New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington, 5th day March 18, 2013

Cook believes attack 'back to their best'


Whenever England travel to the subcontinent, or know they will encounter a flat pitch, they talk about 'finding a way' to take 20 wickets. Perhaps, even if only subconsciously, they did not expect to have to use such a philosophy on this tour of New Zealand but they would do well to delve back into their memory banks ahead of the final Test in Auckland.

Whether you want to term it presumption or not, it was expected that England's bowling attack, especially the quicks, would dominate this series. That was not being arrogant or disrespectful, it was a judgement based on form and rankings. The fact they have not managed to blow New Zealand away - far from it in Dunedin - is credit to the home side.

There was a glimpse in the first-innings in Wellington of when this England attack, missing Graeme Swann from their first-choice combination, performs at its optimum; three high-class quick bowlers relentlessly running in, with the spinner maintaining the pressure at the other end. Would England have been closer to victory with Swann? Most likely, but Monty Panesar, with a little more luck and maybe a tad more patience, could have had more than his one wicket.

It is vital to make use of the new ball, which Stuart Broad did superbly late in New Zealand's first innings, and England also pride themselves on making the old ball reverse. There was a spell of that, too, from James Anderson during a classy burst to Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling when he had the ball under his complete control.

"I think it was outstanding in that first innings to bowl New Zealand out for 250. On that wicket, that was a great effort," Alastair Cook said. "The guys were back to their best, putting New Zealand under a lot of pressure and not letting them get away from us. "That is one of our hallmarks. Although Jimmy didn't get the wickets, he bowled 30 overs into that wind, pretty much - an outstanding effort. It was great to see Broady back in the wickets, and bowling as well as I think he has done."

Still, it has not been easy for the bowlers and is unlikely to become any more so in the final Test. Lessons learned from the subcontinent travels of recent years - and how they dominated in Australia during 2010-11 - will need to be remembered for them to take 20 wickets at Eden Park. They are also in a similar position to New Zealand last week, coming off the back for a lengthy spell in the field, although the final-day washout will have allowed them to begin their recovery.

"Clearly, I don't think we really wanted to enforce the follow-on, when you've bowled 90 overs on a good wicket and put the effort in - with four bowlers - that the lads had," Cook said. "But the circumstance with the weather - we knew it was pretty accurate, when it's so close - we thought we'd have 80 overs to bowl them out. That was a chance to win the game, and our only chance really. We asked a lot of the bowlers to do that, and unfortunately didn't quite create enough chances."

The bowler who appeared to feel the workload most was Anderson who needed some treatment for a stiff back during the second innings although it did not prevent him of running in. Despite being the senior bowler, Anderson did most of work into the wind and Cook was keen to emphasise the commitment.

"They're just niggles, a bit of wear and tear from bowling 30 overs - and as he keeps reminding me, only seven with the wind," he said. "Stuff like that goes unnoticed. When you're watching on TV, you don't feel how strong the wind is. But you only have to stand at slip, thinking he's got to run into that - and he never really complained, not on the pitch anyway."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anupam on March 19, 2013, 8:15 GMT

    @Posted by slasher on (March 19, 2013, 1:44 GMT) Winning is a habit for team Or players ? fella - the team i mentioned that will also win. Once shane warne & S.Waugh told that the fighting spirit & hungry for win in Bangladesh is more than WI & NZ. I agree what these legends said. As you say after 3-4 yrs for last 15 years nothing changed for NZ. yes some stars are born in NZ but they are shooting stars Shines & after few times Faded. The biggest enemy of NZ cricket is INJURY- thats the history. and also don't give me the injury list of other teams check out how much matches played by other team's injury players & NZ injury players. The players you mentioned just check how long they will play. still my fav. all-rounder is Chris Cairns.

  • John on March 19, 2013, 2:22 GMT

    @ CricketMaan - Kerrigan (the favorite to make it to the top level), Dockrell (sorry Irish fans), Briggs and Borthwick (both have considerable Lions experience and some International limited overs exposures)

  • Leigh on March 19, 2013, 1:44 GMT

    @AKS286 If England field that team they lose. You have to play your best players or you end up ruining your team, you lose momentum and you allow other teams confidence. NZ have players who in three to four years time can be a force to be reckoned with (Rutherford, Williamson, Southee, Boult along with Ryder, McCullum and Taylor) open the door to them now and they will push through. Winning is habit and you have to maintain it. The pitch is not an excuse its a challenge.

  • Shanmugam on March 18, 2013, 22:22 GMT

    @Vinay Kolhatkar, won't hurt to try turners against Aus. but I think our first choice pace attack and Swann are good enough to get 20 Aussie wickets in England. Don't want the Aussies to use any excuse. While the Aussies do possess a decent set of pacemen, how many of them would last b2b tests, leave alone b2b series?

  • Shanmugam on March 18, 2013, 22:20 GMT

    @brusselslion, lol at gsingh7's predictions. Please note that he is predicting a 0-5 defeat to England. Should we be expecting an unprecedented 5-0 win for England then?

  • Shanmugam on March 18, 2013, 22:17 GMT

    Look, an Aussie trying to seek consolation from Eng's poor results in the UAE and against SA for his team's poor performances in India. @Mitty2, Eng. lost in UAE, fair enough, Pak. were the better side but we fought well; unlike Aus. who are making India look like a great side. We lost badly to SA but we did give them a fight in 2 out of 3 tests just like you did. Probably you fared better against them than we did. But, what matters is how England and Australia fared against each other in their last series home and away. Eng. won 2-1 at home and 3-1 away with 3 innings victories. England are ranked #2 and Aus. are ranked #3. Probably will tumble after their impending defeat in Delhi. Anyway, past results dont matter when it comes to this year's b2b Ashes. Also, just like how Aus.' poor performance in India won't have any impact in the Ashes, neither would Eng. bowlers' struggles in NZ.

  • John on March 18, 2013, 21:32 GMT

    @Mitty2 - Aus scored big runs vs a better SA attack but

    1, Wasn't Hussey still around and impacting during that series? 2, Because Aus did better against SA than Eng did and England beat India that means Australia beat India right?

    Your stats may be correct - but do you not feel things have changed somewhat recently? Do you seriously believe that Aus have little to worry about?

    - RE "You had five2 012 sub continent tests as preperation and gambhir and sehwag to bowl to"


    1- The 5 SC tests in prep for the India were separated by 8-9 months & 2 home series so all they will have learnt from SL/UAE would likely be forgotten by the time Eng visited India 2- If Ind series win was due to the 5 tests prep played in SL/UAE - why in the 1st test were we thrashed.

    Also maybe Indias team selections vs Eng were poor as with Aus vs Ind but we could all blame team selections on results inc England

  • Nicholas on March 18, 2013, 21:03 GMT

    @Mitty2 (post on March 18, 2013, 6:27 GMT): Yeah but the whole idea of a 'dig' is you say something relevant to modern cricket. Since when has 'getting it over 140' mattered a jot in test cricket? Did the great McGrath consistently bowl fierce pace? Do the averages of England's bowlers now really reflect their potential abilities against the likes of 'switch-hit-and-out-Warner' and 'Phil-I-made-1-50-in-India-Hughes'? Has Wade found a pair of gloves that fit him yet? I don't think either team (England or Aus.) have shown their finest for a long time now, but you're always going to get avid fans talking up players and teams like they're legendary.

  • michael on March 18, 2013, 17:50 GMT

    Cricketmaan, we have some decent options around the county circuit. Obviously Panesar is the next in line and is still relatively young. We also have James Tredwell who has performed well in ODI cricket. There is Kerrigan at Lancashire who has performed well for the Lions. Scott Borthwick is a good young leg spinner who bats too and Danny Briggs, a left arm spinner. Yorkshire have a crop of good young asian spinners coming through so the cupboard is far from empty. Vinay, Tremlett is coming back from a serious back injury and should be playing for Surrey in the CC starting next month.

  • Sriram on March 18, 2013, 16:29 GMT

    What will happen with Swann hangs his boots? Who is the next in line for England? Thier batting seems to be secure as is thier fast bowling but the spin cupboard is still empty..unless someone tells me there are a lot more in England plying with spin trade!