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New Zealand v England, 3rd Test, Napier, 1st day
David Lloyd: England's batsmen were brain-dead
March 22, 2008
England's batsmen, barring Kevin Pietersen, squandered the advantage of batting first on a good pitch
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Andrew Miller: Today England saw an opportunity to go for the jugular, and completely muffed it. David, if it wasn't for Kevin Pietersen's magnificent innings then they would have been in an even bigger hole now.

David Lloyd: Well, that innings puts the pitch and the game in perspective - England win the toss and bat first, thank you very much. Daniel Vettori, in the same interview at the toss, said that he wants to bat first; well you can't, you've got to bowl first. He had got this rookie attack - Grant Elliot playing his first game and Tim Southee, the under-19 sensation, playing his first game. Energy to the team has paid great dividends. They pitched the ball up, they swung the ball and England were 3 for 4 at one stage, and they have crawled and crept for 240 for 7. But, in between Pietersen has scored 129. It wasn't vintage Kevin Pietersen but he is getting there.

It [Pietersen's innings] just shows that it is a cracking batting surface, and England have somehow managed to get themselves out rather than being bowled out. I would say that Vaughan was got out, but good disciplined bowling can pay dividends if the batsmen are a bit brain-dead, and that's what England were, they were just not thinking about the basics - get rid of the new ball, get used to the pace and the bounce of the pitch, get used to the light and so on, and then kick on from there. You kick on from there in your mid session and evening session if you are one or two down at lunch time but England disregarded that completely. There were some really silly shots played and Pietersen pulled things around with a terrific 129, and at the back-end Stuart Broad is on 42 not out - that's telling you all about this pitch.

AM: Well, let's talk about Tim Southee, the man of the moment, because he is 19 years old, playing his first match; he had a magnificent under-19 World Cup recently, but even so you wouldn't have thought that a 19-year-old will do that to England's top order.

DL: No, he has got a rock solid action. He is tall, and there is a bit of rivalry between him and Stuart Broad, and that is exciting to see. Very exciting for New Zealand cricket [because of] the defections that they have had, the people who are retiring, and a youngster comes up - they always do. He has got a very good action and his pace today surprised me, 85-86 miles per hour at 19. Well, you don't have to be rapid if you are accurate, but he is just telling you that he going to put a few more miles per hour to his bowling and get up to 90. And, if he bowls accurately like that then they have got a star. He bowled really well.

AM: He couldn't have asked for a better start. He got Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss, who played alongside him at Northern districts. He must have felt pretty content after that kind of start.

DL: Yes, and as they would say, he examined England. Pitched the ball up - I looked at the pitch map, which is invaluable. It's full, get it up there full. England's batsmen all sort of creep forward, they go half forward or they first step back and then half forward. New Zealand have an honest and workman-like attack and I think they are very well led. I think they look at the strengths and weaknesses of the batsmen, in this case England's batsmen, and bowl full length, off stump, and England did the rest.

AM: Let's have a look at Kevin Pietersen's innings now, he has been in a little bit of trough: he had about 10 innings without even a half-century, and he turned it around in quite some style today.

DL: Yes, it was not vintage Pietersen but it was good to watch, it always is. If he gets a century then it's going to be good cricket. You could tell by the way he celebrated when he got to hundred. He usually goes off on a monty - he really celebrates for everyone on the ground and his wife who was here today and so on. But he was very subdued and I think that was the general frustration that no other England batsmen showed up on this pitch. If he could score a 120 like that then you would think that somebody else would also get a massive score. He was subdued and I think he was a little bit angry. He said in an interview at the end of the day - you never keep him out of limelight for too long - that somebody is going to cop it, these batters are not just firing at the minute but somebody will cop it. He even kicked ahead - and I am not saying that he disregarded New Zealand coming to UK - but he said South Africa will get it in the second half of the English summer. He said these six batsmen are going to be there, but it remains to be seen whether these six batsmen will be there.

AM: So the match situation at the end of the first day - do you think that England have done enough to stay in the game?

DL: No, nothing like and it needs a special bowling performance. I am sure that New Zealand will look at this pitch and think that there are lots of runs in this. The silver lining for England is that they must feel that they can get into this [New Zealand] batting line-up but it will need something special [from] James Anderson, Stuart Broad or Ryan Sidebottom once again.

AM: Well there we go - England are up against it on the first day but there are still four days to go. You've been listening to Cricinfo Talk.

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Posted by srikarun on (March 22, 2008, 13:28 GMT)

Good to see Kevin back among the runs. But its getting really silly, the way the England batsmen keep on taking about someone having to cop it all up. They would do well to bat now instead of harping on the fact that they would some day bat extraordinarily well. If the application of the English batsmen on a batsmen-friendly track is so pathetic, it's hard to believe that they will take the attack to a far more threatening attack.

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