A week in Manchester left me in no doubt as to which sport dominates in this country. The noise in the streets after Manchester United beat Chelsea in the Champions League final was so loud I couldn't sleep. There were literally thousands of people dressed in red, the like of which you'd never see in New Zealand. In contrast after England beat us in the second Test, the town was pretty quiet on Monday night.
That was little consolation for us, though. When you play poorly and get thrashed losses are easier to take, but we had got ourselves into a winning position and could not kick on. Monty Panesar bowled well in the second innings, and our bowlers couldn't match his effort.
It seemed a gutsy call for Michael Vaughan to go for the heavy roller prior to England's second innings. Looking back, it probably helped flatten out the wicket a bit, which did not help us. A combination of below-par bowling and a fielding effort not up to the standard we set ourselves meant we didn't apply enough pressure - on Andrew Strauss, especially. As a result England were able to score at three runs per over, which was quick in the context of this series.
Coming off the field on the losing side was bad enough; feeling like an icicle made me wonder whether they really do have a summer over here. It was seriously cold at Old Trafford, and windier than at Basin Reserve when those notorious northerlies blow, so having Iain O'Brien in the side was timely. He's a regular into-the-wind bowler for his province, Wellington, and did a brilliant job on his Test recall.
I've heard a few people question Daniel Flynn's decision to not bat again after that blow to the face caused him to lose two teeth. I was at the other end, and the view I had of his injury was pretty nasty. A player's health is the first priority, even in a game of this importance. That said, had we been batting last with victory in sight, Daniel probably would have batted.
The loss overshadowed my 154 in the first innings, which at the time was incredibly satisfying after it had all gone a bit pear-shaped at Lord's. My defence was much surer, there were no nerves this time, and as a result I was able to score freely when the right ball came along. The first 120 or so runs felt like they came in the traditional Test manner, while the last few were more IPL-like as I looked to clear the fence.
In a funny sort of way, Jamie How has benefited from the IPL more than most. Being our stand-in captain at the start of the tour while Dan Vettori was in India, Jamie was exempt from being allocated team duty. Somehow he's stayed under the radar and still has no job. Though with Peter Fulton battling to deliver an acceptable standard of music for the changing rooms, his role has Jamie's name written all over it.
|The loss overshadowed my 154 in the first innings, which at the time was incredibly satisfying after it had all gone a bit pear-shaped at Lord's. My defense was much surer, there were no nerves this time, and as a result I was able to score freely when the right ball came along|
Sure, Peter might not know what an iPod is or what music is cool these days, but some music would be better than nothing at all.
Musical tastes in the team are split. Jamie, Iain and Michael Mason are keen on bogan music (heavy metal and pub rock bands; they wear black t-shirts). Dan, Jacob Oram, Jeetan Patel and myself are into R&B. Being from Oxford in North Canterbury, Peter must have thought R&B meant Red and Black when he produced his rugby team's theme song.
I, too, need to get my act together after leaving the New Zealand flag in my room more than once. Still, it's time we were much tougher on duty evaders and the time for bigger fines must be near. In Peter's case, surely the words "you're fired", from The Apprentice are not far away.
Next up is a three-day game against Northamptonshire, which has probably come at a good time for us. It's an opportunity to get in some important practice away from the Test-match crowds. I'll probably go to the cinema this week, and I'm hoping the wait for a taxi will be shorter than the one hour people lined up for on the night of Ricky Hatton's fight in Manchester last Saturday. That was the longest queue I've ever seen.
New Zealand middle-order batsman Ross Taylor's diaries will appear on Cricinfo through the England series. Taylor spoke to Andrew McLean, an expatriate cricket writer based in London