Jones century leads the way for England
New Zealand 409 and 102 for 5 trail England 526 (Trescothick 132, Jones 100, Flintoff 94, Strauss 62) by 15 runs
A maiden Test century from Geraint Jones, along with five wickets later on, put England firmly in control of the second Test at Headingley. At the close of an action-packed fourth day, Jones and Andrew Flintoff helped their side to a dominating 526 before New Zealand spiralled to 102 for 5 to give England a chance of victory tomorrow.
England had the momentum all the way from Flintoff and Graham Thorpe's stand in the morning, Jones's century in the afternoon, and then those five wickets in the evening. For New Zealand, on the other hand, it was the worst day of their tour so far. They were dispirited in the field, blown away with the bat, and when you add to that a hamstring injury to Daniel Vettori, it was one to forget.
The stand between Flintoff and Jones set the tone for the day. They came together just before lunch, and blasted England into a first-innings lead. They stepped on the accelerator with a battery of boundaries to rock the New Zealand attack. This was the third partnership of over 50, and the second over 100, between Flintoff and Jones, who are beginning to form an effective double act down the order.
Jones cracked nine fours and a six on the way to his half-century. In that time, he twice lifted Chris Martin down to third man, and pulled Scott Styris for his fifth four. The boundaries just kept on coming as Jones took advantage of the continual short and wide bowling. He did have a life when, at 30, he attempted to cut another loose ball from Chris Cairns, but Brendon McCullum failed to hold on to the edge diving high to his right.
Jones then cut Cairns to the fence to give England the lead, and, in the next over, he rocked back to smash Vettori through the covers. Two balls later Jones signalled his fifty by lifting Vettori over long-on and into the stands for six. Even though Flintoff was out shortly before tea, Jones continued unfazed as he carried on crunching the bad balls to the fence. He caressed Martin on the up for his 12th four, which also brought up the team's 500, and an elegant cover-drive against Styris took him into the nineties.
After a nervy tea break on 91, Jones pulled Daryl Tuffey to go to 99, and then pushed him into the off side for the magical moment. Dancing down the track, he punched the air twice as the England balcony rose to acknowledge what an important innings it was. However, the crowd were soon on their feet again when Jones's sparkling innings came to an end. He cut another short one from Cairns, but this time he hit it straight to Stephen Fleming at point to be out for a round 100 (526 for 8).
Flintoff, meanwhile, was his usual positive self from the off. He raced to his half-century, thumping Martin and Styris for five quick fours. Fleming took the new ball midway through the morning session, but that didn't bother Flintoff. He pulled Martin into the Western Terrace for six, and signalled his eighth Test half-century by clubbing him over mid-on too.
Vettori limped off the field with his hamstring injury midway through the afternoon, and everything was going wrong for New Zealand. Flintoff moved effortlessly along and he guided Styris past mid-on to take himself to 94, but then again the brain went at the crucial moment. He wanted to bring up the hundred with another big shot, but next delivery he miscued an off-drive and chipped the ball to Martin at mid-off six short of what would have been a deserved ton (457 for 6).
Thorpe was the man who initially got England going. He was happy to play the supporting role as Flintoff took centre stage. He hit five fours, including a pearling drive through the covers off Cairns, but Martin temporarily lifted New Zealand's low spirits with his wicket shortly before lunch. Martin fired in a swinging yorker which Thorpe was late to get down on, and he was clean bowled for 34 (339 for 5).
Ashley Giles gave Jones good support after Flintoff went. He cracked four quick boundaries in his 21 before edging Martin to Fleming at first slip (491 for 7). However, New Zealand's celebrations - or lack of them - told their own story. Once Jones was out, however, the last two wickets failed to collect any runs. Martin Saggers clipped a Cairns slower ball to Shane Bond, the substitute fielder, at mid-off (526 for 9), and then Matthew Hoggard edged Tuffey behind to McCullum for 4.
New Zealand trailed by 117 runs, and Mark Richardson and Fleming made watchful progress in their second innings on a pitch which showed increasing signs of misbehaving. Both batsmen made solid starts, but their resistance came to an end when Fleming, opening in place of the injured Michael Papps, inside-edged Flintoff off his pad to Andrew Strauss at short leg (39 for 1).
Hoggard then produced a snorter to dismiss Richardson for a combative 40. The ball pitched short of a length and lifted sharply to take the edge through to Jones, who leapt as high as he could to take the catch (75 for 2). That was the vital injection England needed.
McCullum, who had earlier launched a few meaty blows, was snapped up by a wonder catch from Marcus Trescothick. McCullum edged Stephen Harmison low to first slip, where Trescothick miraculously plucked the ball out of the air with his right hand (77 for 3). Then Hoggard struck again, trapping Nathan Astle lbw for 8 with an offcutter which kept a fraction low (84 for 4). Tuffey, in as nightwatchman, was powerless as Harmison launched another ripper which he could only glove in the air towards Jones, who took his second catch (91 for 5).
Styris and Jacob Oram were left holding the wreckage together for New Zealand, but considering that both Vettori and Papps are unlikely to bat, the series could be all over early tomorrow.