New Zealand v England, 3rd Test, Auckland

Deadlocked sides target final flourish

The Preview by David Hopps

March 20, 2013

Comments: 40 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

Friday, March 22, Eden Park, Auckland
Start time 1030 (2130 GMT previous day)

Jonny Bairstow drives on the off side, Mumbai A v England XI, Mumbai, 1st day, November 3, 2012
Jonny Bairstow is in line for a recall to England's middle order © Getty Images

Big Picture

There is a Test series up for grabs in New Zealand, but England's thoughts are never far away from the important summer that lies in wait. Their hosting of the Champions Trophy offers them a chance to break their duck in a 50-over ICC tournament and then there is the little matter of back-to-back Ashes series. There is no point pretending otherwise - it is on everybody's mind.

Three back-to-back Tests in New Zealand are bound to leave England a little queasy. Every time James Anderson frowned in his run up in the second Test in Wellington, awful visions appeared of him missing an entire summer with an as yet undiagnosed injury. But Anderson came through 37 grueling overs, largely into the wind, with nothing more than a few back and heel niggles and with the help of the rain that washed out the final day confirmed that he felt okay again. He is only five wickets short of 300 but the slightest concern about his fitness would tempt England to play safe and rest their most prized bowling asset; Graham Onions was one of only three players who had optional nets on Tuesday.

And what of Monty? He was outbowled by Bruce Martin at the Basin Reserve and before this series few people in England had even heard of Bruce Martin. As Graeme Swann's sidekick in India, Panesar shared in one of the finest spin-bowling feats in England's Test history. As a lone spinner in New Zealand, his ability to block up an end allowed England to rotate their fast bowlers (and, no mean feat, probably helped to keep them fit in the process).

Accusations that New Zealand have been intent solely on a nil-all draw are somewhat unfair. If the pitch in Dunedin was a drudge, Wellington provided a decent Test surface. New Zealand have been competitive, not remotely the pushovers that some imagined as they have battled back from the mess of the Ross Taylor ousting; they can take pride in that. Indeed, their professionalism has been so exemplary it invites the New Zealand public to consider whether the replacement of Taylor with Brendon McCullum was actually more logical than it has so far cared to admit.

Form guide

New Zealand DDLLW
England DDDWW

Players to watch ...

Brendon McCullum has led from the front for New Zealand throughout this tour. His counter-attacking half-century in Wellington (are his innings ever anything else?) was his fifth in consecutive innings. However, his form is too good for him not to convert into a hundred. If the surface at Eden Park does have more pace and bounce as suggested McCullum is one of the New Zealand batsmen best equipped to deal with it. Beating England after all that has happened - what an achievement that would be.

Jonny Bairstow has played one first-class innings in seven months and now England have confirmed he will be pitched into a deciding Test. No surprise, then, that while most of the squad had a day off on Wednesday he was working in the nets with Graham Gooch. It has been a difficult for months for Bairstow - form and family issues impacted his tours - but this is a chance, albeit an unexpected one, to play a key role for England.

Team news

Kevin Pietersen will not only miss the final Test in Auckland but the whole of the IPL because of a knee injury which has been ruled out of all cricket for up to eight weeks. Instead of the adulation which he laps up on every visit to India, he faces a lengthy rehabilitation with a view to regaining match fitness in time for the Champions Trophy and the Ashes series which follows. Bairstow will deputise. For New Zealand, a third Test in quick succession will tempt them to shuffle their pace attack with the possibility that Doug Bracewell may get an outing instead of Trent Boult.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Peter Fulton, 2 Hamish Rutherford, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Dean Brownlie, 6 Brendon McCullum, 7 BJ Watling, 8 Doug Bracewell, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Bruce Martin, 11 Neil Wagner

England (probable): 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Nick Compton, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ian Bell, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Joe Root, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Steven Finn, 10 James Anderson, 11 Monty Panesar.

Pitch and conditions

Drop-in Test pitches are regarded with such suspicion - somewhere between an artificial surface and the real thing - that discussing their likely behaviour still seems a little unreal. A couple of days to help the seamers before the pitch flattens out was one analysis. As for the weather, temperatures at the end of the summer have slipped a tad, but a maximum of 23C and a good deal of sunshine is the forecast.

Stats and trivia

  • Eden Park has staged 47 matches since 1930 and many suspect this may be its last. Its straight boundaries fall well short of the 70m minimum distance from the centre of the pitch, but ICC regulations allow any ground approved for international cricket before 2007 cricket to be exempt. So that's alright then.

  • New Zealand have beaten England only once in 15 attempts at Eden Park (10 have been drawn). Daryl Tuffey was the star of their win in 2002 with nine wickets in the match and his 6 for 54 in the first innings was a Test-best analysis.

  • England have won deciders on this tour over both 50 and 20 overs.

  • England have never won a 50-over ICC trophy; if they tell you they have not even given the Champions Trophy, to be played in England in June, a second thought, greet it with suspicion.


"The confidence within the group is building nicely but there's also a realism that we will have to perform outstandingly well for five days. England stepped up in those previous two deciders and we went missing so this will be a good challenge to see if we've progressed as a team."
Brendon McCullum

"In an ideal world a pitch with more pace and bounce would make for a more exciting wicket. But whichever pitch we get in Auckland we'll try to find the best way to win the game."
Alastair Cook, England's captain, vows to keep going.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (March 21, 2013, 21:34 GMT)

@5wombats: Oh come now, if you look at the bigger picture this could be one of the best things ever to happen to England. Compton has proved he has the talent to partner Cook at the top of the order; Broad (who didn't deserve to even come on tour) has got some mojo back; erratic KP is finally out of the frame and will allow somebody else a turn; the importance of good spinners has once again been shown. Most of these things wont be shown on the DVD series, but it could be a defining series for England.

Posted by   on (March 21, 2013, 21:32 GMT)

NZ should put up a good fight if they bowl first, but if they bat first it will be hard for them, because they are good side chasing, they look more comfortable, but saying that it will be intresting to see NZ and ENG play in this final test match, best thing for nz to do is to attack early because the ground is so small, england bowler will be a tough challenge if england bowl first, but....GO BLACK CAPS!!!

Posted by Flighted_kiwi on (March 21, 2013, 21:23 GMT)

I know that some would throw their hands up in horror at the suggestion but I think NZ are missing the phantom. More so than Vettori. Bruce Martin has done a very able job with bat and ball but our pace bowlers seem to have struggled if the pitch is flatter. Maybe they miss having someone with experience. We have a lot of promising new bowlers but most times at least one of them seems to struggle. It's happened previously where we've ditched all our experienced players and then struggled. In my opinion it is something NZC have done very poorly since the 1980's. They seem to have had no clear plan as to how to transition older players out without losing their experience and bring in new ones. The last few decades are littered with players who have probably never been properly developed and mentored, who continue to exhibit the same flaws in ther game year after year and who have never risen above being average test players at best.

Posted by Beige_and_blue on (March 21, 2013, 20:15 GMT)

@Andrew Edgington: as a kiwi fan my answer is: simply not Prior. he has been in fine and dynamic form for the whole series so far and I see him as a real threat. the other two? not so much. Root has been unspectacularly average so far, and while Bairstow may have done well in T20, we havent seen enough to judge him at Tests. @LillianThompson While I like the general make up of your team, forget about Ryder at this stage; he has made it very clear that he is unavailable, And I'm not keen on Watling opening and batting; use him for 1 or the other but not both at this stage. As for Vettori, I now see him as a batting all rounder; perhaps he should open, and we reinstate Bruce Martin? Or; given the predicted bouncy nature of the wicket, and form Wagner might be a better pick.

Posted by 5wombats on (March 21, 2013, 19:46 GMT)

@jb633 on (March 21, 2013, 13:52 GMT) Nice comms. Yeah - look I think that tour of India REALLY took it out of our boys. In the same way that winning in Australia in 2010/11 was a significant milestone - so too winning in India. Not many teams have achieved these energy sapping feats. It seems that this England side are well below par - possibly unable to raise their game, and this to me is verging on unacceptable. Play full throttle all day every day - or else don't bother. @jb633 - I see what you say about the pitches - but we've bowled on worse pitches and done better. Like to see a much better performance in this Test.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (March 21, 2013, 19:36 GMT)

@Shan156 A lot of people predicted that Monty would be less successful here. It's a pity, but probably James Tredwell would have taken more wickets. The one thing that Monty has done to perfection is to bowl long, inexpensive spells to allow the quicks to rest. However, with Steve Finn also mis-firing, I would probably prefer the extra wickets of Tredwell, even if a little more expensive.

Posted by Shan156 on (March 21, 2013, 19:04 GMT)

Before the series started, 6 of Eng's top 7 averaged over 40. Compton averaged 35 and with 2 back to back centuries, has now got it over 47. However, we now have 2 batsmen who are averaging in the 30s. Hopefully, Bairstow and Root will come good in this game. Our bowling needs to get sharper and hopefully a wicket with pace and bounce will help them. Monty needs a few wickets and for that he would need more variations. His approach worked in India but he has been found wanting in this series and has been comfortably outbowled by Chris Martin. Go England.

Posted by true_test_cricket_fan on (March 21, 2013, 18:12 GMT)

Looking forward to another Cook test century !!

Posted by NostroGustro on (March 21, 2013, 17:21 GMT)

@Lillian-Thompson Vettori's days in the test team should be over. His strike rate over his last two years is awful. It is high time we had an attacking spinner in tests, and Martin has started off very well in that regard, looking very impressive with both ball and bat in the 1st two tests. Dan's best avenue is as a defensive bowler in the shorter formats.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (March 21, 2013, 16:50 GMT)

@chillisi Are they now? Better weather and 5 days of cricket with a result at the end would be good! No one wants a minefield that would produce a result in 3 days. As various people have said, both Tests would have most likely have produced a result but for the rain, so the pitches can't have been that bad for cricket.

Posted by bumsonseats on (March 21, 2013, 16:18 GMT)

andy fyers its sods law play a test in a city or town that needs rain and low and behold you can bet it rains

Posted by jb633 on (March 21, 2013, 13:52 GMT)

Hahha think the author has mixed up his facts here as the Basin reserve does actually exist. @5womabts- I agree with you sentiments regarding the series. Rain has cutrailed the chances of a result in both matches but if we are being honest the pitches have not helped. I really hope we can see some seam movement in this game just to make things interesting. I miss the days of a real greentop in England and Zeland. Our (England) side really does not look as strong as it was in 2011 and I think we may struggle to win here, particularly if the pitch is flat again. I really do not think the make up of our seam attack is working at present. In test matches our seam attack has not properly fired (as a unit) since the tour of the UAE last year. Can we please be ruthless here and in the tests leading up to the ashes as we need to get the killer instinct (with the ball) back. I rate Finn highly but his red ball cricket has flattered to deceive somewhat. I am hoping he can really fire this yr.

Posted by   on (March 21, 2013, 13:42 GMT)

If you were a Kiwi who would you like to see coming out at 5 or 6? Prior or Root or Bairstow?

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (March 21, 2013, 13:18 GMT)

Bairstow deserves this chance. His innings' v SA were a revelation. Bell really needs to produce a big one along with the others. I think these Tests are too close together and I am sure most of the bowlers think so too. It should not be like this and goes a distance towards explaining why so many bowlers get bad injureis.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (March 21, 2013, 12:21 GMT)

@Samroy, I think the CT may have a bit more signifcance for Eng this year due to us being the hosts, but it has to be said it has never been deemed as an important tournament by Eng or anyone else in World cricket. @Chillsi I haven't seen anyone within the Eng set up criticize the standard of the pitches. I saw JA talk about them the other day & he conceded that the vast majority of pitches in modern test cricket are flat & the bowlers just have to work harder to get rewards. However I think as fans generally we would like to see more surfaces that produce a bit more of an even contest between bat & ball.

Posted by LillianThomson on (March 21, 2013, 12:10 GMT)

I'd have liked to see New Zealand go for broke in the absence of Pietersen, Swann and possibly Anderson:

1. Rutherford, 2. Watling (wk), 3. Williamson, 4. Taylor, 5. Ryder, 6. Brownlie, 7. McCullum, 8. Vettori, 9. Bracewell, 10. Southee, 11. Boult.

Ryder and Vettori would hugely strengthen the batting, and Bracewell and Vettori would also improve the bowling. The latter two both played on Wednesday, and Ryder has been the best batsman in the country all summer.

Posted by   on (March 21, 2013, 11:58 GMT)

@MO Blue you should also compare age and Sachin is playing at the age of 40 also can COOK play till that time? and break the records set by Sachin? I don't think so

Posted by   on (March 21, 2013, 11:45 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge New Zealand is in the midst of the worst drought in living memory. The rain in wellington at the end of the last test was the first in the North Island for months. So yes we can safely say it is not raining continuously over NZ.

Posted by Min2000 on (March 21, 2013, 11:34 GMT)

I'd drop Fulton and go with the extra bowler - Watling, Rutherford, Brownlie, Taylor, McCullum, Williamson, Bracewell, Martin, Wagner, Southee, Boult.

Having Bracewell that high in the order is definitely a gamble, but we need to take 20 wickets and with 5 frontline bowlers we might actually have a chance. Watling and McCullum could share the keeping duties over the match.

Posted by   on (March 21, 2013, 11:05 GMT)

@Samroy, none considers champions trophy to be any sort of deal - same in england. earlier when it used to be a knock out tournament, it still made sense to me. but now with the same group stage etc, I don't know why the tournament even exists!

Posted by moBlue on (March 21, 2013, 10:49 GMT)

out of curiosity, i just compared alistair cook's test batting record with sachin tendulkar's at the same number of tests:

alistair cook: 89 157 10 7260 294 49.38 24 29 sachin tendulkar: 89 143 15 7419 217 57.96 27 30

yes, sachin is better, but not by a whole lot! [8 runs on the average higher, and 3 more hundreds, 1 more 50, and 160 more runs in 14 fewer innings...]

cook could turn out to be an all-time great batsman when he is done.

Posted by LillianThomson on (March 21, 2013, 9:53 GMT)

@nzstumped The model of old-fashioned Test grounds based upon grassy embankments strikes me as being the way to go in NZ, with a capacity of around 8-12,000.

My suggestion would be to develop the oval at North Harbour stadium, across the bridge.

Posted by StevieS on (March 21, 2013, 8:20 GMT)

Front-Foot-Lunge no I don't think the rain will save England this time.

Posted by chillisi on (March 21, 2013, 7:14 GMT)

Funny England are asking for better pitches, have they forgotten all out 167 on a flat deck? Pitches are typically flat for NZ, but I think the unexpected consistency from NZ to compete at a world class level has been a pleasant surprise, despite who wins lets hope there is a winner and it is a well contested game... and no-one cares about the Champions Trophy, aren't the ICC dumping it anyways?

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (March 21, 2013, 7:14 GMT)

@SamRoy "every team except England thinks is the biggest tournament"?

Where does this come from? You will barely find an England fan who thinks that the Champions Trophy has a god reason to exist, let alone one who rates it with the World Cup and, yes, it hurts England fans not to have won the World Cup despite reaching the Final three times. Í would much rather win the summer Tests than the Champions Trophy and would be surprised to find more than a tiny minority of England fans who would disagree.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (March 21, 2013, 6:41 GMT)

Can anyone confirm for definite that it's not raining continuously over in NZ at the moment? I'll believe it when I see it. England take it on the chin that they get most early season fixtures rained off and thus are denied wins and ranking points as a result. It's a pity they're given this 'handicap' really, considering they spend the rest of the year thrashing sides like Australia and India just for fun.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (March 21, 2013, 6:40 GMT)

Both Tests would most certainly have produced results without the time lost to rain, which has amounted to a total of around 3 days so far. There has been something in both pitches for a bowler who has made the effort.

Monty has kept things tight, but not threatened to take wickets (there were plenty of people suggesting that this would be the likely scenario and suggesting that Tredwell would be the attacking option on these pitches) and Steve Finn seems intent on being re-classified as a batsman who bowls. However, the fact that Monty has built up pressure over long spells to keep the quicks fresh should not be underestimated. Bairstow or Woakes? England need 20 wickets, but now have a much longer tail with the loss of Swann and the decline of Broad's batting. Dropping a specialist batsman for an extra bowler would be a brave move that could misfire badly, given that Woakes has not been as penetrative as people hoped, but Bairstow is no guarantee of runs. It's a tough one to call.

Posted by StevieS on (March 21, 2013, 6:35 GMT)

Crazy playing it in Auckland, the only wicket in the world where a commentator can say he dabs it away for 6.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (March 21, 2013, 6:22 GMT)

@SamRoy on (March 21, 2013, 4:03 GMT), on what are you basing your comment that England consider the Champions Trophy to be bigger than the World Cup? Of course the World Cup is bigger and England consider it so just like everyone else does. You do realise that the Champions Trophy is in a few months while the World Cup is a couple of years away, right? Of course the focus is on the Champions Trophy first. Where do we get these people?

Posted by RiscoGrande on (March 21, 2013, 5:31 GMT)

they are looking at western springs and that would be good choice for a test venue

Posted by nzstumped on (March 21, 2013, 4:13 GMT)

Interesting article but...

Auckland is not NZ's capital. Wellington is.

I do however agree that Auckland needs a decent Test ground. The Victoria Park idea had merit but went nowhere. If not there, maybe the Domain cricket ground could be developed for use as a Test venue (temporary embankments, stands etc)? The close-to-downtown location is good for starters...

Posted by SamRoy on (March 21, 2013, 4:03 GMT)

Champions Trophy is an important tournament but is less important than any bilateral test series. The current test series between England and NZ is more important than that. The only important ODI tournament is the World Cup which is massive (and I wish was still played with red ball as white ball stops helping fast bowlers after 6-7 overs, now 14-15 overs because of two white ball rule) and every team except England thinks is the biggest tournament.

Posted by satishchandar on (March 21, 2013, 3:11 GMT)

Boult is a better bowler than Bracewell.. May be, not in a great form.. I think they opted for extra batting cushion Bracewell offers. The loss of KP would make it a bit easier for the bowlers.. He is a kind of player who might bring up a monster innings out of nowhere.. As always, i would name England as favorites given their better bowling attack and a batting lineup which is steady most times..

Posted by raul9000 on (March 21, 2013, 2:22 GMT)

New Zealand's capital already has a lovely test ground called the Basin Reserve.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (March 21, 2013, 2:12 GMT)

I think that it's important to remember that both the first two games likely would have produced results if not for the weather, so the pitches weren't as bad as some would have us believe. Weather permitting, a result is on the cards for this third game. England would have to be favourites but I'm certainly not counting NZ out. It just takes one NZ player to have a blinder or a few England batsmen or even one bowler to have a shocker and the balance is shifted completely. England need to hold all their catches again and will be hoping for more from Finn with the ball. With the bat, Bell and Root have something to prove and Bairstow will be hoping for something like his appearance against SA to help the team and his chances of getting in that team more often in the future. That said, I wonder whether they might go for Woakes to take some pressure off Anderson in particular.

Posted by Jazpink on (March 21, 2013, 1:47 GMT)

I think you'll find our capital does have a venue for test cricket: the Basin Reserve. Surely you meant to say our largest city should have venue suitable for test cricket.

Posted by Sephaka on (March 21, 2013, 1:44 GMT)

Sorry to be picky, but New Zealand's capital city does have a great Test ground - it's the Basin Reserve (in Wellington). But I'd definitely agree that Auckland needs a purpose-built Test cricket ground. Victoria Park near the city centre has had some support, which I think would be a great location with maybe one small stand and grass embankments. But rumour has it Auckland Cricket aren't so keen to move it there - they've got a stake in Eden Park and would lose out if the Tests moved elsewhere! Money talks apparently.

Posted by 5wombats on (March 21, 2013, 1:42 GMT)

This has been a disappointing series by anyone's definition. England have missed Swann sorely - perhaps as sorely as his elbow.... England's batting has not been imposing - but Compton has made his mark which is a real positive. Oddest of all - England's bowling, which has been the core of the teams success in recent years - has really not fired. But Broad seems to be coming back. Pity about his batting. Maybe this third Test will be a real humdinger - Maybe Anderson will fire - maybe he will be rested? who knows. And now with KP out the side looks that bit weaker.... Sorry guys - this has been a largely forgettable series so far. Hardly worth coming out of the burrow for.

Posted by CambyR on (March 21, 2013, 1:09 GMT)

The capital needs a better test venue? Basin not good enough for you bro?

Posted by   on (March 21, 2013, 0:54 GMT)

"Now there's a debate to pass the time while watching Test cricket in the mind-numbing surroundings of a rugby ground - isn't it about time New Zealand's capital city provided a venue fit for Test cricket? "

Raised a few good points but check your facts next time David. Considering where the Test wa splayed last week I figured it was hard to go past that Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, not Auckland.

Get up the BlackCaps

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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New Zealand v England at Wellington - Mar 14-18, 2013
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New Zealand v England at Dunedin - Mar 6-10, 2013
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NZ XI v England XI at Queenstown - Feb 27-Mar 2, 2013
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