New Zealand vs. England, 2nd Test, Day 1 review – Highway to Hell

I’m going to admit that I haven’t even watched a single ball of this Test Match so far. As soon as I saw the sorry excuse for a team that Ed Smith and his merry bunch of idiots had put together, I simply felt that there was no point and decided to watch the NFL. I’m thankful for my choice on reflection.

It’s difficult to know where to start really, although the decision not to bring a back up wicketkeeper in case of injury is probably the most calamitous. Wicketkeepers and decent wicketkeeper batsmen at that, are England’s strongest suit at the moment, hell we could probably field a half decent team of purely wicketkeepers, but you know what, Ed Smith doesn’t abide by sane decisions. He likes to look like a maverick after all. I’m still waiting for Stuart Broad to open the batting in some sort of bizarre cricketing masterstroke by Ed. It’s all good and fun except when your sole wicketkeeper gets injured and you have throw in a young, inexperienced batsman who is trying to navigate his way in Test Cricket behind the stumps. Well bloody done Ed! Also, what does it say to the various other excellent wicketkeepers in the country? Ben Foakes might have had a slight slip in standards with the bat last year, but he is still the best wicketkeeper in the country, so what he has he said or done to offend clever Ed so much? Bairstow although lacking the technique to score big runs in Test cricket right now was out in New Zealand, so why send him back home? The mind just boggles. So, as a result of this tremendous forward planning England had to completely reshuffle the batting unit resulting in players batting out of position again. Incompetence par excellence by the selectors, this was fuck up number 1.

Fuck up number 2 then came when England decided they didn’t need to play a spinner. If you have the West Indian fast bowling attack of the 1980’s, then it might just be forgivable. Unfortunately, England don’t. Jack Leach hasn’t set Test cricket on fire with his bowling (his batting is another matter), but he has been tidy, hasn’t conceded too many runs and chipped in with the odd wicket, so why the hell would we drop him for another military medium pace bowler? Who decision was this? Was it the captain? Was it the coach? Was it Father Christmas? Whoever it was deserves to be made to listen to Simon Hughes podcasts every day for the rest of their life!

That leads to fuck up number 3. Without a spin bowler, England had to bowl first whether they really wanted to deep in the hearts or not. Yes, I believe there was some long grass on the wicket, but the pitches in New Zealand have generally been fairly flat for the last couple of years, certainly not green seamers with wild swing for the quick bowlers. So, having elected to play 5 quick bowlers with no spinner and to bowl first at New Zealand then they needed to have an exceptional day with the ball and to make deep inroads into the New Zealand batting line up. Narrator: ‘They did not’. I haven’t seen any of the game so I’m really not sure how well England bowled or didn’t, but the fact remains that on a day curtailed by rain, New Zealand are only 3 down with Tom Latham scoring a decent century to put the hosts right in the box seat.

So, onto today’s play, England once again will need to make early inroads if they want to make a game of this at all. If New Zealand score 450/500 then it’s quite likely that they will have batted England out of the game, especially with a number of batsmen playing in different positions than they’re used to. Oh, and Ben Stokes is injured too, so things keep getting better and better.

I might watch some of the game tonight, but then I might not. For those that do, feel free to comment or laugh at England’s ineptitude below.