New Zealand v England, 1st Test, Dunedin, 5th day March 10, 2013

Cook relieved to have salvaged draw


Relief was the overriding emotion for Alastair Cook after England salvaged a draw in Dunedin despite one the worst starts they have made to a Test in recent times and he admitted to being no nearer to an answer on why the team starts so poorly overseas.

Led by Steven Finn's unexpected resistance as nightwatchman - he batted 203 balls in nearly five hours - England negotiated the final day with only a few uncertain moments, largely after tea when Finn and Joe Root fell in quick succession with the lead below 100.

It was the second Test in a row where England have batted out nearly two days to save a game following their series-clinching performance against India in Nagpur before Christmas. Although a difference scenario - on that occasion the first-innings scores were almost level so it was always about building a lead - it acted as inspiration for a batting line-up still embarrassed by their demise for 167 on the second day.

"We've been lucky in one sense to escape with a draw certainly," Cook said. "That's a huge reminder that if you don't perform, you don't deserve to win anything. When you get bowled out for 160-odd in the first innings on a good wicket you are always going to be struggling and facing an uphill battle just to save the game. After they were 130 for none, it was pretty much damage limitation from there on.

"It was about stopping them scoring which we didn't do as well as we could have done and we knew when we batted again we had to bat 170 overs. It was very similar to the Nagpur situation. That was very evident to see and we reminded the lads that they done it before and there's no reason, if we applied the same mindset, we couldn't do that. The character to dig ourselves out of a hole is very pleasing."

While England's fight bailed them out of a tough situation - as it did at Brisbane in 2010-11 - it would be far more preferable if they did not find themselves in such positions. Excluding Bangladesh, they have not won the opening Test of an away series since beating South Africa at Port Elizabeth in 2004-05. Cook did not have an answer. "We don't know. That's the bottom line," he said.

"It's a thing we talked about before the series, something that we recognise we have started overseas series poorly for a while now. It's something we wanted to address, but unfortunately our actions didn't back up our words and it's very hard to come back from the situation we found ourselves in."

Cook didn't shy away from what put England into a backs-to-the-wall position in the first place - a series of horrid shots on the second day as the first innings lasted only 55 overs. Cook, himself, was culpable when he cut a short ball to point while four wickets were donated to Bruce Martin.

"They put some pressure on us, but if you look at the shots it was pretty poor shot selection, or probably more poor shot execution, you can pretty much describe it as soft dismissals. If you do that against any team you pay the price."

As ever when a team fights back to draw a Test from such a difficult position - England have only saved four matches with bigger first-innings deficits in their history - there are questions about where the balance of power now lies especially with back-to-back Tests. Brendon McCullum was pleased that his team had been able to dictate the match throughout, but Cook felt England could take plenty from their second innings.

"It certainly gives us some confidence, especially when you get bowled out for 160 in the first innings, as a batting unit you can start to have negative thoughts - you don't want that to snowball."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on March 12, 2013, 22:36 GMT

    @AKS I only put SL not India read again.

    NZ beat SL in SL and drew the series there. Even the match NZ lost SL batsmen couldn't handle Southee who took 7 wickets in one inning. Now they are conceding 600 to Bangladesh. India are definitely in the league with Eng SA Aus.

    But in this test I think NZ can push England because Englands bowling is weak apart from Anderson. If NZ can overcome their habit of collapsing then they can even win the series.

  • JG2704 on March 12, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    @Shan156 on (March 11, 2013, 23:09 GMT) I would agree with your post. The point I was trying to make is that their pace attack right now (in suitable conditions) makes them as good if not better in that dept. As the series is in England (pace conditions) I think that makes Australia alot more dangerous and brings the teams closer than many on here seem to think. Having said that , it also seems that Hussey might be a huge void to fill and Aus badly need other batsmen besides Clarke to step up to the plate.

  • Shan156 on March 11, 2013, 23:09 GMT

    @JG2704, I think we are ahead of Aus. as much as we are behind RSA. While the Aussies have good strength in depth in pace bowling where we are behind, our batting and spin bowling stocks are way superior. Of our top 7, except Root (who has played only 2 tests), everyone averages over 40 with 3 of them, Cook, KP, and Trott, averaging close to 50. I am not going to predict a whitewash for Eng. and I concede that it will be a closely fought series but I think we will prevail. In Aus., it may be even closely fought with a series draw the most likely result. But, as you say, 4 months is a long time in cricket.

  • AKS286 on March 11, 2013, 19:59 GMT

    Second test -- everything will be OK for Eng. ENG will justify the McCullum words that ENG is test giant. Eng ranking is 2 from top order & NZ ranking is 2 from lower order. Expensive DERNBACH is good for test cricket specially in NZ conditions.

  • AKS286 on March 11, 2013, 16:57 GMT

    @ Ken Fawcett on (March 11, 2013, 14:51 GMT) Ind & SL are not in that league. because atleast they are very strong in their home. But WI, NZ, PAK are same in Home or overseas.

  • dummy4fb on March 11, 2013, 14:51 GMT

    NZ fan here, I think England are still the 2nd best test team. The first innings was a one off. If England want to dominate in the Ashes or get close to SA they need another worldclass seamer and also swann back. Their batting line up is just as good if not better than SA's but SA would get NZ out on any wicket, whereas Anderson with the new ball was the only real threat in this test.

    AKS286, although I think it is a touch disrespectful I'd agree with you, and also throw SL in the mix. I think there is a divide in quality between NZ, WI, Pak, SL and Ind, Aus, Eng, SA at the moment. But I was very happy with the NZ performance both with ball and bat and if they continue like that they can start winning consistently against the bottom 4 teams.

  • JG2704 on March 11, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    I happen to agree with Olly on this one. I think we're probably closer to Aus than SA right now. Eng did better vs India but Aus did better vs SA. Re Eng vs SA - 2-0 was probably an accurate reflection of how the series went. Re Aus vs SA , in the 1st 2 tests Aus outplayed SA. Eng seem to be better on turning pitches right now and probably have the extra dimension in quality spinners which Aus don't have. But on pitches which assist pace , while I'd back Eng I certainly would not write Aus off. Remember 4-6 months can be a long time in cricket.

  • mux164 on March 11, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    i'm not saying chuck your wicket away but there were plenty of bad balls that didnt get hit. i just think its an ugly way to go about it. South Africa rarely play that way and they still win alot and lose very little. Australia is the same way and they are playing crap but its still better as a package than to watch openers score hundreds off 300 balls.

    it was a good thing the first day was washed out.

    good on young rutherford was a great knock. particularly when james anderson got cranky haha. pull your head in jimmy you are not that quick anymore

  • 5wombats on March 10, 2013, 22:09 GMT

    @ olly_76. I don't agree that we are on a second level with Australia. We stuffed them in Australia in 2010/11 and even in 2009 when England were average and Aus much stronger than they are now - we beat them then too. Player for player England are stronger than Aus currently with the noteable exception of Clarke who is world class. In this game though we played poorly - just as we did last year against the West Indies. The horror of the UAE should have taught England a few lessons about so-called "lesser" opposition. The truth is - there is no lesser opposition - and the other truth is - England didn't learn the lesson.

  • olly_76 on March 10, 2013, 21:40 GMT

    shan156 - I agree with your summary. I think we're well behind SA at the moment, we were lucky to walk away with a draw here and we play badly too often. I see ourselves as on a second level with the Australians (despite their poor form in India). Also agree with one of the previous posters who suggested our top order is a bit dull at the moment, though both Trott and Bell are stylish. Still, runs are runs.

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