22nd over: New Zealand 62-2 (Williamson 31, Conway 11) Potts concedes his first run of this spell as Williamson gets a tickle to fine leg. Do you get the feeling he’s planning a hundred?
“The thing is,” says Matt Dony, “guessing Wordle on the first try would be a good story, but ultimately unfulfilling as an experience. No skill involved. Anyone could do it. Sort of like surviving a Broad referral. Or beating Manchester United.” Ouch.
21st over: New Zealand 61-2 (Williamson 30, Conway 11) Leach continues and there’s a single to Williamson followed by a string of dots to Conway, who gets frustrated and tries a reverse sweep that almost bobbles up into the arms of Broad at backward point.
20th over: New Zealand 60-2 (Williamson 29, Conway 11) Stokes gives Overton a breather and a pat on the back. His Test career figures, 5-0-17-0, could easily be 5-0-15-2. Potts returns with a maiden and some authoritative field-setting. Not content with having too many Test seamers when they’re all fit, England have discovered two more this month.
“Hey Tim,” says Rory Davies, “in the spirit of ‘teach a man to fish and he’ll have fish for life’, Heyden should go to the BBC Cricket page, then click on the LIVE match link. From there the TMS Overseas link is available (at the bottom of the photo, but above the over by over commentary).” You mean they do an OBO too?
19th over: New Zealand 60-2 (Williamson 29, Conway 11) Leach deceives Williamson, who gives him the charge, gets beaten in the flight, and ends up toe-ending a straight slog. It clears mid-off and brings a jammy four. Leach then blots his copybook by dropping short and giving Williamson a late cut for four more, but this is encouraging from Leach. Maybe he’s not a bad first-innings bowler after all – he just needed to feel the warmth of the crowd behind him.
18th over: New Zealand 52-2 (Williamson 21, Conway 11) Williamson brings up the NZ fifty in style, with an on-drive for four off Overton.
Here’s John Starbuck. “The key words for determining the state of, and changes to, the pitch’s humidity, speed, swerve etc. are ‘incremental improvement’,” he reckons. “If you make some measurements with instruments checking general humidity, for instance, you should be able to work out the effects of e.g. windspeed. It well be that infra-red spectrum analysis is worth a try, to start. Expert meteorologists will be able to suggest how to finesse this. The more data you can discover, the better the analysis becomes, though keeping an open mind is also key.” In other words, it is rocket science.
17th over: New Zealand 46-2 (Williamson 16, Conway 10) Conway, relieved not to be facing Overton, dances down the track to loft Leach for four.
“Overseas link,” says Richard Woods, “working perfectly in China.”
16th over: New Zealand 41-2 (Williamson 16, Conway 5) Overton beats Conway outside off, with his near-yorker, then raps him in the midriff with the one that comes back in. He’s bowling almost as well on debut as Potts did at Lord’s, though the wickets column refuses to show it.
15th over: New Zealand 40-2 (Williamson 16, Conway 4) Leach bowls his first bad ball, a long hop outside off, but gets away with it as Williamson can’t find a gap with his cut. Maybe he’s still out of form after all.
“We’ve found Gary’s Wordle starting word,” says The Stellarossa on Twitter. “Hokum!” Ha. Mine is either stare or atone, and the other day I typed in stare – only to find the right answer was atone.
14th over: New Zealand 40-2 (Williamson 16, Conway 4) Conway, facing Overton for the first time, leaves on length and gets away with it but only just as Overton’s natural shape brings the ball back in to the left-hander. Overton has neither a wicket nor a maiden yet in his three-over Test career, but he’s providing an examination.
“Hi Tim,” says Heyden Jones, “loving the commentary. In the past the TMS link has been shown, mailing from France, would love to listen also. TTFN.” I suspect the hive mind can help.
13th over: New Zealand 39-2 (Williamson 15, Conway 4) Devon Conway announces himself with a cover-drive for four, though Leach has a good retort, a quicker ball that brings a squirt past gully.
The wicket was a triumph for two players who will always be associated with Headingley. Ben Stokes brought his spinner on 55 minutes before most captains would have done, and Jack Leach, whose every touch of the ball has been cheered, used that morale-boost to go straight on the attack.
The wicket brings drinks, with England winning the day so far, though it still looks good for batting – sun out, ball coming on nicely.
Ben Stokes gives Jack Leach an early go and it pays off instantly! His first ball is a slow left-armer’s classic, pitching on middle drifting in, straightening, smacking the pad and bringing the raised finger. Young, whose bat got stuck behind his leg, reviews in hope rather than expectation, and Aleem Dar sends him on his way.
12th over: New Zealand 35-1 (Young 20, Williamson 15) Overton continues and Young pulls again, for three. As well as switching from short to full, Overton seems to alternate between 87mph and 83, as if he’s trying to be Mark Wood and Jimmy Anderson at the same time.
“With all the data these days,” says Gary Naylor, “I’m continually surprised that there’s no proper metrics to evaluate the pace of a pitch or the atmospherics that produce swing or its close cousin, wobble. Lots on outcomes; not much on inputs. That said, most data is hokum anyway.” Ha. If it was really hokum, why would you care about what it covers?
11th over: New Zealand 30-1 (Young 16, Williamson 13) Young, facing Broad, suddenly tries a pull. The ball isn’t short enough and he gets a bottom edge which might be the end of him if it hadn’t struck the back of his leg. Broad smiles knowingly and follows up with a ball that is there for the pull. Young plays it better and picks up a single to deep square.
10th over: New Zealand 28-1 (Young 15, Williamson 13) Jamie Overton’s first ball in international cricket is an interesting one: short, fast and swinging away – the ball Steve Harmison was trying to bowl when he endangered second slip. A similar delivery brings four as Young plays a cut, but he’s straining to reach it and could easily have got a nick (which might have gone for six over third man). Overton keeps swinging through the whole over, mixing the short stuff with a full length. Watching him is not going to be dull.
9th over: New Zealand 24-1 (Young 11, Williamson 13) Williamson plays the shot of the day so far, easing Broad past mid-off. Is he creeping into form? We can but hope. Here comes Jamie Overton to test him with some fast stuff.
8th over: New Zealand 19-1 (Young 10, Williamson 9) Just a single off Pott’s over, which rather passed me by as I was too busy writing the below. The social and cultural stuff takes longer to write about than mere nicks and fours.
7th over: New Zealand 18-1 (Young 9, Williamson 9) As Broad continues, there’s another clip from Young (for three) and a near run-out from Williamson, who would be gone if Potts’sshy at the non-striker’s stumps had hit.
“Might I suggest, in the mildest and most amiable way possible,” says Bob Wilson, “that Eoin Morgan’s team did not at all lead the way on diversity in selection. The 80’s selectors did an infinitely better job and scribes under 45 risk dissing some great players if they don’t acknowledge that. Bright-burning candles like Devon Malcolm, Mark Butcher and Gladdy Small. Not to mention my own fave, Phil DeFreitas, who once projectile-vomited in his run-up and then bowled the delivery anyway (and he looked lovely in a dress). The current fall-off in representation has an uncomfortably racist underbelly but it’s principally about class, about free-to-air television and state schools’ sporting resources.
“Last year, sportswriters were doing the same puffery about the diversity of the England football team. I couldn’t help but think about how irritated that must have made Viv Anderson feel. That was a generation of players who did blaze a trail (and often got their toes pretty scorched in consequence). But given football’s decent representation rate, that ahistorical sloppiness is merely ignoring or undervaluing individual grace and moral courage. When you neglect previous POC achievement in English cricket, it is to ignore the vertiginously horrible fact that we’ve gone backwards.
I usually try to be funny but I can’t think of any jokes for this one.”
No diss intended to anyone – including the white men in the present XI. And you’re right, I didn’t mean to suggest that Morgan invented multiculturalism, just that he’s been good at maintaining it. He made a point of mentioning it when England won the World Cup. As a scribe over 45, I was in the press box when Malcolm and Daffy and Gladys and Chris Lewis were all there or thereabouts. Butcher, who came along a bit later, may end up the most significant figure of them all, as an outstanding commentator.
6th over: New Zealand 14-1 (Young 8, Williamson 6) An excellent over from Potts, with only moral victories to show for it. He beats Williamson’s outside edge, then draws an inside edge that dribbles away for a single.
5th over: New Zealand 13-1 (Young 8, Williamson 5) Undaunted by that near-miss, Williamson glances Broad again and gets a single. As Broad goes full, looking for more swing, Young has an easy clip for two.
“England not on trial today,” says Andrew Benton, “but have they got the fight to get another victory? That would mark a change from the old if so. And am I the only reader who now finds one day and T20 games totally pants? I couldn’t have given a fart in a friary for the Netherlands series.” For a series of mismatches, with many players missing on both sides, it was actually a lot of fun. Jos Buttler bringing his regal form from the IPL, Eoin Morgan struggling to buy a run, Scott Edwards showing his class three times in a row, some rapid evolution in the England attack… I’ve seen worse. And the resurgence of the Test side has come from being more like the white-ball squad, hasn’t it?
4th over: New Zealand 10-1 (Young 6, Williamson 4) Potts drops short and Young cuts for four with the greatest of ease. “Such a fast outfield, Headingley,” says Nasser Hussain. After that, it’s all dots with one fine take from Ben Foakes, his second of the morning.
“‘Eadingley, eh?” says Jeremy Boyce. “My mum’s parents worked at the Lounge Cinema and lived round the corner, my parents were married at the church next to the ground (St Mark’s?), there was a Test match on (1953, Aussies?) and the first question my dad asked as they sat back in the taxi was to the driver, ‘What’s the latest score?’. I’m not sure my mum ever forgave him. Any road oop, it’s good to have proper crikkit back where it belongs.”
3rd over: New Zealand 6-1 (Young 2, Williamson 4) England do have a cunning plan for Kane Williamson: get him strangled down the leg side. And it very nearly works first ball! Stokes posts a leg slip, Broad goes straighter than usual, Williamson takes the bait, and the ball flies between Ben Foakes and that leg slip, Ollie Pope. Thereafter Broad reverts to type, bowling fifth-stump, and Williamson watches the ball go by until the end of the over, when Broad produces a beauty, angled in, swinging away and missing the edge. Good contest!
2nd over: New Zealand 2-1 (Young 2, Williamson 0) In the absence of Jimmy Anderson, Matthew Potts gets a promotion. On debut, at Lord’s, he kept making things happening in his first over, but this time it’s only a clip for two from Will Young to get NZ off the mark.
A replay shows that Joe Root, on taking the catch, charged off to embrace Jack Leach. “Did Leach have a cunning plan?” wonders one of the commentators. If so, it was quite a familiar one: bowl in the channel and wait for the nick.
1st over: New Zealand 0-1 (Young 0, Williamson 0) And here comes a very out-of-form NZ captain. For once, England are making Test cricket look easy.
First blood to Broad! After leaving a few, Latham send a classic nick into the hands of first slip. Are you David Warner in disguise?
The anthems have been sung and the ball is in the hands of a man in a bandana: Stuart Broad.
England are not on trial today, for once, but Headingley is. Yorkshire CCC has had a shocker, as Sky has just shown with a quick guide to the racism scandal. “Cricket needs better leadership,” says Mike Atherton. “From both Yorkshire and the ECB.” Amen to that.
Yorkshire’s love of cricket is not in doubt. But it’s a shame that England, with Jofra Archer injured and Moeen Ali still theoretically unavailable, are putting out a less than multicultural XI. On this front, as on a few others, Eoin Morgan’s white-ball team lead the way.
“With the Ashes only 13 months away,” says Pete Salmon, “surely it’s time to start tinkering with the team so the best possible XI runs out in July 2023?” Ha. They did overdo the tinkering last year, but some of the objections to tinkering are based on a fallacy – that there’s a clear first XI that we can all agree on.
“What’s the weather looking like?” asks Tintenfische on Twitter. “Whole days play?” Yes – cloudy with sunny spells, according to the Met Office. But there’s rain around for the other four days, with tomorrow looking particularly dicey.
Jimmy Anderson drops out with a niggly ankle, though he might have been rested anyway. And the Overton window opens – for Jamie, making his England debut, rather than his twin brother Craig, who arrived in the world three minutes earlier and on the Test scene three years earlier. As bowlers, they are far from identical: Craig is line and length, Jamie fire and brimstone. Craig has just given Jamie his first Test cap, becoming the first twin brother to carry out that happy duty, and also probably the first guy to do it for someone who has just felled him with a bouncer.
England 1 Zak Crawley, 2 Alex Lees, 3 Ollie Pope, 4 Joe Root, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Ben Stokes (capt), 7 Ben Foakes (wkt), 8 Jamie Overton, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Matthew Potts, 11 Jack Leach.
Williamson returns, NZ bat deep, and there’s an overdue recall for Neil Wagner, their unsung hero.
New Zealand 1 Tom Latham, 2 Will Young, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Devon Conway, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 Daryl Mitchell, 7 Tom Blundell (wkt), 8 Michael Bracewell, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Neil Wagner, 11 Trent Boult.
Kane Williamson is back and he’s got one thing right already, possibly two. He wins the toss and likes the look of the pitch, which has already been described by one commentator as “a featherbed”.
Morning everyone and welcome to another day of international cricket. If it’s Thursday, it must be a Test match. About 19 hours after one England XI sealed a one-day series in the Netherlands, another will take the field at Headingley to see if they too can pull off a clean sweep. Or should that be a clean reverse sweep, now that the Test team have become as buccaneering as their white-ball brethren.
It’s time to buckle up again and enjoy the ride. Ben Stokes says England will go even harder this time, a plan that may involve rewriting the laws of physics. New Zealand, who won the World Test Championship only a year ago, are due a win, and they did make 550 after being put in to bat. But England have our old friend Mo Mentum on their side, as well as a new-manager bounce from Brendon McCullum, the super-enabler whose fingerprints can still be found on New Zealand’s spirited style of play.
This game is at Headingley, where it’s easy to picture either set of seamers having a ball – or getting a pasting if the sun comes out. The fastest of them will be Jamie Overton, making his Test debut at the expense of his twin Craig. There is, as ever, no shortage of sub-plots, so do keep this window open. Play starts at 11am UK time, 10pm in New Zealand, and I’ll be back 25 minutes before that with news of the toss.
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