England U-19s v New Zealand U-19s, 1st Test, Taunton, 2nd day July 27, 2008

England take control after run spree

John Ward at Taunton

New Zealand Under-19s 111 for 4 (Worker 68*, Morgan 27*) trail England Under-19s 512 for 8 dec (Smith 157, Redfern 151, Dawson 100) by 401 runs

There must be something about the late afternoon sun at Taunton that encourages batsmen. On the first day there was the monumental English partnership; on the second New Zealand Under-19s, having gone into tea on the eve of destruction, managed to go through the final session without losing a wicket, although still very much behind in the match. They owed their fightback to the superb resilience of their captain George Worker and all-rounder Greg Morgan, who put on 79 together without being parted. All is not lost yet.

The day belonged to England from the beginning, and even at the end, though defied, they still held an overwhelming advantage. Firstly there was the matter of building on the large edifice of the first day, and eight runs off the first over of the day showed what England's approach would be. The matter of England's largest ever Under-19 partnership, previously 266 against West Indies in 1993, was soon taken care of, and the two players responsible, Daniel Redfern and Greg Smith, took their stand to 287 before they were parted.

It was finally ended, as some would say in the only possible way, by a run-out. The batsmen hesitated over a single from a drive by Redfern into the covers, and a superb direct hit at the bowler's end from Tanati Clarke had him just short, dismissed for 151.

The New Zealanders were jubilant at their belated success, but the mood did not last: soon even new batsman Liam Dawson found himself batting without a slip behind him. Smith pierced the packed off-side field to bring up his 150 with a four, and was eventually dismissed for 157, lofting a ball from Harry Boam to the midwicket boundary.

Dawson, after playing himself in sensibly, soon began to do his job of hammering the tired bowlers, paying special attention to the left-arm spinner Nick Beard, who had so stemmed the run flow on the first day. He hit him for two sixes, the first straight over the sightscreen, the second over wide mid-on to bring up his 50 off 47 balls. He was 76 at lunch, having lost Ben Brown for 3, dragging a ball from James Neesham outside the off stump on to his wicket.

Dawson had no problems approaching his century, continuing to play bold strokes through the eighties and nineties, and reaching his century off 94 balls. It was by some way the fastest of the three hundreds during the innings, but there was much less pressure on him after that major partnership. He lost Chris Woakes, stumped immediately after hitting a six off Worker in his aggressive 40, and then it took a brilliant full-length catch at wide long-on by Morgan to end Dawson's innings for exactly 100. At this point, 512 for 8, England declared, their ninth-best U-19 total.

All the bowlers struggled, with Neesham alone taking two wickets, though he tended to be erratic. Beard's early economical figures were later swamped as the batsmen worked out how to play him and he lost confidence, finishing with 1 for 122 in 38.3 overs, a hard learning curve.

Worse was to follow for the tourists, as England's seam bowlers tore through their top order. Four wickets fell for 32, all to lbw decisions that looked there or thereabouts, to batsmen moving across thr stumps and being beaten by bowlers - namely Woakes and Ian Saxelby - who were able to move the ball in off the pitch, with umpire Peter Hartley the executioner each time. Saxelby took two in his first over, just before tea, when the innings had reached its nadir of 33 for 4.

Standing amidst the ruins was the captain, Worker, who had borne his responsibilities manfully as the leader and occasionally with the ball, and now refused to yield with the bat. Every now and then he would break forth with a good boundary, and in the final session he at last found a partner able to stay with him in Morgan, who is an intense cricketer. Morgan applied every degree of concentration he had to support his captain, and gradually they settled in.

Worker reached his 50 off 134 balls, defying the English seamers with an older (although changed) ball and the leg-breaks of Will Beer, which turned sharply at times. They live to fight another day, but New Zealand still have a very long uphill struggle ahead of them.