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

Cook relieved to have salvaged draw

Andrew McGlashan in Dunedin

March 10, 2013

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

Ian Bell and Matt Prior walk off at the end of the day's play, New Zealand v England, 1st Test, Dunedin, 5th day, March 10, 2013
It was the second Test in a row where England have batted out nearly two days to save a game © Getty Images
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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

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Posted by   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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by   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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by Shan156 on (March 10, 2013, 20:33 GMT)

re: the 1st test, despite a valiant 2nd innings rearguard, England seem to have imbibed India's bad habit of starting a series poorly (India seem to have lost that habit now). However, you got to give credit to NZ too. They bowled and batted well. Hamish Rutherford is a good find. Despite the lack of help for the bowlers, Hamish played a valiant knock on debut considering the reputation of Eng's bowlers. Wagner bowled well too and so did Boult even though he didn't have the wickets to show for his efforts. I expect Eng. to improve in the next two tests but they would have realized that it is not as easy to beat NZ in NZ as they may have originally thought. I expect us to beat NZ comfortably in Eng. though.

Posted by Shan156 on (March 10, 2013, 20:30 GMT)

@din7, that is very optimistic. While Eng. remain a good test team, they are some notches behind SA who boast a very potent pace attack that can dismantle any side anywhere. England's pace attack, which seemed too strong two years back, is not looking so strong now. The first choice attack of Anderson, Finn, and Broad is quite good but nowhere as potent as Steyn, Philander, Morkel (even the new guy Abbott impressed in his very first outing). However, our strength in depth is not that good. While we do possess 2 quality spinners, we would need a strong pace attack to regain the #1 ranking. The batting looks strong on paper despite suffering some brainless collapses (like in the 1st innings in Dunedin).

Posted by din7 on (March 10, 2013, 15:44 GMT)

Eng is the only team that can challenge SA anywhere..yes they did lost last series in eng but that series was lost more becuase of KP saga which divided the eng team...but the fact reamins the only team that can match SA is ENG, also they are most balanced side in the world with 2 wc spinners...and it seems eng will be no1 team in 1 to 2 yrs and will hold it for long!

Posted by bumsonseats on (March 10, 2013, 14:20 GMT)

last tour if i am not wrong we were beaten in the 1st test. its not only a cricketing thing. most English sides in any sport, when we should win, we shoot ourselves in the foot. our press who can build us up, then are only to pleased then to put the boot in when we loose. in the Autumn we should have beaten Aus and SA in rugby union which we did not,and loose to NZ but won. its a British trait, which we have to live with. which maybe when we do win we can go overboard.

Posted by AKS286 on (March 10, 2013, 13:47 GMT)

First off all Win or loss over NZ, Wi, Pak did't matter to any team and should not be bother about that. These 3 team can only surprise. These 3 teams can cost nothing. These teams are emerging permanent test team by the ICC. About Rutherford i think one more test match for him after that he is going to be injured because he must have to follow the NZ trends. @gsingh7 I think COOk, Compton century saved that match.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (March 10, 2013, 13:03 GMT)

@mux164 on (March 10, 2013, 9:47 GMT), why would you play shots that can get you out when you've got no chance to win the game? You may not realise it but England place more importance on not losing than entertaining you.

Posted by landl47 on (March 10, 2013, 11:56 GMT)

I think England has a number of players who have a bit of a facussing problem and start off a series trying to run before they can walk. Cook himself was guilty of that in this test. Once they get into the right frame of mind they are OK, but it takes them a while (and if you want to say that's because they aren't the smartest bunch in the world, you probably wouldn't be far wrong).

England has a fair amount of talent and they don't give up easily, but they are not by any stretch of the imagination a great side. However, man for man they have better players than NZ. This was NZ's best chance of winning and I expect England to be far more competitive in the two remaining tests.

Posted by bumsonseats on (March 10, 2013, 11:32 GMT)

if england had won the toss it would help. the conditions were helpful on the 1st day,with england always behind the 8 ball. in austraila we had about 4/5 games which helped. as add on with kp with an injury it can make the rotation scheme look silly, showing just if you rest someone does not mean they will necessary not have injuries

Posted by Hammond on (March 10, 2013, 11:14 GMT)

@mux164- you musn't watch a lot of test cricket. You have to play according to your position in the match. England needed both those innings, played in exactly that tempo, taking up time as well as ticking the scoreboard over. If you want smash and bash, watch the IPL.

Posted by   on (March 10, 2013, 9:45 GMT)

I think new zealand could have won this match had they declared a bit earlier.The early morning conditions could have been utilised on day4.England did well enough to save the match with rain also playing huge role.Whosoever will dominate the 2nd test will go on to win the series.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (March 10, 2013, 9:43 GMT)

@gsingh7: India lost the recent test series getting thrashed at home. They got whitewashed in England. Please explain how those two unfortunate events fit in to your narrative.

Posted by Fluid36 on (March 10, 2013, 9:13 GMT)

All this talk about gifting wickets is rubbish, Bruce Martin bowled very well on debut on a wicket that was as flat as a pancake and did not turn. The man got a couple to bounce a bit more which forced false shots from Prior and Trott and deserved those wickets. What did Panesar do?, typical biased drival.

Posted by gsingh7 on (March 10, 2013, 7:56 GMT)

England has saved a test with a bit of help from rain, I expect NZ to save a test with a bit of help from rain.nz will win third to win series 1-0

Posted by HawK89 on (March 10, 2013, 6:59 GMT)

M.Prior is a reliable wicketkeeper batsmen, and with Bell, there was pretty much no hope for the NZ bowling attack on a pitch that didn't crack up for the 5th (4th) day.

Posted by SamRoy on (March 10, 2013, 6:55 GMT)

Except for Australia who have got NZ's measure in NZ no other team has been able to whitewash NZ in NZ often enough. That's why I predicted at the beginning of the series that Cook will be reasonably happy with a 1-0 victory. England has saved a test with a bit of help from rain, I expect NZ to save a test with a bit of help from rain and England to run through NZ in one of the tests.

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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