“It’s been quite a tough day of Test cricket. Dan played really well and it was pretty even by the end. There’s something in the surface for everyone – it’s a little bit two-paced and it felt hard to force the ball through the inner ring. It swung a bit more after lunch.
“I felt good today, my rhythm has been good and I feel in a good place this summer. I was disappointed with the way I got out - there was a bit of batter error. It was good bowling but I didn’t need to push my hands through. If I let the ball travel another half a yard I could really have nailed it.”
That was a really enjoyable day of Test cricket, with plenty of ebb and flow. England were 72-0, then 175-6 and finally 258-7 at the close. There were some cheap dismissals, and poor James Bracey went for a golden duck. But Rory Burns continued his fine form with an excellent 81 and Dan Lawrence, with determined support from the lower order, made a stylish unbeaten 67. He’s got something about him.
There were two wickets for Trent Boult, Matt Henry and the spinner Ajaz Patel, who may have bowled himself into the WTC final. New Zealand are probably just ahead, and if England had their time again I suspect they would bowl first because the ball swung all day. Batting should be easier tomorrow. Should.
89th over: England 258-7 (Lawrence 67, Wood 16) Lawrence drives a Boult inswinger down the ground for four, another eyecatching stroke. After a very nervous start, he has played with style, authority and (mostly) excellent judgement. And despite a few quiet periods in his innings, he is still scoring at a cracking rate: his 67 has come from only 99 balls. Boult, meanwhile, ends a rewarding day’s work with figures of 23-4-60-2.
“England’s batting is brittle,” says Mike Galvin. “I feel for Crawley but he needs a break from international duty.”
Agreed. It’s so frustrating because his game is custom-made for playing in Australia, but his confidence is through the floor. He could come back for the winter, along with Malan, Vince, Stoneman, Hameed and all our other fantasy selections.
88th over: England 254-7 (Lawrence 63, Wood 16) Lawrence has played second fiddle to Stone and Wood, which seems counter-intuitive but is probably quite sensible given how close we are to stumps. He needs to be there in the morning. Besides, Wood is playing nicely: he ends Henry’s over with a stylish drive through mid-on for four.
87th over: England 248-7 (Lawrence 63, Wood 10) Wood pushes Boult for a single to move into double figures. England’s weakish lower order have battled admirably this evening, which has enabled a partial recovery from 175 for six.
REVIEW! England 247-7 (Wood not out 9) Mark Wood is given out off Boult but successfully reviews. It was a beautiful inswinger from Boult that missed the outside edge and brushed the pad on its way through to the keeper Blundell. They checked fort the LBW as well, just in case, and replays showed the ball was bouncing over.
Wood is not out! Okay, not so tough - Michael Gough very quickly decides it was bat first. The commentator Simon Doull isn’t convinced, and nor am I because there was a spike before the ball touched the bat. It looks like it might have been pad then bat then pad again.
85th over: England 246-7 (Lawrence 63, Wood 8) A lucky escape for Lawrence, who tries to pull Boult and gloves the ball this far wide of leg stump. It doesn’t change his attacking approach, though, and he cover-drives the next ball majestically for four. He ends the over by flicking wristily over backward square leg for another impressive boundary. It’s too early to know whether Lawrence will crack Test cricket, but there’s a helluva lot to like about his batting.
84th over: England 238-7 (Lawrence 55, Wood 8) Wood is squared up by Henry and edges on the bounce to one of the many New Zealanders in the slip cordon. As disappointing as England have been, we shouldn’t ignore another skilful, smart bowling performance from New Zealand.
83rd over: England 235-7 (Lawrence 54, Wood 7) Wood is beaten, cutting a little loosely at Boult. That was a poor stroke in an otherwise responsible innings. Then he survives a pretty big LBW shout after falling over an inswinger. It was close but would probably have missed leg, and New Zealand barely discuss a review.
82nd over: England 234-7 (Lawrence 53, Wood 7) Matt Henry shares the second new ball. I’ve never understood why his Test record is so poor - 33 wickets at 50 - as he is a terrific bowler. He has been good today, though, and almost picks up a third wicket when Wood is beaten by a jaffa that boings off the seam.
81st over: England 234-7 (Lawrence 53, Wood 7) Trent Boult returns, new ball in hand, and has a biggish LBW shout against Lawrence first ball. Too high. After lining up a few inswingers, Lawrence clips nicely through midwicket for three. The crowd, high on life, cricket and gallons of drink, start belting out ‘Football’s Coming Home’.
80th over: England 230-7 (Lawrence 50, Wood 6) Lawrence drives Patel for a single to reach a confident fifty, his third in Tests, from 75 balls. Wood defends the remainder of the over, and it’s time for the second new ball.
79th over: England 229-7 (Lawrence 49, Wood 6) Mitchell returns for a one-over spell before the second new ball. Lawrence, who if anything has batted more responsibly since being left with the bowlers, pushes a single to move within one of another half-century.
78th over: England 228-7 (Lawrence 48, Wood 6) “Agree with Peter Rowntree - surely Malan’s got to get a look-in?” says Toby Sims. “It seems he’s got ‘Carberry-itis’ - plenty of talent, tekkers and been unfairly discarded. I know he’s a T20 man, but I reckon he knows his game well enough...”
There are so many variables that it’s hard to be sure, but his relative success in Australia last time means he has every chance of going on the Ashes tour. He batted at No3 in his first Championship game of the season last week, which was a smart move, as was scoring 199.
77th over: England 226-7 (Lawrence 48, Wood 4) Wagner has decided to rough up the new batter Mark Wood. He has a short leg, leg gully and short midwicket. After defending the first short ball, Wood decides to fight back with pulls for two and then one.
“Do you feel the promotion has aided Olly Stone?” says James Burgess. “I remember Moeen Ali batted very differently when he was at 8 or 9 compared to 6 and 7. Has being bumped up to 8 given him the confidence and responsibility to bat properly?”
I don’t know whether it made him bat more responsibly but I’d imagine it boosted his self-esteem and determination, especially as he’s playing on his home ground.
Stone misses a sweep at a good delivery from Patel that straightens to hit him straight in the box. Richard Illingworth gives it out and, though Stone reviews, replays show it would have hit the top of, erm, middle stump. England had three reviews left so it was worth the risk.
75th over: England 222-6 (Lawrence 48, Stone 20) Lawrence drives Wagner through mid-off for four. Boult, sprawling to his right, probably should have done better. The ball has gone out of shape, so there’s a break in play while it is changed - and then Lawrence laces a superb drive past mid-off for four more. Boult had no chance with that.
“To me, there look to be two England vacancies,” says Peter Rowntree. “The No3 slot and that of reserve wicket-keeper. Top wicket-keeper in the country is Ollie Robinson of Kent. The batsman most talked about who could do a job for England at No3 is Dawid Malan.”
73rd over: England 214-6 (Lawrence 40, Stone 20) An attempted inswinging yorker from Wagner is well blocked by Stone, who was almost knocked off his feet as he skidded around in his crease. Later in the over Stone cuffs a short ball through the covers from three. That takes him to 20 not out, the highest score of his short Test career. He’s played with determination and common sense.
72nd over: England 211-6 (Lawrence 40, Stone 17) Patel returns to the attack, which will give Lawrence a stick-or-twist dilemma before the second new ball. Lawrence nearly adds a third option - stick, twist or do one - when he is dropped by Blundell off the second ball. It was a tough low chance, almost off the face of the bat as Lawrence tried an improvised late cut, and Blundell couldn’t hold on. Thus reprieved, Lawrence moves into the forties by tickling a loose delivery down the leg side for four.
71st over: England 207-6 (Lawrence 36, Stone 17) Stone thick-edges Wagner for four, not once but twice. He’s scrapping hard and even looks like he’s enjoying himself, which is an achievement in itself.
“Afternoon Rob,” says Tom Hopkins. “Buchan’s on the OBO!! Throw out your history books, everything else is a footnote! Can you check whether his mind is, in fact, as warped as his ear?”
70th over: England 199-6 (Lawrence 36, Stone 9) Stone clouts a full ball from Mitchell through the covers for three. It’s on! And if anyone knows what it is, I’m all ears.
“I could forgive the first Test as it was a full strength NZ against a second string England batting lineup,” says Richard O’Hagan. “But now the second string NZ attack is arguably doing better than the first choices did. The cupboard is starting to look depressingly bare again, isn’t it?”
68th over: England 193-6 (Lawrence 34, Stone 5) Stone is dominating this partnership, at least in terms of balls faced, and the scoring rate has dropped as a result. Now Lawrence is in on the act, playing out a maiden from Mitchell.
It might be better for England to get a wriggle on in the hope that Anderson can do some damage with the ball tonight.
“Hi Rob,” says Andrew Cosgrove. “I read your over 60 entry as ‘Lawrence gets four more with a burlesque slap through the covers off Henry’, which would sum up England’s batting quite nicely.”