The Over: England v New Zealand – 2nd Test

Squeezing six points out of a rain affected 85 minutes of on-off-on again-off again might look like a challenge to some. Happily, your writers are verbose like a windbag backbencher claiming their five minutes in the limelight and willing to find significance in the smallest details (much like tonight’s Channel 5 highlights, which showed about half the day’s play by the time they were done). Ahem, with no further ado, onwards…

1. Whoever does England’s weather forecasts could get a long-time job at the Met Office. They’re certainly a lot more optimistic than most had been, and were proved right when the clouds, if they didn’t exactly part, stopped bunging down water for long enough for England to winkle out the last recognised Kiwi batsman.

2. Steven Finn looks to have got his rhythm back. Having mislaid it somewhere at Lord’s during one of his county appearances, he’s looked back to his best yesterday evening and today. His deliveries, particularly those that really cramped batsmen for room, will not have encouraged resolute Antipodean batsmen such as Brad Haddin that this is going to be a productive summer for them. Anyway, if he’s been bowling crap and still taking wickets, think how useful he’ll be once he’s finally sorted (although if its like 2010/11, he’ll be the leading wicket taker and still be dropped for being too expensive).

3. Graeme Swann eh? Having missed out on the chance to fill his boots on a turning wicket last week, he came very, very good this week. Without him, and with the ball not swinging strongly for the seamers, England could have struggled to close out the match in the three and a bit days they managed. Or New Zealand might have collapsed like a bad souffle again against quick bowling. Who knows? Anyway, Swann. He looks fitter than he has for a long time and if the pitches this summer continue to perform in what is, ahem, a suspiciously spin-friendly way he could be in for a good summer.

4. We should probably touch on the declaration. Some of the outraged froth floating around form people whose record as captain wasn’t actually on the line (although you might have been forgiven for thinking otherwise) verged on the ridiculous. The short of the matter is this: England don’t have the Australian attack of Warne, McGrath et al, so they can’t afford to stick people in if they aren’t sure of themselves. Look at South Africa under Smith now: they don’t enforce the follow-on religously, they got to number one by making damn certain they can’t lose matches, then they win them. There’s no reason why England shouldn’t use the same methods.

5. Someone needs to have a word with the ECB about the price of test cricket. The economy remains wholly banjaxed: outside of London it’s really very hard for people to pay vast sums for the dubious pleasure of sitting round in cold winds in May. This is not, we must add, a call to focus text cricket in the South East of England (although if they did decide to play every match at Lord’s or The Oval we’d be able to get to a lot more cricket). One of cricket’s great strengths is that the game plays out at a genuinely national range of grounds and this must be preserved. Please though, no more matches in cold, wet places in May – it helps no-one.

6. There’s a distinct feeling of gripiness around at the moment, perhaps because the team feel that real journos and assembled sad bloggers have been very harsh on them (which they have been, see above and it does seem slightly farcical that after years of dross we’re once again demanding not just wins, but wins with style, panache, flair and all those other non-Cook sort of words). Can we all just acknowledge they won a test match in basically three days, with some ghastly weather going round, Joe Root and Alistair Cook scored good hundreds, the bowling attack looks and good and we can now presumably all talk about the Ashes. (Ed. No, you can’t, Indian TV is going to stuff a surfeit of one day crap, a chunk of which is going to be rained off in Cardiff, down your throats. Sorry).

Over.

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1 Comment

  1. It does seem rather bizarre to see a spinner taking ten wickets at Headingley at any time of the year, let alone May. Not sure how much influence the ECB has over the Yorkshire committee, though! Good to see Swann none the worse for his operation, and I think you’re right that he’s going to enjoy bowling at all those Aussie left-handers.

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