New Zealand v England 2007-08 / News

New Zealand v England, 3rd Test, Napier, 1st day

Old head on new shoulders

Andrew Miller in Napier

March 22, 2008

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Tim Southee celebrates his first Test wicket. the second followed almost immediately © Getty Images
Debut of the day
New Zealand like to blood their cricketers young. Maybe not as young as the subcontinental nations, but they've still had five 18-year-old debutants in their history, including the current captain, Daniel Vettori. Therefore at 19 years and 102 days, Tim Southee was an old sweat by comparison, and he bowled like one as well, with guile, accuracy and stamina, and at a waspish mid-80mph pace that gave all of England's batsmen the hurry-up. At the recent Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia, he took 17 wickets at 6.64, and today he didn't alter his mindset one iota despite the apparent step-up in class. Within his first three overs, he had claimed the wickets of two England captains, Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss, and then struck again with his second delivery with the new ball to remove none other than Kevin Pietersen.

Innings of the day
Pietersen has been in the doldrums of late, his mindset seemingly muddled by his side's ongoing failings. He hadn't passed fifty in any of his previous ten innings of the winter, but today he ended his drought in the most emphatic manner imaginable. This time, his hand was forced by the chaos going on around him. England were 4 for 3 in the blink of an eye, so rather than mope around in a repeat of his Hamilton dirge, Pietersen decided to cut loose on what - contrary to appearances - was a superb batting track. At the time of his dismissal, his superb 129 from 208 balls had comprised 62% of the team total, which placed it on a par with Graham Gooch's famous 154 not out at Headingley in 1991. Its ultimate place in the annals will be decided by the manner in which England respond over the next four days.

Shot of the day
Pietersen's six count has been on the wane in recent years. He's managed a meagre eight in 18 Tests since the start of the Ashes in 2006-07, which is fewer than he'd managed in any single season before that. But when he does decide to take the aerial route, they really do stay hit. Daniel Vettori discovered that in the 80th over of the innings, when Pietersen dropped to one knee and belted him onto the roof of the Western stand. With the new ball looming large, it looked as though there might be two ball changes within the space of an over, but up jumped a useful chap from the groundstaff to retrieve the errant missile from its resting place.

Debut of the day Mk 2
There can't have been many occasions in recent Test history when, as an attacking option, the wicketkeeper has stood up to a genuine medium-pacer inside the first 20 overs. But such was the luxury granted to Grant Elliott, the other debutant in New Zealand's ranks. As Jacob Oram has spent the last two Tests demonstrating, defence is the best form of attack against this England line-up, and so Elliott proved with a probing maiden spell of 5-1-10-1. He offered the batsmen nothing as he adopted Oram's wicket-to-wicket approach, then claimed the scalp of Ian Bell with arguably the first hittable ball of his spell. Bell completely muffed the shot, however, as his eyes lit up like a starving man, and two newbies had made vital incisions of the opening morning of the match.

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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