Eng v NZ, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 3rd day May 26, 2013

New Zealand's self-inflicted pain

Steven Finn and Graeme Swann were very good on the third day, but were they as good as New Zealand made them look?

It's a stormy night. You're in a strange house. The power goes out. You're phone won't work. You hear a door open. Followed by footsteps. What do you do?

At Lord's New Zealand ran up the stairs.

England set them a target of 239. It was on paper a number you could chase. But in reality on a pitch where England had only one batsmen in their last seven who scored double figures, the chase was going to end for New Zealand in much the way it does for the thousands of young actresses who runs up the stairs.

Sixty-eight was a bloody way to end. But on a pitch with movement, the ball swinging, a fragile top order, a fired up Stuart Broad, an unplayable James Anderson and injuries, New Zealand could have almost been forgiven for not handling the pressure. It was bad, but bad with reasons.

On the third day at Headingley the reasons and excuses are harder to find.

The easiest is Graeme Swann. Swann drifted the ball away, landed it in footmarks, and made batsmen look stupid. Yet noted ferret Trent Boult managed to hump him around the field. In fact, the whole bottom order seemed to handle Swann far better than any of the so called batting experts. It takes a skilful offspinner to rip the ball through bat and pad. But no offspinner in the world can manufacture the gap in the first place.

Before lunch Headingley was cloudless. The sun was shining about as much as the Yorkshire Gods will allow. The pitch was coming on beautifully. The outfield was not slow. Anderson couldn't get anything to happen. Broad's performance was very sub Lord's.

It was as if New Zealand had ordered the conditions for themselves.

Hamish Rutherford was picking which part of the offside boundary he wanted to hit. Peter Fulton was flicking the ball easily with his awkward tall-guy style. New Zealand skipped to a 50-run opening partnership without any real concerns. They even shut up the West Stand.

It was such a good start that it meant some people started wondering if England would even have a first innings lead.

Then on this clear day, out by the beach with friends, with good mobile phone coverage, and no one else around, New Zealand found a way to still end up dead.

Fulton, who had been waiting for full balls to flick away, seemed to completely misread the length of a Steven Finn delivery, and flicked it off a leading edge straight up in the air.

Rutherford who looked like he could boss England on a pitch this flat, was super-bossed by Finn. Rutherford was beaten for three successive balls, and then still decided to try a no-footwork drive on the up to the second last ball before lunch.

Their opening partnership was 55. Their last wicket partnership was 53. They made 174. Something is desperately wrong with these numbers

Finn hit Ross Taylor first ball. And then a few overs later cramped him up and hit his stumps.

Dean Brownlie and Martin Guptill left Swann-sized gaps in their defence, Guptill providing a passable impression of Robocop playing a forward defence. Kane Williamson over compensated. Once that had happened, New Zealand had been killed by an axe wielding maniac in their own mind.

Their opening partnership was 55. Their last wicket partnership was 53. They made 174. Something is desperately wrong with these numbers. And while a fired-up Finn and a suped-up Swann were good, they don't explain or excuse how only 174 was scored.

With one less day in this match, the follow-on target moved 50 runs further from New Zealand, which did them no favours.

New Zealand deserved no favours. Considering how well New Zealand have fought for the majority of this cross-continental five-Test series, they would be embarrassed at how they played with so much in their favour.

It was only England who seemed to help New Zealand. If you didn't know Alastair Cook or Andy Flower, you'd assume the decision to not enforce the follow-on was a pity move, and not a professionally thought out conservative decision based on the matches to follow.

At 116 for 1, England they showed that this pitch, and the conditions in general couldn't be much better for batting. They also forced New Zealand's overworked bowlers into the ground. Boult went off with a side strain. Doug Bracewell came on as third change and only bowled six overs. Tim Southee looked like a man who wanted the follow-on to be enforced.

They couldn't even rely on the demon footmark that Swann had used, as Williamson could hit it, and get some spin, but Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott dead-batted everything that was dangerous with the sort of techniques that New Zealand only dreamed for. At the other end Cook showed it was also easy to score. Not that England needed to show New Zealand that, they'd proved it themselves.

Boult will be getting more treatment tomorrow. He probably won't bowl again in this match. But with an unbeaten 24 and a five-wicket haul, he's already done more than most of his team-mates. Much like New Zealand's chances, not much can improve by him playing tomorrow.

Just more pain. And they've inflicted enough on themselves.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Robert on May 27, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    The problem seems basically to be in footwork, which the NZ batsmen either have forgotten, or never learned. Any batsman's first job is to get to the pitch of the ball ('Play right out or right back, don't dither' as my old club captain used to tell me). You can still be diddled by a class ball, but at least you'll be done for sensible reasons (ie, it was too good for me). We've seen far too much flat-footed prodding and hopeful wafting. I don't know if the modern emphasis on short forms of cricket is the root of this problem (I suspect it has a lot to do with it) but batsmen need to remember the basics of their craft: watch the ball from the hand, move to the pitch, then see what you can do with it. Joe Root's innings was a consummate rehearsal of this time-tried truth (and note, the first time he let the ball dictate his shot, he was out).

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2013, 8:07 GMT

    Very enjoyable article, but please, as a man who earns a living through his writing, can't you control your apostrophes? 'You're phone won't work' just isn't right!

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2013, 7:27 GMT

    The next New Zealand test side should consist of the following players: Rutherford, Latham, Williamson, Taylor, Ryder, McCullum, Watling, Vettori, Southee, Bracewell, Boult

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2013, 7:07 GMT

    JK, you're a legend! I loved reading every bit of this article.......its so well written! It says everything that needs to be said in such an interesting way!

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    I never had much time for Bob Carter as a Batting Coach. He couldn't coach a forward defensive shot into me lol

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2013, 5:36 GMT

    New Zealands problem is obviously their batting. Two batsmen of international class (KW, Taylor) with the rest more or less out of their depths. Guptill not good enough either as opeener or in the middle order. Same can be said about Brownlie. Rutherford should be given an extended run. Fulton finds silly ways to get out. How about getting Ryder in there? Can´t see that NZ can afford not to. The board should take responsibility and just make it happen for crickets sake.

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2013, 3:51 GMT

    Beyond anything, you have to feel a little sorry for McCullum. He deserved an opportunity to rest his back, but alas, not only did he have to bat far too soon, he is now already back in the field. New Zealand's batting has been woefully poor. Again. Odd that some commentators felt that the addition of Guptill might strengthen the batting, Watling has been far more consistant, and with arguably better resilience. Should have brought Ronchi in...

  • Matt on May 27, 2013, 3:07 GMT

    A 50 run partnership for the 10th wicket says it all another failed batting performance. Yet again the good work of our bowlers is undone in the space of 1 session. Our batting is going nowhere, we are struggling to bat 50 overs, why has the batting coach not been sacked???

    Guptil's dismissal sums up New Zealand's batting disaster over recent months. A good looking forward defence shot against a turning ball with a large gap between bat and pad to be comprehensively clean bowl. He looked up at the pitch and then back at the sumps in disbelief that he had be castled so easily. He failed to note that you could have driven a bus between bat and pad. The majority of the NZ batsmen have failed techniques and are not learning from their mistakes.

    These guys are so arrogant to the 'basics' when batting. If they studied the best test batsmen at the moment Hashim Amla, he showed everyone how to neutralise and dominate Swan, by taking an off stump guard and playing off the back foot. Or Drav

  • Fraser on May 26, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    whoever dreams of Compton's technique need only give up hope of being a international class player.

  • No featured comments at the moment.