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New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington, 1st day
David Lloyd: Ambrose showed real battling qualities
March 13, 2008
Another Test and another batting collapse for England, but young Tim Ambrose's counterattack saved the day
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Tim Ambrose pushed on and played really well square of the wicket © Getty Images
Andrew Miller: It's been another tough day's batting but Tim Ambrose is still hanging in there, having scored his second half-century of the series, and David Lloyd, he saved England's bacon in this game.

David Lloyd: Well, England played really well this morning, 79 without loss and then a clatter of wickets, and you would say for no apparent reason. There's some good bowling, there's some classy bowling, but I just feel England contributed to their own demise, five down is it the old familiar story and then Paul Collingwood and Ambrose got together. Ambrose, promising after his first Test match, scored a fifty, and came into this - and it was different. He got cracked on the head straight away, and then he got a fearful blow on his body, but he came through it. He showed real battling qualities. What I really liked about him innings, and I was imploring Collingwood to do the same, is the counterattack.

I got a bit of strife on Sky, and then I went into Sky New Zealand, and I said there's got to be a counterattack. If you get Australia in a situation like that, or say South Africa, then they will come back at you - [Mark] Boucher or [Adam] Gilchrist will come back at you. I said we were showing nothing and we are not going to subside and it was Ambrose who pushed it on. So I am really pleased for him and the way he played and the way his innings developed. The little wicketkeeper is going to play so well square of the wicket.

AM: Well, England promised the new intent in this match, and we must just rewind to the events before the game, and there were of course two big decisions for England. They dropped Steve Harmison and Mathew Hoggard. What did you make of that decision?

DL: We came to practice yesterday, and we watched Harmison race in and everybody looked at this pitch yesterday and they said this pitch is going to have some pace. That it's going to have some bounce and it is going to suit taller quicker bowlers. Then I watched England practice and there was Harmison doing everything, and I just thought they will play him again here. Then they dropped an absolute bombshell. If you analyse Matthew Hoggard's omission, I just wonder who has done the dropping. One of the selectors of this new regime, James Whittaker was here. Michael Vaughan said a couple of things, which gave a massive clue; he said that he wanted more energy in the team. Well, he got that with James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the team. Hoggard, after the first Test match, said that he was a game away from being match-fit.

I would have thought England would not like that at all; that the senior bowler is actually saying that he is not ready for the Test match. And I think that has really counted against him. Michael Vaughan said that this is the team that I want, and so they gave it to him.

AM: It looked so good, that first session, 79 without loss and England batted with sort of intensity that they lacked in that first innings in Hamilton.

DL: Yes, and being put in as well. I think it was a good toss to lose this morning. Vaughan said that he would have liked to bowl - 79 without loss, and not under too much pressure just seeing off the new ball, playing pretty well the pair of them, and they had no idea as to what is going to come just after lunch.

AM: The man who did it, Jacob Oram, has had an incredible series. He has conceded barely run an over in two matches and picked up four vital wickets. What is it about his bowling?

DL: Well, he is a handy batting allrounder. I will just tell you what his figures were at one stage - 14 overs, seven maidens, two wickets for eight runs. On commentary I said this bloke is just bowling `Hadleesque'. He is nothing like Richard Hadlee but he bowled nice tidy spell though not unplayable. If you want to know technically - England were playing way back in the crease, sort of half back and half forward to a 78-miles-an-hour bowler, and allowing the ball to develop, to pitch and to do a little bit of something. I think you just have to be a little bit proactive, get forward and bat out of your crease to nullify that touch of movement he was getting and also to challenge him to drop his length back, because he is still going to be only 78 miles per hour.

AM: Is that the sort of confidence that Vaughan was talking about after the last Test?

DL: Yes, and Vaughan has sort of said that. There has been lot of talk in the dressing room, some angry talk and frustration from all the players. What we talked about last time - there is chronic fear in the team, fear of failure. I think Ambrose, who is new to Test cricket, has shown what you can do with a clear mind.

Comments: 6 
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Posted by John on (March 13, 2008, 20:51 GMT)

A couple of swallows do not make a summer, but the early indications are that England has at last found a good 'keeper whose batting is technically sound and apparently has the right mental attitude. Coming in in a crisis at Wellington he did not curly up and allow the bowlers to dictate but struck back at them in a controlled manner, helped no doubt by the admirable Collingwood at the other end, who must have been a comforting rock for him to rely on as he took the bowlers on. I will go out on a limb and predict that barring injury he will be a pillar of the team for years to come, certainly batting higher than no. 7 before long.

Posted by ricky on (March 13, 2008, 20:16 GMT)

Hmm well i dont think we can jump to a conclusion such as that just yet. I might only be 15 and a wicketkeeper my self however i think he needs to play mor matches for englandd and realy fit into the role of a keeper/batsman. Hopefully by the time im 20-21 i will be playing for england as a batsman and mabe not keeper lets just see. However Ambrose needs caps under him andd letts see how sound his glovework realy is.

Posted by Steve on (March 13, 2008, 17:42 GMT)

Finally... WELL DONE England! A great conclusion to the final day thanks to Collingwood and Ambrose. The real 'middle order' once again disappoint and this is the real worry for England. The selectors have shown no mercy with the bowling attack - but seem to have infinite patience with out of form Batsmen? Strange. Whilst I would be the first to admit that KP is a potential match winner, his techniquue is so flawed that when he is out of form he's always going to struggle. It's time to leave him and his big ego out of the side and pray that he works hard and regains some form. Maybe Shah gets his chance? Anyhow, let's hope England finish the job and square the series. I will also be hoping that KP proves me wrong and produces a scintilating match winning ton in the second innings! That's assuming he will have to bat again.

Posted by sid on (March 13, 2008, 16:55 GMT)

lets not get ahead of ourselves, let him play few more test matches and then decide if he is a good batsman, or great batsman or an average. Lets not forget Matt Prior who scored century on his debut and was totted as next best thing that happened to england team, so lets wait and watch though Ambrose seems to be technically sound batsman.

Posted by EDWIN on (March 13, 2008, 13:37 GMT)

ambrose really looks so good in batting. but unless he is good in keeping the wickets he may well join the list of read ,jones ,prior.. hope he is good at keeping

Posted by B on (March 13, 2008, 12:20 GMT)

Mr Lloyd I maintain that until England goes back to making all its players regulars in county cricket and the teams picked from performance in county cricket England's performance will lack the competitive edge.I do not agree with the system that the English players are put on contract and the only time they play competitive cricket is when the represent England. And by the way WI cricket has a similar problem as it has suffered negatively from players not playing in English county cricket. Regards, Bernard Cools-Lartigue

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