I am writing this as Australia and South Africa do battle in the final of the Womens’ World T20 Cup in front of a packed house crowd at Newlands, Cape Town – I will cover the closing stages of this tournament tomorrow. In this post I look at the first three days play in Wellington, where England are poised to win the test series against New Zealand.
THE ENGLAND FIRST INNINGS
I missed the first day’s play entirely – this being in New Zealand it is happening overnight my time. England were 21-3 at one point, but Harry Brook (184* by the close) and Joe Root (101* by the close) put on an unbroken 294 in what was left of the day – rain called a halt after 65 overs.
Brook was out early on the second day, but Root kept going, and when he reached his 150 Stokes declared. England had amassed 435-8. Root, the greatest English test batter of the 21st century and his heir apparent Brook had scored 339 of those for once out between them (Brook 186, Root 153*).
THE NEW ZEALAND FIRST INNINGS
By the end of day two, again hastened by bad weather, NZ were 135-7 and in all kinds of bother. A blitz by Southee, who ended with 73 off 48 balls, got NZ passed 200, but at 209 all out they had not quite done enough to dodge the follow-on. Anderson, currently the world no1 ranked test bowler at the age of 40, had three wickets as did Broad, and Leach outdid both of them with four. The next question was what Stokes would do – most current test skippers would not have enforced the follow-on, but as Stokes demonstrated at Rawalpindi not so long ago he is emphatically not most current test skippers…
THE NEW ZEALAND SECOND INNINGS
Stokes did enforce the follow-on, correctly in my view, given that this was day three and the weather was not to be relied on. New Zealand batted better second time round and reached the close on 202-3, still 24 runs in arrears. Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls committed absolutely to defence in the latter stages of the day, which is why NZ are still in debit. If New Zealand can bat through day four they may be in a position to cause England trouble, but at the moment England are heavy favourites, and a couple of early strikes to start day four would underline that status.
My usual sign off…