New Zealand v England 2007-08 / News

New Zealand v England, 3rd Test, Napier, 4th day

Fleming's flat farewell

Andrew Miller in Napier

March 25, 2008

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Michael Vaughan shakes Stephen Fleming's hand as he arrives for his final innings © Getty Images
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Farewell of the day
Stephen Fleming entered the arena to a guard of honour from England's fielders, and left to a standing ovation, while his wife, Kelly, shed a tear or two of pride. In between whiles, Fleming served up the perfect hors d'oeuvre of an innings, much as he has been serving up throughout his 14-year career. For the 28th time in his 111-Tests, Fleming finished up with a score between 50 and 69, as a sumptuous and richly promising performance was brought to a close by a loose poke outside off stump and a thin nick to the keeper. At least he goes to retirement with an average in excess of 40, but it is scant consolation for the defeat that now beckons.

Flying start of the day
Matthew Bell had mustered three ducks and 48 runs in his first five innings of the series, and realistically, another failure in this match would have ruled him out of contention for the forthcoming tour to England. Perhaps James Anderson fancied him as a victim on a damp English seamer, because the over he served up midway through the morning session was as gratefully devoured as a UNICEF food parcel. Four wide long-hops, four boundaries of increasing authority, and one single later he had passed 30 for the first time in the series. Anderson, meanwhile, was required for just four more overs all day.

Golden arm of the day
Monty Panesar hasn't had the best of luck in this series - the catch that Kevin Pietersen put down in Wellington, for instance, was about the easiest chance he'll ever be offered. But today, Monty's luck belatedly turned. With his third ball after lunch, he dislodged Jamie How, who had hitherto looked utterly unfazed during a 48-run opening stand, but then, three balls after tea, he repeated the dose against the hapless Bell, who had hardly put a foot wrong all innings, but then chose to have a swing at Panesar's worst delivery of the match. It was short, leg-sided and begged to be slapped, but Bell undercut it and sent a top-edge spiralling to Stuart Broad at fine leg.

Back-bender of the day
On a merciless surface, England were only going to get out of it what they put in, and so all eyes turned to their tallest bowler, Broad, whose hit-the-deckability (to coin a phrase) proved a threat throughout two marathon spells. He ran in hard for nine consecutive overs either side of lunch, then 14 off the reel in the mid-afternoon, when the shine had vanished off the old ball and opportunities were at their scarcest. But he still responded with two vital wickets, both courtesy of short deliveries. His victims, Mathew Sinclair and Grant Elliott, might not be playing too many more Tests in the near future, judging by how poorly they negotiated his lifters, but Broad has undoubtedly proved his worth in this match. Not least with his batting at No. 8.

Tenuous analogy of the day
At 222 for 5 at the close of play, New Zealand are down, if not entirely out of this game and the series. However, England will not begin celebrating just yet, not while a strokeplayer of the power of Brendon McCullum remains at the crease. Six years ago in Christchurch, on England's last tour, the first Test unfolded in a spookily similar fashion to this one. England batted first and slumped to 0 for 2 (Six years later, they made 4 for 3). They were rescued by a century from their No. 4 batsman, who scored nearly 50% of the innings runs (Nasser Hussain, 106 out of 228, Kevin Pietersen 129 out of 253). New Zealand then collapsed to a seven-for from a Yorkshire-born swing bowler (Matthew Hoggard 7 for 63, Ryan Sidebottom 7 for 47), and conceded a lead of 80-odd runs (81, 85). England batted again on a sun-baked pitch, and declared on 468 for 6 (Thorpe 200, Flintoff 137) and 467 for 7 (Strauss 177, Bell 110). New Zealand set 550 and 552 respectively to win. At one stage at Christchurch, New Zealand had slipped to 252 for 6, but then came Nathan Astle's unforgettable 222 from 153 balls, and a monstrous dose of English jitters.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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