EvNZ T2 day three

EvNZ T2 day three

Post by Mike Holman » Mon, 07 Jun 2004 09:31:36

The third day saw the match make considerable progress, but with
almost no net effect on the balance of advantage. New Zealand are
still the team with runs in the bank but their attack looks pretty
threadbare, so England still have good fighting chances.

The day started well enough for England, as Harmison induced Cairns to
give a soft catch to Strauss without adding to his overnight score.
Vettori was immediately ready to put himself about, and he and
McCullum continued in the same mood as McC and Cairns had the previous
evening. Vettori looked in very good order, playing some almost
imperious drives.

They added 54 valuable runs until Hoggard somehow managed to bowl
McCullum for that 54. In his next over, he had Tuffey lbw, and in the
next over Harmison cleaned up Vettori's stumps and it was 409 all out
and England had to bat for five overs before lunch. England's four
seamers had shared the wickets 4-2-2-2, which was a tad unfair: had
there been any justice, it would have been four each for Saggers and
Harmison, two for Flintoff and none at all for Hoggard.

Trescothick was in positive mood and hit three boundaries in the five
overs before lunch, which England reached at 20/0. At which point the
Vaughan clan, minus the proud parents themselves, trooped into the
members' bar and wet baby Tallulah's head with copious amounts of
champagne - which event will probably overshadow the disappointment of
Michael's innings later on.

The major criticism of the England bowlers was that they had pitched
too short and not made the batsmen play enough. After lunch,  the New
Zealand bowlers proceeded to demonstrate what happens if you
over-pitch instead: Trescothick and Strauss unleash a series of
crashing drives through cover, extra cover and, especially gloriously
in Tresco's case, very straight. It was interesting to compare the
scoring charts for the two big partnerships so far: Papps and Fleming
had scored about 10% of their runs in front of the wicket, none of
them straight, while Strauss and Trescothick scored about 60% forward
of square, a third of those coming in the V.

Martin appeared to believe that there was another set of stumps about
two feet to the off of the actual ones and bowled at those instead,
which didn't help McCullum's bye count at all, but he was merely the
worst offender. Trescothick has a well-deserved reputation as a weak
attack bully, and he bullied this one because they deserved it.

Not that Strauss was unwilling to come to the party as well. He
carried on from where he'd left off at Lord's as though he'd been
rather rudely interrupted. They did the same as Papps and Fleming in
tapping sharp singles to the infield as well as crashing the
boundaries and bounced along at four an over.

Trescothick reached  his fifty first and was then about 20 ahead of
Strauss, but he then marked time until Strauss had caught up before
setting off again. They reached 153, 113 more than the previous
England first-wicket record v NZ at this ground, at four an over.
Vettori had been on for a few overs, and was beginning to exert some
control over the scoring when Strauss surprisingly spooned a simple
catch to mid-off and departed for 62 and the disappointingly low Test
average of 85.67.

At some point, quite possibly in his next innings, Strauss will fail
and the bubble will burst, but the way he's batting at the moment it's
hard to credit that he hasn't been playing Test cricket for years.
Partnerships of 190, 7 and 153 suggest that he has managed to
establish a pretty reasonable working relationship with Trescothick,
which won't hurt his future chances either.

And so the waters close over Nasser Hussain.

Butcher appeared and looked in considerable trouble against Vettori
before being lbw to him for 4, which brought the new dad to the crease
in his new position.

He scored 13 before edging Styris to a grateful Fleming at slip. He
and Tresco would both have ended with one more had he not run one
short on a three and a thought-to-be-all-run four, which I think
indicates that he was on something of a high and in far too much of a

His leaving and Thorpe's obvious discomfort in the subsequent gloom
meant that Trescothick would receive none of the stick that he'd
deservedly copped for going off for bad light when he and Butcher were
well on top against South Africa last year when Messrs Bucknor and
Taufel (who have been generally excellent, erring only by denying some
rather plumb lbw shouts) offered the chance to retire.

It was obvious there would be no more play, so I left. Except that
they came back on for another 15 minutes, during which Styris had a
ball keep low for Trescothick to drag on to his stumps to end an
excellent 132 and give the advantage back to New Zealand.

I'm biased towards saying that this century was just another example
of Tresco flattering to deceive: no-one's ever really doubted his
ability to put bad bowling to the sword and the New Zealand bowling
was mostly poor - though Cairns gave quite a bit of trouble and
Vettori had Butcher tied in knots. But one hopeful sign was that even
though there was a lot of nonsense flying past his off stump, he
didn't waft his bat airily at them with arms outstretched, not even
once that I saw. It will certainly be interesting to see whether
Edwards and Best can give him the same trouble later this summer as
they did in the Caribbean, but for now it's only polite to applaud a
very good innings indeed.

There is a lot of cricket to be played yet in this match.