New Zealand battle during follow on
New Zealand Under-19s 234 (Worker 72, Saxelby 4-47) and 102 for 2 trail England Under-19s 512 for 8 dec by 176 runs
New Zealand's Under-19 players are putting up a creditable fight for a draw in the first four-day match against their England counterparts in Taunton. Forced to follow on 278 runs in arrears, they finished the third day with eight wickets in hand, and with hope of surviving the final day, especially if the weather intervenes.
New Zealand's first objective of the day was to avoid the follow on, which would mean totalling a distant 362, at least. This would be dependent on the fortunes of their overnight pair, George Worker and Greg Morgan, who had fought through the previous evening. Unfortunately for the visitors, neither lasted long. Worker off-drove the third ball of the day for four but uncharacteristically lost concentration without further addition. He nibbled at a ball from Chris Woakes outside his off stump and edged a catch to the wicketkeeper. His 72 came off 175 balls.
Morgan continued to battle grimly, while the new man, Tamati Clarke, played pulls and drives. When he finally did attempt to drive, Morgan edged and was caught low at second slip by Daniel Redfern, the bowler being Luke Fletcher. He made 38 off 128 balls, a dogged but valuable rearguard action.
William Beer, turning the ball sharply at times, took two wickets off successive deliveries. He bowled Clarke with one that came in to the left-hander and then had Joseph Austin-Smellie caught off a faint edge to the keeper. New Zealand were down to 174 for 8. The last three batsmen were not to be overwhelmed, though, and a determined ninth-wicket partnership by two more left-handers, James Neesham and Nick Beard, took the score past 200 by lunch.
Neesham was eventually yorked by Ian Saxelby for 30, and another brilliant slip catch by Tom Westley off Saxelby ended the innings, Beard falling for 20. Last man Anurag Verma was unbeaten with 12. Saxelby finished with the best figures of 4 for 47, while Woakes had impressive figures of 3 for 30 off 21 overs.
New Zealand, 278 behind, were required to follow on. The odds were against their survival for a draw, given their lack of experience, but then South Africa had been in the same position in the Lord's Test and New Zealand were determined to go down fighting - or, even better, not go down at all. It did not make for exciting cricket, although the England team got quite excited at times about decisions that didn't go their way but it was their only dignified route.
Dean Robinson and Worker, the opening pair, duly dug in. They survived to put on 50 before Robinson was trapped lbw by Liam Dawson in the 27th over. With 13 off 83 balls to his credit, New Zealand may well be looking for him as a successor to Mark Richardson! Only two runs later, Worker followed him, caught and bowled by Beer for 33 although the batsman seemed to think it was a bump ball. England were now on the attack again with two new batsmen at the crease.
By this time the weather appeared less certain, with heavy rain on the distant hills, although the sun continued to dominate in the town of Taunton. Harry Boam was dropped off a relatively simple return catch when on 1, the bowler Beer aghast at his error. By the close the overall run-rate was below two an over but New Zealand were posting a fine rearguard fightback.