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  5. dlpthomas Nov 24, 2019 / 5:24 am

    Broad puts an arm round Archer as they walk off – nice touch from the senior bowler.

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  6. dlpthomas Nov 24, 2019 / 5:53 am

    Southee getting some swing – this will be interesting

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    • dArthez Nov 24, 2019 / 6:19 am

      If interesting means losing both openers and the nightwatchman before stumps in the last 30 minutes of play or so, sure. That includes a shot that would probably be erased from Burns’ memory if he had the chance to, and a strange non-review of a non-edged catch from Leach.

      Obviously, Leach is not a specialist batsman, and given the moment he was batting, can’t really chance a review, if you are highly doubtful that you hit it (if he had been at 9 or 10 he probably would have). I suppose that is yet another downside of promoting a nightwatchman. Unless it is an extremely obvious blunder by the umpires, hard to review such decisions when you are batting at 3 as a bowler. And given the fact that Leach has a decent defensive technique, he will be missed tomorrow by England.

      Still, the wicket is really not doing that much, but England will probably have to bat 80-odd overs to save the draw here, given the runrates in the match thus far.

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      • dlpthomas Nov 24, 2019 / 7:10 am

        Yes – that kind of “interesting”. Satner bowled well but Burns should be boiled in oil for that shot (and Sibley chased a wide one.)

        NZ have a really good chance to win from here.

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