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The plays of the day from the Twenty20 between England and New Zealand at Old Trafford
June 13, 2008
Over of the day
Confidence is coursing through James Anderson's veins at present, so much so that he hasn't even noticed he's switched formats yet. In February he was marmalised by Brendon McCullum during the one-dayers in New Zealand, yet today he bowled with the same pace and late swing that made him England's leading wicket-taker in the Tests. He removed Jamie How with his first ball, but his most significant feat was his maiden Twenty20 maiden. For six unsloggable balls in a row, he kept McCullum pinned to the crease, and even planted a bouncer on his helmet for good measure.
Anticlimax of the day
Believe it or not, McCullum is used to slow starts in Twenty20 cricket. Even at Bangalore during his legendary IPL curtain-raiser, he saw off six dot balls before belting five fours and three sixes in his next ten legitimate deliveries. This time, however, he never really exited first gear. He scored his first run from his ninth delivery, and his first boundary from his 18th. And though he wafted a six over midwicket in Luke Wright's third over, Wright did for him two balls later with deceptively flighted yorker.
Innings of the day
In the Tests, Ian Bell couldn't buy a run, but today he was unstoppable. In just 33 balls he hurtled past his four-innings Test tally of 45 runs, and with a perfect straight drive off Mark Gillespie, he eased to a 39-ball half-century - his third in Twenty20s. In all he cracked nine fours and a six over long-on off Michael Mason, and was - by a distance - the classiest and most composed strokemaker on display. Doubtless it helped that New Zealand's target was so paltry, but if he could bat with this self-assurance every time he comes to the crease, England would have a world-beating batsman on their hands.
Ball of the day
If the rumours are to be believed, Paul Collingwood's shoulder is hanging by its final fibres, and his batting form - to judge by his Test return of 30 runs in four innings - has never been more off the boil. And yet, when it comes to his England place he is like a dog with a £500,000 bone. On Wednesday he produced his best Twenty20 bowling figures of 5 for 14 to help Durham beat Derbyshire, and today he produced the best ball of the match, a 75mph offcutter that fizzed through the gate to bowl the in-form Ross Taylor for 25.
Drop of the day 1
Not everything that Collingwood touched turned to nuggets of gold, however. Graeme Swann, coming round the wicket, would have been on a hat-trick had his captain clung onto the sharp edge that flew his way as Daniel Flynn drove at his first delivery and squirted to slip. Instead the opportunity was parried, and Flynn went on to produce one of New Zealand's better cameos - 22 from 18 balls. Still, best to get the drops out of the way now, rather than save them up for November.
Drop of the day 2
Yesterday Michael Vaughan rather dented his Stanford prospects with a second-ball duck against Derbyshire, but then he wasn't exactly in the frame in the first place. Imagine that match taking place without Kevin Pietersen, however? From the way he started his innings, you'd have thought he was a fringe player with a gambling debt to pay off, as he prodded and poked at a series of hand-grenades from Daniel Vettori. In fact, he should have fallen for a fourth-ball duck, when he played all around a looping leg-stump delivery and chipped a leading edge back towards the bowler. Vettori leapt, but couldn't close his fingers round the chance, and Pietersen lived to argue his case for selection.
Rock classic of the day
New Zealand have been dressed in whites for six Tests and a host of warm-up games, and - for some - there's also been a multi-coloured sojourn in the IPL. But today, they reverted to their favourite colours for their new favourite form of the game. And, to mark the occasion, the dressing-room DJ cleverly decided their theme tune for the day should be AC/DC's axe-widdling classic, Back in Black. Unfortunately it proved a tad too popular with the visitors - it ended up being played on ten occasions in all, once at the start and again at each fall of wicket.
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