11th over: England 21-6 (Ali 0, Woakes 3) England’s lowest-ever Test score is 45, at Sydney in 1887. They won.
“Are we still wondering why Kane put England in?” asks Paul Cockburn.
No, Paul. Were we ever?
Push-drive from Bairstow, and Southee dives and tumbles to take an absolute bazzer! New Zeland have held everything, they’ve bowled like God’s dad, and this Test is almost over! Oh, England! Ohhhhh, New Zealand!
11th over: England 18-5 (Bairstow 0, Ali 0) Let’s enjoy the silence.
THIS IS AMAZING! TRENT BOULT IS STORMING! He goes wide on the crease again, flings down at pace, and after shaping them away, this one goes into Stokes then in again at the last second, kissing the outside of the top of off! This spell should be hanging in a gallery!
10th over: England 18-4 (Stokes 0, Bairstow 0) There are no devils in this track, it’s just good bowling and, I guess, batsmen not grooved against it. Cook and Root in particular got jaffas, but they might’ve found a way had they played themselves in.
Ohhhhhh yes! Full one from Southee, pushed across Stoneman and moving late. He opts to play but what else can he do, and edges behind where Watling picks up another smart snaffle. All out by lunch?
9th over: England 16-3 (Stoneman 9, Stokes 0) Boult beats Stokes with one an absolute son of one, spitting away. Wicket maiden; Boult has 3-7, and he is … he just is! Almost every ball asking a question, the batsmen knowing an unplayable one is imminent.
This is very, very good! Boult goes wide on the crease and screeches down another, full of length as Malan reacts slowly and the ball swings fastly. Eventually he inches a bat at it, guides a catch behind which is well taken by Watling moving to his right, and New Zealand have a hobnail boot right on England’s trachea.
8th over: England 16-2 (Stoneman 9, Malan 2) Root has only four ducks in 120 innings – perhaps he could have defended instead of trying a drive, but Boult’s delivery was serious however he played it. After three dots, Malan scrambles through a pull for one – is this some kind of cunning plan? – and then when Southee opts to go around, Stoneman cuts him hard fo fo.
7th over: England 11-2 (Stoneman 5, Malan 1) Out comes Malan to find four slips and a gully – Boult has 2-2. But he allows Malan one on the pads first up, which he duly flicks away to get down the other end. It seems Kane Williamson knows more about captaincy than me, incredible scenes. Anyway, Stoneman starts the fight back, gliding a straight one through midwicket, so Bolt retorts with a short one which spits above the handle.
Trent Boult! Trent Boult! Trent Boult! What another delivery this is, fast, full, swinging in around the pads, and far, far too good for Joe Root – not words anyone writes often. He tries to drive, leaves a big gap, and the ball crashes through it into the timber. England are in all sorts!
6th over: England 6-1 (Stoneman 1, Root 0) Southee is going at Stoneman, who after four dots tries a straight pull. But the bat spins slightly in his hand and he doesn’t get hold of it. A further dot follows, and that’s another maiden.
5th over: England 6-1 (Stoneman 1, Root 0) Looking again at that dismissal, Cook’s feet weren’t going at all. He went back, then felt all over for the ball, until eventually it found him. It takes Boult two balls to get Root playing, and the second of those, the last of the over, is nasty, an inswinging yorker. It’s dug out, but that’s still a wicket maiden.
What a brute this is! Boult lands one full of length, moving away hard and fast. Cook is drawn towards it for it is beautiful, and edges to two. Brilliant bowling.
4th over: England 6-0 (Cook 5, Stoneman 1) Good length from Southee, Cook comes forward and is diddled by late movement in, inside-edging for one. Stoneman then turns away to fine leg, and Cook adds a third single. England will be happy with this start.
“A Test Match at an empty stadium,” tweets Gangesh. “A shocker. ICC has a lot to ponder on this issue of bringing the viewers to the arena. Before it is too late.”
It’s killing me, this. South Africa-Australia has also been poorly attended, and I just don’t know how we attract people if they’re not interested in or can’t manage a day with their mates, eating and drinking while watching elite sport.
3rd over: England 3-0 (Cook 3, Stoneman 0) I’m surprised New Zealand opted to field, I must say. I get that taking 20 wickets is hard, but it’s easier when you’ve got a score on the board than when you get a third session under lights, assuming the side batting first don’t collapse. But Cook then plays a false shot – it’s there to hit, because Boult bangs one in and it sits up, so he pulls – is early on it, and drags into the air, only for it to drop safe. They run one, the only score from the over, and Stoneman has faced just three of 18 deliveries so far.
2nd over: England 2-0 (Cook 2, Stoneman 0) Southee also finds swing first up, lots of it, but on leg … Cook still follows it, missing, and Watling does really well to dive and stop. Next, he’s outside off, but with his fourth ball is right on the money and Cook comes forward. Cook has had a very severe haircut, a short back and sides I imagine, and takes a single to leg off the the final delivery.
1st over: England 1-0 (Cook 1, Stoneman 0) Bolt gets good carry first up, swinging well away from Cook, who gets bat on the second one. Eden Park is pretty empty, which means the terrible singing of the Barmy Army can easily ruin everyone’s day. They sing Jerusalem and pause to applaud themselves as Cook turns off his toes for one, the only run from the over.
… and in comes Trent Boult!
Alastair Cook is taking guard…
The players are out…
Cricinfo have heard that Stokes might not bowl in this Test and I’d not be at all surprised were that the plan. Good luck denying him the ball, Skip.
Lot of work to do to get another 50. Can he get good enough overseas?
England do have a lot of bowlers – five seamers, Moeen Ali and Joe Root. My guess is that they reckon Woakes + Overton = a batsman.
I can’t wait to see how Boult, Southee and Wagner get after it. England can expect to be asked questions right from the off, and have been struggling for top-order runs for quite some time.
New Zealand: Raval, Latham, Williamson (c), Taylor, Nicholls, Watling (w), de Grandhomme, Astle, Southee, Wagner, Boult.
England: Cook, Stoneman, Root (c), Malan, Stokes, Bairstow (w), Moeen Ali, Woakes, Overton, Broad, Anderson
Root would’ve batted as he says it looks a good track and England will get at least two sessions of daylight. He’s going to bat three “in this match” – because Ben Stokes isn’t expected to do much bowling, James Vince is out. Stokes will bat at five, and Woakes and Overton are the third and fourth seamers, which means no Mark Wood. I’d have him him, now that you ask – England could use his pace, can afford his pace with Stokes back, and I’ve not forgotten how ineffective Woakes was in Australia.
Kane Williamson says that he wants to take advantage of whatever moisture is in the pitch, He says Ross Taylor isn’t just fit but good, and BJ Watling will bat at six.
Root calls heads, tails it is.
James Franklin reckons this is a good toss to lose…
Basically, Broad is an absolute champion. I am in awe of him.
Back to Stuart Broad, we’re watching a recorded interview with him. Ian Ward is wearing terrible shorts, pleated with a belt. Oh my. Anyway, Broad is excited to get to 400 Test wickets – he has 399 – and has done some work getting his wrist behind the ball, as he’d got too used to bowling around the wicket to the left-hander. This has seen him struggle against the righites, and he’s not getting the away movement he once did – he hopes he’s sorted that, and will now rediscover those devastating streaks for which he’s so famous.
Obviously he sees his demotion positively – if he doesn’t open the bowling, he can get his first 30 balls at, say Ross Taylor. He recalls that a few years ago, Anderson had a down period and people said he was coming to the end, ahahahahahahaha!
So far, there have been eight day-night Tests. Each won has delivered a definitive result.
It’s nice and sunny at Auckland. Talking about the England team, Athers reckons Stuart Broad should take the new ball – in warm-up, it was taken away from him to prepare the side for when he and James Anderson quit, Joe Root not wanting to find two openers.
“Why are you in such a state?!” is a question and statement to which many of us have had to respond. And it is easier to answer some times than others; “It’s my hundredth birthday today” works better than “Because”, and “I’ve just brought about world peace” tends to be better received than “Why not?” Moral of the story: context is everything.
Except it isn’t, reason being those “Because” and “Why not?” occasions were worth their weight in aggravation. Context isn’t everything, pleasure, joy and self-loathing are everything.
As such, though it’s not entirely easy to rationalise quite what England are doing playing two Tests in New Zealand, and to what end, it doesn’t matter. These are two fascinating, fun and attitudinous teams, so watching them wrestle cannot fail to elevate our next few weeks. Let’s dig in and enjoy!
Play: 1am GMT