Summer of Sport part5 - Eng v NZ 1st Test match
Eng v NZ 1st Test Lords 2013
The test match summer of 2013 start with a test match at the home of Cricket – Lords. In a year when everybody is talking about the Australians, first of all England have to face a competitive New Zealand side in a two match series. To realise that the opponents are not to be taken lightly, England don’t have to look too far back in time at all. Earlier in the year they played a three match series in New Zealand and England had to fight for all they were worth to come away with a 0-0 draw. The last match in that series was one of the great escapes in test cricket history, England having to survive the last day with already four wickets down, they managed to hang on with one wicket left, thanks largely to herculean efforts from Prior, Bell and Broad. Two things were abundantly clear from that match, one being that test match cricket is still alive and well and can provide its own sort of unique drama that you can’t get from any other sport, the other being that there is an incredible team spirit amongst this current England team and even when they have played badly they are still tough to beat.
Finishing work early afternoon on Thursday allowed me to get to my car and listening to the radio for around half way through the second session. England had won the toss and chosen to bat. Turning the radio on part way through a test match day always means a bit of gradual information gathering, first of all you hear a player’s name and whether he is batting or bowling and that tells you what team is currently batting. Once you know what team is batting you wait to hear which two players are occupying the crease, then you can take an accurate guess at how many wickets the team have lost. On this occasion I can tell England are batting and one of the first things I hear is Geoffrey Boycott saying that they are batting too defensively. To have Mr Boycott saying that about you is a bit like having Sir Alex Ferguson criticising you for being too competitive.
As it happens England have crawled to 160-4 by the time play finishes a little early on the first day due to bad light. From that somewhat dull start it develops into a slow burner of a mini classic. Both bowling attacks outperform their opposition’s batting line ups. For England only Trott and Root look comfortable in both innings, and only Ross Taylor for the Kiwis plays a significant innings that could be described as attacking. On the second day Jimmy Anderson pinches the headlines by becoming only the fourth Englishman to take 300 test match wickets.
It is one of those test matches with several swings in momentum, just when you think that one side is in the ascendency they would lose a bundle of wickets. The low scores mean that the game stayed close for three innings, with England setting New Zealand 239 to win. Just when everybody was looking forward to a close, thrilling finish with a New Zealand run chase, there was one more dramatic and this time decisive momentum shift. England, and Stuart Broad in particular ripped into New Zealand with brilliant bowling, leaving them at 29-6 at lunch, with dreams of a memorable run chase in tatters. Not long after lunch New Zealand were bowled out for 68, finishing with a comical run out. It was the first time England had used just two bowlers to bowl a team out, Broad finishing with six wickets and Anderson with three.
In many ways it was a classic first test of the summer for England, showing plenty of signs of rustiness, especially with the bat, but also showing plenty of class, fighting spirit and ability to learn quickly from mistakes that will all have Australia a little worried.
England 1st innings 232 New Zealand 1st Innings 207
England 2nd Innings 213 New Zealand 2nd Innings 68
England win by 170runs.
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