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'The ball was there to hit and I just hit it to the wrong place' - Jamie Overton rues the ton that got away

But fast bowler believes England fightback leaves team in 'box seat'

Jamie Overton acknowledges the applause as he walks back for 97, England vs New Zealand, 3rd Test, Headingley, 3rd day, June 25, 2022

Jamie Overton acknowledges the applause as he walks back for 97  •  PA Photos/Getty Images

After falling agonisingly short of a Test century on debut, then returning with a fiery spell in the final session, Jamie Overton was refreshingly philosophical at the end of day three of the third Test at Headingley.
Both efforts contributed to England's cause, ensuring a first innings of 360 for a lead of 31, before cutting New Zealand down to 168 for five late on. The tourists led by 137 at stumps, with in-form batters Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell at the crease.
After an initial spell of five overs for 17, Overton came out after tea and immediately took the wicket of Tom Latham, who had looked back in form in reaching 76 before succumbing to a misjudgement outside off stump from round the wicket. Overton then hit Devon Conway in the head with the very next ball, setting the tone for what was a engaging four-wicket session for England.
However the pain earlier of falling for 97 earlier in the day was the main point of conversation when it came to Overton's work on Saturday. He was crestfallen after nervously waving at a wide delivery from Trent Boult which nestled into the hands of Mitchell at first slip. By stumps, however, he had just about made his peace with the three runs he did not get.
"Obviously I was very disappointed getting out on 97," he said. "But me and Jonny put us in a great position [a partnership of 241 - a new record for the seventh wicket]. And that knock from Broady (42) coming in and getting us into a lead has put us in a great place going into the second innings. It was obviously disappointing but I feel I've contributed to the team more than enough."
Understandably, Overton did not get the best night's sleep on Friday, having come in on 89 not out, and that reflected in a quiet start the following morning, in which he only managed eight runs in the 40 minutes before his dismissal.
"I was tossing and turning for quite a lot," he admitted. "I'm always going to be a little bit nervous but I felt like I was in sort of in a great place this morning and just didn't quite get over the line. The ball was there to hit and I just hit it to the wrong place."
Bairstow, who was eventually dismissed for 162, accompanied Overton for a portion of his slow walk-off, putting his arm around him and offering some consoling words: "He just said, soak it all up, you played a great knock."
Overton was good by those words come the evening. England's middle session lacked a little something, allowing New Zealand to move into a strong position of 125 for one at tea, and a lead of 94. With the help of the crowd, they responded with far more urgency and endeavour to take four for 43 in the 18.5 overs they were able to get in before the rain.
"We chatted at tea that potentially the afternoon session wasn't that great for us," Overton said. "We obviously didn't go for loads of runs but we didn't feel like we bowled and fielded the way we wanted to, so coming out after tea it was just trying to enjoy ourselves, put the New Zealand guys under pressure, and that's what we did. The crowd obviously got involved a little bit and we tried to gee them up because that always helps us as well."
There is still work to be done, especially given how Mitchell and Blundell have performed - in this match alone, never mind the series, with 109 and 55 in the first innings, respectively. Overton, though, feels England are ahead.
"I think that last session put us right in the box seat. We would like to go back out there at the end but couldn't quite get out there with the with the covers needing time to get them off.
"But yeah, we're in a great position going into tomorrow and hopefully we can get the two early wickets, the two key wickets. But we feel like we're in a good place. And if we can get those two early, then we're in a great place to win the game."

Vithushan Ehantharajah is a sportswriter for ESPNcricinfo