England v NZ, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 4th day May 27, 2013

Swann leaves New Zealand on brink of defeat


New Zealand 174 and 158 for 6 (Taylor 70, Swann 4-61) require another 310 runs to beat England 354 and 249 for 3 (Cook 130, Trott 76)
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

England will nervously draw back the curtains in their hotel rooms on day five in Leeds. Having earned themselves a dominant position against New Zealand they will feel only rain can thwart them as they look to clinch a 2-0 series victory.

For that reason there was, perhaps, a perverse pleasure for New Zealand as England extended their second innings beyond lunch on the fourth day. While New Zealand could have few realistic hopes of surpassing England's target - they would have to set a new world record to do so and on a pitch offering turn and variable bounce to the bowlers - the tactic did perhaps present New Zealand with enhanced prospects of a draw.

With rain forecast to curtail the final day of the Test, New Zealand may not need to survive three full sessions on the final day. So, as England plundered their bowling on the fourth day, New Zealand could, at least, take comfort in the thought that every ball they were forced to remain out in the field was a ball less they were required to survive with the bat.

England's tactics have taken some criticism. Some say they should have enforced the follow-on, some say they should have batted with greater urgency on the third evening and some say that, with an eye on the weather forecast, they should have declared far earlier. Having earned such a vast lead, the decision not to have attacking fields - there were three men on the boundary at times - was also puzzling.

But the fact is that had bad light not brought an early close on day four - and at a ground with floodlights play may well have continued - they might have won this game in three days (the first day was lost to rain). For many years, England supporters would have been delighted with such a scenario. It perhaps speaks volumes for the progress they have made that more is now demanded.

Bearing in mind New Zealand had only scored 449 runs in the series for the loss of 30 wickets, it did seem an abundantly cautious tactic. No side has ever made more than 418 to win a Test in the fourth innings and only four teams have ever made more than 400 to win in the fourth innings. New Zealand's highest chase is 324, made against Pakistan in Christchurch in 1994. Perhaps, however, England also had an eye on exhausting the New Zealand attack ahead of the ODI series that beings later this week.

If New Zealand are saved by the weather on day five, they will also owe thanks to Ross Taylor who produced a fine counterattacking innings to shore up his side just as it appeared they might suffer a familiar collapse and the game could end a day early. Demonstrating an application and technique that his team-mates would do well to emulate, Taylor cut and drove well and, by playing deep in his crease or using his reach to stretch a long way forward, negated Graeme Swann for much of the afternoon.

He had some nervous moments. Not only did he take a thumping blow to the arm off the hostile bowling of Steven Finn, but he was given out by umpire Steve Davis on 60, caught behind off Swann by one that went on with the arm. The decision was subsequently overturned on appeal with replays showing the bat had brushed only the pad.

Taylor apart, though, New Zealand struggled once again. Peter Fulton's miserable series - 36 runs at an average of 9.00 - ended when a delivery from Stuart Broad reared from just back of a good length, took the shoulder of the bat and looped to gully and, later, Dean Brownlie's stubborn innings was ended by a brute of a bouncer from Finn that followed the batsman and took his glove as he sought to protect his face. It was a delivery of which Curtly Ambrose would have been proud.

In between Finn's wickets, Swann struck twice. In his second over, Kane Williamson, moving right across his stumps in an attempt to get outside the line, was beaten by some sharp turn and given out leg before by Davis. Williamson called for a review but replays suggested the ball had hit him in line and would have just clipped the top of leg stump.

Hamish Rutherford impressed for a while. He drove a couple of sweetly-timed fours off Broad - first off front and then back foot - before punching one back past Finn and then flicking Swann through midwicket for another four. But in attempting to play one that slid on with the arm, Rutherford was caught at short-leg via an inside edge and his pad by the alert Joe Root.

Later, Swann had Martin Guptill edging one that did not turn, caught at slip off the outside edge, before Taylor's fine innings was ended by a full delivery that may well have deceived the batsman in the flight, beat his drive, turned and hit the stumps. Swann became the first spinner to take eight wickets in a Headingley Test since Derek Underwood did so in 1972.

Earlier England sentenced New Zealand to a morning of misery as they increased their lead well beyond 400. Upping the tempo noticeably after a ponderous end to the third day, England scored 133 runs in 29 overs (4.59 runs an over) in the session taking full toll of a New Zealand attack lacking the injured Trent Boult.

Alastair Cook, who resumed on his overnight score of 88, soon completed his 25th Test century and seventh in 11 Tests as captain. Fluent on the drive, quick to cut and merciless off his legs, Cook added 134 in 41 overs with Jonathan Trott. No England player has scored more Test centuries than Cook and only Graham Gooch, with 11 in 34 Tests, Peter May, with 10 in 41, Andrew Strauss and Michael Vaughan, with nine each in 50 and 51 Tests respectively, and Mike Atherton, with eight in 54, have scored more as captain.

Trott's acceleration was more noticeable. It had taken him 69 deliveries to score his first 11 runs on day three, but on the fourth morning he allowed himself to take more risks and was dropped on 40 when reverse-sweeping Kane Williamson. Later he whipped Tim Southee through midwicket and reverse-swept another four off the part-time spin of Martin Guptill. In all Trott scored 65 runs from 93 balls in the session but fell second ball after lunch chasing a wide one. By the time he was out, he had become the highest run scorer in Test cricket in 2013 to date.

Cook eventually fell as he attempted to hit the off-spin of Williamson over the top, while Ian Bell fell in similarly selfless fashion as he mis-hit a slog-sweep. But it hardly mattered. Joe Root produced an outrageous reverse-sweep off the pace of Wagner that flew to the boundary and hit three fours in his first 13 balls before falling in the race to set-up the declaration.

There was further good news for England on day four as Kevin Pietersen returned to the nets, beginning his comeback from a knee injury.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JG2704 on May 28, 2013, 13:49 GMT

    @Landl ctd - Yes the approach worked well in Ashes 2010/11 but I believe we were freer scoring then. Also I have listed an example from that series - I think it was the 2nd test - where we batted on too long and only just bowled Aus out about an hour before the weather came down having built an unnecessarily large 370 1st inns lead. Do you honestly think there's the slightest chance NZ would have won from being 180 behind compared to the chance of rain washing out day 5? Do you think they'd even be worrying about day 5 had NZ followed on?

  • JG2704 on May 28, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    @landl - My point re plan B is generalistic to England and not re this test - maybe look at the shambles in UAE for evidence. I don't think Smith is the most proactive captain either but to me the difference is that SA don't lose. But I still think Smith,Clarke or basically pretty much any captain - with rain forecast for most of day 4 would take that into consideration when making a decision.

    A - Re batting again B - Re the pace of the inns and when to declare

    I have not posted anything about winning in 3 days although I suppose it would be technically 3 days. My point about winning by the end of Monday is because of the threat of weather on Tuesday which could easily have wiped the whole day out

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on May 28, 2013, 12:38 GMT

    The only thing heading for Headingly now is more rain, a draw that should not have been, and very red faces for Cook and Flower et al. The excuses for England's tactics are pouring out everywhere now, and I doubt Cook and co. will EVER admit they got it wrong.

    I do not expect England to blast their way through opponents in 3 days; I do not wish for England to come out and over-use short-format tactics in tests. What I wish for is England man-up when they are ahead, and consider the weather for a change. How were the England bowlers tired and in need of a rest? If they were, they are in the wrong job! Why did Cook and Trott need more batting practise? If my maths is correct, 1-0 up in a two match series = unassailable. 20 wickets wins a test - the bowlers need the practice! Every game must be played on merit, not to a boring script.

  • YorkshirePudding on May 28, 2013, 11:52 GMT

    @Biggus, I think thats a pretty fair appraisal, I did hear that Hughes was being considered for first drop.

    I think Cowan and Warner as openers are pretty good foils for each other, and Aus need to find a solid first drop (Trott type) to cover for when Warner doesnt 'fire', on the bolwing side, you have Stac, Cummins, Patterson, that if they stay fit with Siddle as the senior will cause problems.

    Lyon I thik is underrated by many, it will be interesting to see how hes come on, and if he watches where swann pitches the ball should get a good idea of lengths to bowl in the UK.

    All in all its set for a good 6-7 months of cricket from the end of July.

  • jmcilhinney on May 28, 2013, 11:05 GMT

    @landl47 on (May 28, 2013, 10:30 GMT), I'm certainly not complaining about England not winning in 3 days. I'm complaining about the fact that They didn't maximise their chances of winning in as little time as possible, knowing that there was a strong possibility that significant time would be lost to rain. As has been said before, if England were confident that their bowlers could clean up NZ even if time was lost then why would they also think that they needed so many runs? The whole thing just doesn't make sense unless, as has been suggested, they have chosen to ignore the weather forecast, but ignoring the weather forecast is also pretty stupid. it may work out but that's relying on luck when you could rely on your own skill.

  • 200ondebut on May 28, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    I think England have got this wrong. By close yesterday there had been 130 overs bowled since NZ were all out - more than enough to bowl then out again (6 wks in 54 overs!!!) and chase down whatever target was set. I don't buy into the 4th innings chase or weather argument - and feel sorry for Trotty who was sent out to deliver this message to the press. I am not sure who in the camp thinks they, like Canute, can control mother nature. I hope for their sake that the weather holds off long enough to get the last four wickets.

  • JG2704 on May 28, 2013, 10:44 GMT

    @TheGreatestGame (wherever you are or any other stats expert) - I wonder if you'd be so kind to go through games from the last few decades and list matches in which the side who enforces the follow on goes on to lose the match and also the side who does not choose enforce the follow on does not go on to win the match and we can all weigh up the pros and cons...

  • kiwicricketnut on May 28, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    Even if the rain saves us here, it is not a draw in my opinion, there was only ever one result in this game, unlike the test in auckland where england deserved the draw through sheer guts and determination, we on the other hand don't deserve draw written down in the history books. No nz cricket fan should get any satisfaction from this game being drawn if the rain remains. As much as they have tried to avoid it, change of personal is now the only option, this type of performance can't be tollerated

  • JG2704 on May 28, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    @Landl47 ctd - To me , not making a side follow on and going on to win a game does not show that it's the formula that's working. It just says that a team with a huge 1st inns lead (weather permitting) usually wins and that's just logical. There have been 2 examples in recent months (which I've posted) in which I've seen the dominant side not forcing a follow on and not getting the win. Please name me some recent examples of a side enforcing the follow on going on to lose the match? I'm not a stats man from all ages myself and have not followed cricket as studiously as I do now all my life but in over 30 years of following cricket (often more casually) I don't remember a game (besides Headingly 1981) in which England have been involved in which either side has enforced the follow on and actually lost the game.

  • Biggus on May 28, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding-I think we have plenty of bowling as long as long as they can stay on the park. Lyon perplexes me though and can tend to get somewhat mechanical at times, but he's not nearly as bad as some would have it. Our batting however gives me nightmares, particularly the opening spots. I like Ed Cowan, he's a real tryer and at least tries to do his job and take some shine off the ball but all too often doesn't go on and make a big score. The idea of Watson or Warner opening on a seaming pitch gives me the yips I'm afraid. Rogers is a good move (I hope), and Clarke is a fine player but he's no superman, and can't save us all the time. I find it all too likely that we'll be knocked over cheaply a few times and our bowlers will have too little to work with. In contrast you our's your batting looks pretty solid. One can only live in hope eh?