I’m not quite sure what effect conditions will have today, because there’s a bit of cloud and a bit of sun. The forecast, though, thinks the latter will soon disappear, and things will get greyer through the afternoon – I’d not be surprised to see a few wickets.
A week today, New Zealand will meet India at the Rose Bowl to determine the identity of the world’s best Test team – I can’t wait for that, except I can because I also can’t wait for what’s about to happen today. I do, though, think we need to do something about the format; I’m not sure what, but something. It probably begins with according all series(es) equal value and import.
Neil Wagner is happy. After losing the toss on a pitch looking unlikely to do much, he reckons 258-7 is a decent state of affairs. He was surprised to see the ball keeping as low as it did, and was especially happy with his team’s afternoon behaviour.
Back to Lawrence, you could visibly see him grow in the final hour yesterday – perhaps someone fed him a mushroom at drinks – and he’ll not have wanted the close. Now he’s had that long night of the soul, it seems unlikely he’ll carry on where he left off, but he won’t want to rely too hard on the legends at the other end.
Goodness me, forget all that. Bumble, who started coming in disguise the summer before last (I think) is in tank-top cardigan, flat cap, cravat and pink-lensed sunnies. He looks like the troubled poet who we quickly learn is the murderer in an early episode of Columbo.
I was feeling bad about expecting a hundred from someone who’s “only” on 67 and is yet to make one at this level, but it was in Wardy’s introduction, so we’re good.
Naturally, there are words to say, but really all you need is the scoreboard to know that yesterday we saw and today we are about to see a belting day of Test Match CricketTM. New Zealand are on top, but England have a chance of posting a vaguely acceptable score – especially in the context of their vaguely acceptable pace attack.
Of course, we’ve been here before – most recently a week ago, when England began day four with two set batsman then promptly collapsed in a fashion that was equal parts classic and contemporary. Nor is it hard to foresee a reprise … and yet. Dan Lawrence batted superbly yesterday, and will presumably arrive at the crease having passed a long, lonely night buzzing off a crucial fifty and visualising a life-changing hundred – goodness, I daresay we spent a while doing so on his behalf. More of the same, and everything changes.
The ability to stay calm through such turmoil is one of the many things that sets sportsfolk apart from the rest of us, and it’s Lawrence’s good fortune to have equanimity’s Mark Wood grinning and bouncing at the other end. There would surely be no better man with whom to share a maiden Test-ton hug – I’m gone at the mere thought – but a lot of work is required before we can embrace that embrace. Go well, people.
Play: 11am BST