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New Zealand v England, 1st Test, Hamilton, 3rd day
David Lloyd: A poor pitch for Test cricket
March 7, 2008
England batsmen again failed to get the big hundreds as New Zealand stuck to their well-charted plans
 
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Kevin Pietersen tried to force the pace but failed © Getty Images
 

Andrew Miller: England's batting hasn't gone according to plan David. They presumably set out to try and score centuries on what is a pretty flat pitch, but they still haven't managed any.

David Lloyd: No, look at this line-up and the top six batsmen average over 40. I go back to an interview with Michael Vaughan before play, and he said that it is not played on paper. It's not about averaging 40 but about the top six scoring centuries.

So many have got starts again, pleasant 60s, 40s and 30s and not gone on. It is a difficult pitch, and I think it is back-breaking for everybody concerned. I am sure that you will hear it from Peter Moores and Vaughan that batsmen did the work, got themselves in and got themselves out. That has made it quite a difficult day but I would also say that it has been pretty comfortable day.

It has been really tough for spectators, with the scoring-rate being negligible and so many maidens, and I would have to say it is a poor pitch for Test cricket. I would force that by talking about the one-day pitch, which was a cracking one with pace and bounce, and that made it interesting for the players and the spectators. Let's not forget that it is all about spectators and their interest in the game and it has been tough today.

AM: What were the highlights for you? Daniel Vettori had a very fine spell with the ball.

DL: I would say that New Zealand has an ordinary attack, and I am not being disrespectful there. But I think they have controlled themselves very well and controlled the game very well. They worked to plans, very well laid out plans, and that would be Vettori, Stephen Fleming and John Bracewell.

This pitch and cricket just smacks of Bracewell and Gloucestershire at Bristol: a pitch that is slow and worn and the wicketkeeper stands up to stop you scoring and frustrates you. I thought New Zealand played to the plan very well: both the opening bowlers tried to hit the pitch and make something happen, not a lot did happen but nevertheless the effort was there.

It was good to see both spinners, Jeetan Patel and Vettori, bowling in tandem and that was an interesting part of the game. I thought England were hell-bent on taking time out of the game knowing that they had to save the follow-on and they did that without any alarms.

Paul Collingwood and Tim Ambrose got them past that so it was a fairly comfortable day for England without the centuries. Not a lot to shout all about this game, one little thing - Ambrose looks fine, England's new wicketkeeper. He looks okay. He came out and it took him an eternity to get off the mark - 18 deliveries and you get that relief when you get your first run. Other than that, he looked pretty compact and organised.

AM: Talking of comebacks, what about Andrew Strauss? He got 43 and he looked the part until after lunch, of course.

DL: It was a workman like innings and, when Vettori bowled on a desperately slow pitch, he wasn't prepared to hit him over the top with the spin - it was not in his repertoire and he didn't want to do that. And when he was dismissed after the break, I said on the air that it was a mechanical shot, was not a flowing shot, he just tried to work it with the spin. It looked stilted and disjointed, the way he played and he fell over in the end.

When you looked at it again, it was a flighted delivery and Vettori had dropped his pace by four or five miles per hour. He dropped it into the rough, the ball spun and got through the gate. Strauss has got himself back into the team and he would have liked to get more, but one thing I would say - he looked pretty comfortable, he looked fine until he got out.

AM: What about Kevin Pietersen? His innings is generally the barometer of how England are performing. He started nicely: a third-ball six and then it went a bit quiet for him.

DL: The way Pietersen played reminded me so much of Pietersen in Sri Lanka against Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan]. It was same pitch, exactly the same, and Pietersen wanted to get on, and the ego wanted to entertain the crowd and take the game away. He couldn't do it on this pitch, and some really good field placings from Vettori stopped him from doing it. I just had the impression that he tried to step on it once he got to forty. He doesn't like the tempo of his innings to meander along. As he did in Sri Lanka, he tried and was really annoyed when he got out - a bat pad catch back to the bowler.

AM: So what is the world of cricket to do with pitches like this? We arrived in New Zealand after playing in the subcontinent. England would have assumed that they would end up with some green tops with bit more life in them.

DL: It's obviously a pitch that has been designed to take all the life out of the game. I have asked Chris Broad, who is a match referee off duty and he wanted to watch his son Stuart play, whether there was a directive by the ICC about preparing pitches and he said that there was. There is an marking system, something like rating the pitch very good, good, average, below average, poor and unfit. I would say that this is a very poor pitch, not unfit for it implies that it is dangerous and somebody is going to get hurt. You are not [going to get hurt] here but you are going to bore everybody rigid.

AM: Well, England would liked to have bored themselves rigid with centuries, but they have scored just one century in last four Tests and it's been a while. Is it a mental thing, is there something that is going to worry them about this lack of hundreds.

DL: I will go back to the Vaughan interview before the game. And that's exactly what he said before a ball was bowled in this game: 'It's nothing to do with ability; it's all in the head. We need to get more hundreds and it's nothing to do with ability.'

AM: Well, England have two more days left and they are behind at this moment but, on this pitch, the game is still looking like a draw.

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Posted by Mprezd on (March 7, 2008, 18:03 GMT)

I think David Lloyd's comments are off the mark. While there is not a lot of life in this pitch both teams have had roughly the same opportunity. He gives virtually no credit to New Zealand's attack and makes no mention of the fact that, in comparison with England's attack, they are bowling well and bowling to the conditions. Put simply, England have failed to adjust to the pitch conditions both with bat and ball. Brendon McCullum showed on day 1 that you are able to take the attack to the bowlers on this pitch - something England have failed to do at any point. Pietersen was the only England batsman to even look like playing with any intent - regardless of his strike rate. It is a shame that an ex-player with such a fine reputation blames the pitch, and not his own country-men for the slow nature of the 3rd day's play. England have batted negatively since the outset, intent on forcing a draw. He also gives no credit to New Zealands bowlers.

Posted by tatamimatt on (March 7, 2008, 16:27 GMT)

Following the game on cricinfo Japan on Cricinfo. Haven't seen any TV coverage but enjoy cricinfo commentary. Struggling to understand David Lloyd's comments about the pitch though (nothing to do with his accent!). It seemed that NZ were able to score at a more than average rate for test cricket for their innings of close to two days but when England bat and score at barely 2 runs an over it's the pitch's fault???

Posted by delboy on (March 7, 2008, 15:27 GMT)

Is'nt this the same pitch on which NZ batted, and appear to bowl better than England? Professionals MUST learn to adopt to their environment use the conditions with which they are faced and not rely on eveything being PERFECT. The true measure of greatness comes when one overcome obstacles mentally.

Contin'd..

The game of cricket offers 3 results: WIN, DRAW or LOSE. This game almost certainly will end in a draw. The loser will be the team (management included) which fail to learn from it. Did we get the balance of the team right, and a number of other what ifs? will need to feature.

The word TEST should not be taken lightly!

Posted by LKKingmaker on (March 7, 2008, 8:52 GMT)

Sorry David.. its not the pitch. but england batsman's quality that was poor.. They dont know how to play.. look how well vettori and taylor played.. wat abt mccullum.. then why kevin peterson was not able to play. dont blame the pitch

Posted by tezwah on (March 7, 2008, 7:06 GMT)

yeah for a team ranked well above nz,they didnt show much positive intent,even k.p.,when he did advance he blocked and it was his down fall,the pitch isnt great but if you let any side bowl nearly 50 maidens youd think it was a mine field,not the case when there is 470 in front of them,nz on the other hand looked sharp,after being thumped 2-0 by the proteas and a warm up against bangaldesh youd be mistaken for thinking england are the ones who have only played 4 tests in 2 years. it sure is the ghosts of old for the poms,but one thinks they only need to get there bowling right and all will be revealed with nz and there top order,harmy ,hoggard really looked like a couple of fat cats that have been lying in the sun,broad has to get a run next test as does anderson,arratic as he is at least he has some fire in his belly,if ehgland takes this slow aaproach tommorow ,the barmy army better learn a new charnt for the next 2 tests,im thinking boooorrrrring

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