New Zealand v England, 3rd Test, Auckland, 5th day March 26, 2013

The gamble that almost paid off for McCullum

Plays of the day from the final day of the Auckland Test between New Zealand and England

Over of the day
With four overs to go in the day, Brendon McCullum threw Kane Williamson the ball. One final throw of the dice - and it so nearly worked. With his third ball, he had Stuart Broad caught at first slip to end 77 balls of defiance and two deliveries later, James Anderson went the same way. It was fantastic bowling from a part-time offspinner. He so nearly sealed the match, too, when Monty Panesar got an inside edge past the stumps. What tension.

Cheers of the day
The New Zealand fans were applauding an England boundary. Prior was desperate to get the strike back so he could face Williamson's final over the match, but when the ball squirted between gully and point, it had enough pace to reach the rope even across a slow outfield. The home support gave it a standing ovation, but their joy was short-lived as Panesar squeezed a single off the next ball he faced, although he needed a desperate dive to make it to the other end.

Limp of the day
Shortly before New Zealand's first breakthrough of the day, McCullum had to chase a ball to the boundary and hurt himself in the process. When the wicket fell, he was actually off the field having treatment, but soon hobbled back on to take his place at second slip and marshal his team as he had done superbly throughout the series.

Drop of the day
There were two in the last over before lunch. It was the first of them, Ian Bell put down by Dean Brownlie at fourth slip, that could have been costly because Bell has saved England in the past with a long rearguard against South Africa at Cape Town. Boult drew Bell into playing away from his body and the edge flew at a decent height to Brownlie, who had held a fine catch to remove Alastair Cook on the fourth evening; but he could not cling on.

Unmoveable bails of the day
Matt Prior lived a charmed life. On 20, he top-edged a pull just out of the reach of Neil Wagner running back from midwicket, but his biggest stroke of fortune came on 28. This time Wagner had Prior fending off a short ball, which lobbed from the glove down onto the stumps but, despite striking with reasonable force, the bails stayed firmly in place. How he made his luck count.

Wicket of the day
Bell had made use of his pre-lunch escape and made it to the brink of tea. Then, however, facing Neil Wagner, in another charged-up spell from around the wicket, he drove at a delivery that should have just been leaving - as he had done to so many - and edged into the slip cordon. This time it was held, by Tim Southee at third, to leave New Zealand on the brink. Or so we thought.

Review of the day
Stuart Broad has been in less awkward positions on a cricket pitch than the moment he was given lbw to Trent Boult, collapsed to the ground and called for a review while down on his knees in the crease. The replays showed a thick inside edge so Broad was safe and the immediate concern became his well-being, after the bat handle jabbed him in the throat as he fell down. A red mark was visible on his neck, but after a quick painkiller he was fine to continue. For quite some time.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on March 27, 2013, 15:32 GMT

    @Paul Carew on (March 26, 2013, 18:01 GMT) You're certainly right re the description of bottler describer but I suppose if you were being harsh , he didn't see the job through and leaving Prior with Broad and below with a session to survive would for the vast majority of the time be too big an ask. However it was a well earned wicket so bottling it was a bit strong. Bell (on this occasion) was more deserving to be there at the end than Prior who had a huge amount of luck. It was a shame Hick and Ramps didn't do better (esp for me Hick) but they were given chances. And Vaughan is spot on - we were outplayed in the series as a whole. NZ got the better of the 1st test , Eng the 2nd and NZ by far the better of the 3rd. Yes we drew the 3rd and grit helped us do it but so did BM batting on so long and dropped chances and luck

  • John on March 27, 2013, 1:02 GMT

    I think Monty's dive suffered from "drop-in pitch syndrome", which was also an issue for one of the NZ batsmen earlier, who nearly impaled himself on his bat. The grass beside the pitch is lush, outfield-type grass, unlike on a regular pitch square. As such, it makes sliding your bat, or your body, over the line a slightly different proposition.

  • Beau on March 27, 2013, 0:01 GMT

    Easy to say Baz should have declared earlier, but I think he was probably considering factors we are not. He definitely wasn't worried about his hundred, that suggestion is ridiculous. I think it much more likely that he wanted to bat through the comfortable middle session, run up and down the pitch a few more times, and just make England wait and wonder that bit longer. Four sessions should have been plenty, and would have been if not for dropped catches and/or a missed referral on Bairstow and/or Prior's bizarre non-dismissal.

    A great Test, so glad I got to watch most of it. Positives for both sides to take away. The kiwis should be stoked to have bossed this particular English team into batting out time in two of three Tests, and the English should be pretty chuffed with having pulled it off, twice. England with more questions to answer, though NZ's batting still looked a bit thin at times.

    Looking forward to the return series!

  • John on March 26, 2013, 23:39 GMT

    @marts30 - I'm talking about the IPL guys missing the return series. I'm not up to speed with NZ cricket but wasn't there talk of NZ sending a second string team to England because of IPL commitments?

  • Alan on March 26, 2013, 21:56 GMT

    @ theDoctor - it obviously wasn't "plenty of time" to bowl them out. In case you failed to notice, we only got 9 wickets. I was on the fence about the follow-on, but felt we definitely batted too long. As well as the time aspect, by giving them absolutely no chance of winning it simplified their approach to just concentrating on survival. With the innings by Bell, it could have been an advantage to have in the back his mind that a victory was an outside possibility if he scored some runs. It would also have let us take the second new ball in the morning, when there often seems to be a bit more swing around (moisture in the air???).

    Anyhow, I agree with you that Bell played very well, and some people are not giving him the credit he deserves. Runs were irrelevant, and he faced the most balls, therefore his was the best innings in my book.

  • Dummy4 on March 26, 2013, 20:37 GMT

    no i agree with baz not enforcing follow on in the previous two tests his bowlers had been thrashed to their knees, he gave himself the best chance of winning batting again and batted england right out of the game. as for the declaration he got that just about right. new zealand created enough chances to win and in the end two dropped catches one of which should have been taken was enough to loose the match!

  • Zeeshan on March 26, 2013, 19:49 GMT

    That was the best game I have seen in a long time. A drawn series is the perfect result considering the resilience shown by both sides (and the stumps in this match ;) ).

  • Dummy4 on March 26, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    As usual some plonkers have a go at Bell for getting out or 'Bottling it', I really hate that term. 271 balls of defiance and he is again chastised. People are forever having a go at the bloke, probably the same ones who say that it was a shame that Hick and Ramprakash (with far inferior records) didn't do better or were not given much of a chance. I also get tired of ex-captains of England having a go, like Vaughan who lost 2 series in Sri Lanka very limply, saying England were outplayed. Does battling for a draw in the first Test not get any credit and if it had not been for almost 2 days of rain in the 2nd Test England could well have gone into this game 1-0 up.

  • OMPRAKASH on March 26, 2013, 13:30 GMT

    Everyone is talking that mcCullum should declare earlier. But no one is talking that why he is not enforced the follow on. If he has enforced the follow on, I am quite sure that Kiwis would certainly win the match. If the follow on was enforced, it would be really very very tough for England to overcome the deficit and then set a winning target.

  • david on March 26, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    were the DRS is in use it does make the game more honest. as an example the commentary team say it must be out as the whole of team A, has gone up for a catch behind, but the umpire gives it not out.that been the case team A must use a referral,have a huddle look sheepish, but then use it, and by my thinking by doing that they know they were tying it on. i also thought in the ind v aus they seemed to have sneaked the DRS in by the back door, as some of the decisions that they sent upstairs should have been decided on field. all in all the games the better for its use

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