The Over: New Zealand v England – 1st Test

Our usual heroic correspondent was last seen in the bar of an India-New Zealand steamer, bemoaning the lack of decent gin and suggesting that if the boat stopped in Sri Lanka he fancied chucking in the whole cricket nonsense for good. From our icy fastness in the freezing wastes south of the river, we’ve pulled together the following, aided by generous helpings of curry, to sum up what we thought of the first Test.

1. The failure to start tours properly needs to be addressed. Over the last year we’ve seen England struggle in some particularly horrible ways in first Tests of series. The first Test in Sri Lanka last year is the probably the closest comparison – batsmen weren’t being undone by great deliveries, they just found exciting new ways to through their wickets away. By the time Trott was wandering off on Day One, we had a familiar sinking feeling.

2. New Zealand’s batting is probably still crap. Yes it didn’t look like it, but this was a pitch that made the usual Taunton autobahn look devilish, so it would have been bloody hard to not to look good (even England did in their second innings). Pitches like this are phenomenally bad for the game and there have been some good efforts to stamp them out over recent years. More may be required through – for God’s sake Bangladesh have just made over 400-4 in Galle, a feat which can only have been accomplished with the aid of a pitch so unbelievably placid it’s presumably been made of concrete and levelled off with professional road building tools.

3. Compton and Cook are beginning to look like a handyish opening pair. You wouldn’t stay up all night to see them bat admittedly, but since being thrown together in India they’ve made a series of decent scores, even though at least one of them got a shocker a game in India. The real test is obviously yet to come, but we’ve seen enough encouraging signs to make us think this could work, which would have the obvious bonus of not exposing Joe Root at the top of the order. However, the thought of an eventual top four of Cook, Compton, Trott and Root is enough to make one reach straight for the whisky to liven things up a bit.

4. Steven Finn’s batting made Jonathan Trott look cavalier. It was a heroic and very, very handy knock, but dear goodness it was dull. On the other hand, if Stuart Broad could remember how to bat like that occasionally, rather than teeing off and hacking the ball to a boundary field every time, his place would be a lot more secure than it seems at times.

5. Graham Onions has missed the boat. This is a shame. Next.

6. Australia watch – the next test in India gets underway soon and we’ll keep an eye on it. Based on what we’ve seen so far every Englishman should pray for two things: firstly that Swann is fit for the Ashes, given the ease with which R Ashwin has been made to look like a proper international spinner and secondly that we have a hot, dry summer (please, it’s bloody freezing right now…).


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