It was a day of contrasting fortunes for England to say the least. On the more positive side, they would have been incredibly pleased to have made 300, especially when they found themselves in the mire at 175-6 yesterday. However, on the less positive side, it seems that this score is very much under par as a stubborn batting performance from New Zealand has put them in the box seat.
Unfortunately, I haven’t watched that much of the day’s play, I’ve been lucky enough to find some interim work for the next couple of months and although I’m working from home, I’ve genuinely been annoyingly busy for a Friday. I did manage to catch the enjoyable partnership between Wood and Lawrence, with the former probably a little annoyed he didn’t manage to get to 50; however, once he was dismissed, neither Broad nor Anderson were able to support Lawrence in getting his maiden ton, with the latter stranded on 81, when he absolutely deserved a hundred. Lawrence does baffle me slightly in that he can look all at sea as he did for the first 30 odd runs yesterday and then switch on and look like he’s playing Test Cricket for years. With Zak Crawley looking horribly out of touch and the James Bracey experiment looking like it’s going to end in failure, Lawrence to me looks the one most likely to keep his place in the side. Whether he’s a bona fide number 3 is another matter, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him batting there against India later in the summer.
England’s bowlers also got the start they wanted with Broad pinning Latham on the back foot plumb in front of the stumps; however, there was little else to celebrate after that as Conway and Young batted New Zealand into a position of superiority. In fact, it was genuinely surprising when Conway pulled a ball straight down the throat of Crawley at deep square leg when a hundred was there for the taking. Conway of course, could have been dismissed earlier when Broad thought he had a nicked a ball to the slip cordon; however, the umpire gave the soft signal of not out and once that had happened, the technology available is just not able to decipher whether it carried or not. Broad seemed incensed by the decision, but until the technology improves, the likelihood is that the umpires will give the benefit of the doubt to the batsmen in contested catches. With the dismissal of Conway, England thought they might have opened up an end with Ross Taylor looking all at sea against Broad and Anderson. However, Taylor gritted it out, despite being given out which was later overturned on review and finished the day unbeaten, though not before Dan Lawrence with some very part-time spin managed to get Will Young to edge one onto his pad which was snaffled up by short leg in the final over of the day.
England’s quick bowlers toiled away but there was very little to aid them on a pitch that looked pretty flat without much swing or seam. This to me is why I don’t like picking an all-seam attack, unless you are lucky enough to stumble upon the West Indian pace attack of the 1980’s. Sure Joe Root is capable of turning his arm over and he did just that, but his bowling wasn’t exactly threatening, which is probably the kindest thing I can say about it. Now I’m not saying Leach or Bess would have torn through the Kiwi top order but having a front-line spinner just makes the attack more balanced and can help tie up an end whilst the quicks rotate. Leach in particular looked very good in India and has been in decent form for his county so I’m genuinely confused why the England brains trust don’t trust him. He might not be a huge spinner of the ball, but he would have been a welcomed addition to what is looking like a very one-paced English bowling attack on this pitch.
So, with New Zealand only 3 down and with the lead under a hundred, England have it all to do to ensure they’re not trying to bat out for a draw again. Of course, 1 wicket can bring 2 or 3, but it would be fair to surmise that it’s not exactly looking promising.
Views on the day’s play are gratefully received below:
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The gamble of going in with 2 old seamers, another who has to be nursed through short spells and a genuine quick who should not be used in long spells came off the rails today. And they were all right armers. There is a typical lack of real variety in this attack. Taylor played a gritty innings, trying to find some kind of rhythm and form, but it was noticeable how he enjoyed facing Root. You really need a good spinner in these situations. Whoever sent out an attack of 4 seamers who have to be used in short spells should be made to fund a sanatorium for knackered bowlers
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Yep, you mirror my thoughts exactly. There was just no variety on what is a flat deck..
And even in “English” conditions and using a Dukes ball, the quicks only took 1 wicket. Conway played a loose shot to a bad ball. The Ashes tour could be a long one. The lack of a good stock bowler like Robinson was a blatant error of selection. Four strike bowlers, when 3 of them are either getting on in years or likely to get injured any moment, is a luxury selection. Obviously the return of Stokes would help in this respect but he would come into this team at the expense of, say, Crawley or Pope, which means a 5 right arm seamer attack. Way to go!
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I would imagine when Stokes returns, we’ll get to see Leach again. Though it’s crazy he wasn’t picked for this Test.
As a captain, you have to have a plan. Clive Lloyd’s plan was simple – rotate the 4 best fast bowlers in the world every hour and throw in an over or 2 of Viv Richards in order to shake things up every so often.
Larwood’s plan was to get Larwood and Voce to bowl bouncers to a legside field once the shine had gone and use the spinner Verity in long spells to keep things tight, with Hammond and Gubby Allen bowling in more orthodox English medium to fast medium. If you look at the scorecards, barely half the overs in the Body line Series were bodyline.
Hutton used Tyson as a shock bowler, in mostly short spells, backed up by Statham. The in-between overs, of which there were many, were bowled by the naggingly accurate Bailey plus spinners such as Wardle and Appleyard, so the Aussies couldn’t get away.
Benaud used Davidson as his spearhead, along with whichever seamers he was allotted, with medium paced Slasher Mckay to keep things tight while the skipper did his stuff.
Illingworth did much the same with John Snow and Underwood.
Where do you go with 4 quicks bowling short spells,none of whom fits into the shock and awe scenario, without a stock bowler or 2 to control the game, unless you forget to mow the pitch?
Well, short spells is a relative concept: they’d be mindnumbingly long if Kraigg Brathwaite was their captain–when I was watching yesterday he made five bowling changes in the first six overs I watched!
The most damning thing about your post in some ways is the “none of whom are shock and awe bowlers” bit. That’s precisely what Wood and to some extent Stone are there for–and are routinely described as being in the county game.
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They didn’t leave a dent on Conway nor Young.
My problem is with this attack is that you can have one ‘shock and awe’ bowler in any attack, but it doesn’t quite work if you’re asking them to bowl more than 5 overs a spell.
The one thing about including a front line spinner is that you can say to a quick, just bowl very fast for 10 overs in 2 spells.
Absolutely, but that means you have a tactical plan
Yep and that’s what worries me about this English think tank
Stone isn’t quick enough to be a “shock and awe” bowler at this level. This whole thing reminds me a bit of when they tried to use Broad as an “enforcer” – how many test wickets did that cost him?
I went. It was weird. I’m no epidemiologist but I am aware that the cases have risen a lot over the past month. Everyone there had to show evidence of a negative test report, however this only means that you’ve self reported yourself as having a negative test result, rather than necessarily actually having a negative test result. At first everyone there was really quite reserved, masks on, social distancing where possible and just pleased to be there. By the second session it felt like a t20 crowd, everyone peed up and lairy. Not sure how I feel about it still. I’m yet to be vaccinated, but I am fairly healthy and in my, ahem, thirties. I will test myself again in a few days. The weather was glorious so at least we were spared a closely confined rain break huddled under a crowded concourse.
Pitch looked a belter. It looked great when Wood raced into the 40s. It looked great for Lawrence. It looked great for Conway, Young and Taylor. Silly to lose a wicket to the part time spin. Broad bowled well and with good intensity, Stone unlucky with Root’s drop of a sitter at first slip. More than anything this highlighted how poor England’s effort was yesterday. To see NZ’s spinner pick up 2 wickets, Briggs has done well this summer for Warks at the same ground…Leach might as well not bother.
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Just look at the 2 New Zealand attacks: Boult /Southee, Wagner, Henry/Jamieson, Santner/Patel, Grandholme/Mitchell.
A clear tactical plan involving 5 people who can bowl well. They have the problem of selecting the best combination out of the 9 players!
Can I throw a hypothesis in? England have bowled ok. Broad has bowled really rather well and not had much luck. It’s not that they’ve done much wrong at all, but that the England total isn’t adequate – Dan Lawrence notwithstanding. Three down for over 200 isn’t evidence of failure, or saminess, it’s evidence of a flat surface and decent batting conditions. Teams are allowed to bat well.
Now they might take a few tomorrow, they might well restrict a lead. But if NZ get 350+, that doesn’t mean the bowlers have done any less than they should do, merely that England have, again, underperformed in their batting on a flat track.
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Joe Root bowled 13 overs today and didn’t achieve anything other than allowing his 4 seamers a slightly reduced workload. No control, no threat, no turn. On this type of deck bowling himself is the archetypal example of allowing the game to drift away when we are in the field.
Stone bowled an excellent first spell, but it was 7 overs long and from then on in he looked tired, leaking runs at an alarming rate.
Anderson was unthreatening and without being wayward wasn’t exactly as miserly or on it as he can be either. Wood completely innocuous. I don’t know if either player can or should play two Tests in a row.
Broad bowled well.
It isn’t a helpful pitch, but you just know that in the tougher periods NZ can turn to their spinner, or maybe a bloke like de Grandholme in the first Test who went at just 2 an over and without looking like taking wickets put on enough of a squeeze to allow a more attacking, fresher rotation at the other end.
After his dumb “Mark Wood is the best” article in the previous Test, Ronay in the Graun just about nails the muddled vagueness of the team selection questions England have.
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Reasonable points. But what were you expecting? On a pitch like this, England ought to have scored 400, in which case this is not a bad effort from the bowlers. NZ aren’t an inept outfit, they’re possibly a better team. My point here is that you can highlight the failings, but are we really talking about it being something particularly poor with the ball? You’ll need to convince me more.
Sure, it seems like a good batting pitch. And sure, the New Zealand batsmen battled it out – as they are supposed to. England should have batted a bit better. Sure.
But, you also need variety and flexibility in your bowling attack – four right arm medium (fast) is probably not going to cut it in that respect, especially if you lack a stock bowler. Left arm quick would have helped, nagging military medium would have helped, a frontline spinner would have helped. Not sure if the England bowlers tried to vary a bit with going over / round the wicket at times, which may be useful ploys when the opposition is stringing together useful and sizeable stands together.
Sure you could theoretically use Anderson as a stock bowler, but that is just gross mismanagement of your new ball quick (especially since he is far more effective as a strike bowler in England, than as a stock bowler – abroad it tends to be the other way around). Picking Wood or Stone as a stock bowler is a wasted selection as well. If you want to play those three together, you simply will need a good spinner, who can contribute 25+ overs in a day – to allow the spells to be shorter and more incisive. Or alternatively play the ultimate workhorse / stock bowler (with a few overs of part time bowling added in by someone else), but I am not sure if any such options are available to England (of the recent England players, I think only Woakes would possibly fit the bill).
Add to that the injury concerns for both Wood and Anderson in particular, the nature of the pitch, and New Zealand battling well, and it does not look good for England at all. Besides, whenever you pick a team with two injury risks, always have at least one decent backup option available. Who is going to bowl Wood’s overs if he breaks down?
This English attack doesn’t even fit the Bearley template:
A bit of Willis and Botham (maybe lots of Botham as he was young then)
Lots of Hendrick or Old or Lever
Lots of Edmonds or Emburey or Miller to close things up
Everyone is looking at the bowling and the selection of four similar types of bowlers criticising England.
I’d just like to give credit to the New Zealand batting. They were disciplined and controlled. Didn’t give anything away either really. One soft dismissal but runs were on the board. They really look like a top side. The type of team England should aspire to be.
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Good point. Taylor, in particular, gutsed it out yesterday and looks like he will cash in today.
You ought to post more often!
I just read your comment. Looked up at the TV to see Ross Taylor get caught behind!!
You’d think by now I would have learnt to keep my mouths shut (well, thats what my wife says)
Nice jinx that!
Seems to me England also bowling fractionally too short as usual. Stone at least is pitching it up more.
I would slghtly alter the emphasis on TLG’s comment I think–that the batting is EVEN worse a problem than the bowling. I suspect that, unless the openers bat out of their skins and either Lawrence becomes more consistent or Pope gets into some form, they’ll get shredded in Australia similarly to how they were in india this winter.
But it’s also quite possible that the only reason their bowling won’t be going for 600 on a regular basis is that the Australian batting is not a whole lot less jellylike than England’s–but that could easily change if Pucovski and Green live up to their promise and Warner rediscovers his form.
What this really shows I think–stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before, as the man said–is how weak test cricket has become. If England really are the third best team in the world….
Because essentially they’re picking more or less their best team barring the odd injury (I’m sure that Leach would have been playing if Stokes had been fit). It’s not like they have anyone bashing down the door, either batsman or bowler, who’s not already there, with the possible exception of Parkinson…who in some way would replace one problem with another given that he’s a no. 11’s no 11.
So welcome to the wortld of Bangladesh fans–but with slightly better on-field behaviour…:-)
Which means that it’s even more necessary than for better teams to maximise the five percenters. And there are a couple that they’re not. One is to be firmer is coming to selectorial decisions: the fact that they’re even considering taking an almost 33-year-old fast bowler to the Ashes as a frontline option four years after he added Australiasia to the long list of continents where he’s looked anodyne looks like a missed opportunity (although to be fair to Smith, Waokes has actually only played two overseas tests since the Ashes, both in Nz, although that may have been more through accident than design).
A second is the failure to develop a decent test no. 8 out of the regular bowlers, which is at least partly a coaching issue.
A third is the captaincy. Root is by reputation a very good cpatain in his management of people as people, but he seems damagingly poor in his handling of bowlers. He’s already probably destroyed the test career of England’s best bowling weapon in twenty years by overbowling him, and he looks well on the way to turning Wood into England’s ninth 83-mph seamer (as I write Wood’s just bowled another seven-over-spell). That’s also partly a thinktank error I think, as most people upthread have pointed out, by not identifying a stock bowler.
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Why on earth would you think the batting is a problem? (its 2 in the morning and its freezing. why am I watching this rubbish?)
Kiwi’s vrs India could be a good game.
I can’t help you there!!
Do England cricketers want to watch the footie that desperately?
5 wickets gone in the second innings, and even the innings loss is not yet averted.
There must be a bonus if they finish within 3 days
It is just a ploy to popularise 3-day Test cricket.
7 specialist batsmen gone, without even overtaking a relatively modest 85-run first innings lead. It is not exactly a minefield either. Sure New Zealand are bowling well, but come on, this is appalling.
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NZ’s SLA has 2 for 2. Fer chrissake.
Clever by Wagner: daring Wood to prove his testosterone level is higher
Stone looks well-organised for a tailender. Maybe he can do an Andy Roberts or Shaun Pollock?
Silverwood is going for the “young batting line-up” approach to explain the total failures of his team. How many matches have the team played?
…..except that they’re all Sachin Tendulkar compared to Jayden Seales…:-)
When they select somebody with 25 career f-c runs–which is probably the batter equivalent of Seales’s record–maybe that idea will hold some water!
Rory Burns has played 25 Tests. Eddie Paynter played 20 Tests over 8 years for an average of 59! Phil Mead played 17 Tests over 17 years for an average of 49. It makes you wonder just how much has changed. Ollie Pope has played 18 Tests! For most players outside England before Packer, that would be their entire Test career