Two pieces of news, neither of them good I’m afraid. The Lancashire Telegraph has unearthed more than 50 “abhorrent” tweets posted some years ago by Lancashire players. And the sodding virus is on the march again. If all that is too depressing, go here for live coverage of Nadal v Djokovic at the French Open. The first five games have all been won by the same player.
Thanks for your company and correspondence, and we’ll be back in the morning, when Tanya Aldred will be seeing whether Dan Lawrence can take another wicket.
Can’t quite believe that Lawrence’s allsorts have made the breakthrough? See it for yourself here. His face! Just look at his face.
Close: New Zealand 229-3 (Taylor 46)
And that was the last ball of the day. Well bowled Dan Lawrence, and well batted Will Young – he was not always fluent but he was patient, efficient, and wise beyond his years. It was England’s morning, as Wood and Lawrence had fun with the bat, but it’s been New Zealand’s day: they’re only 74 behind, they’ve coped with a formidable hour of swing bowling from Broad and Anderson, and as long as they don’t crumble to the new ball in the morning, they’re well placed to take the game by the scruff. Devon Conway, again, led the way: he missed out on another hundred, but not in terms of his Test average, which now stands at 101.
Wicket!! Young c Pope b Lawrence 82 (NZ 229-3)
It’s worked! Lawrence gets his first Test wicket and it’s a classic off-spinner’s dismissal – drawing Will Young forward, turning the ball, inducing a bit of bat-pad and giving Ollie Pope a nice low catch.
76th over: New Zealand 225-2 (Young 78, Taylor 46) Say what you like about part-time spinners, they’re good for the over rate. We’re going to finish before 6.30! Root bowls another over, round the wicket, into the rough, with two short legs, like a very gentle form of bodyline.
75th over: New Zealand 222-2 (Young 76, Taylor 45) With six overs to kill before the new ball, Root turns to his other part-time spinner, Dan Lawrence. He’s bowling with a leg-spinner’s action, though what’s coming out appears to be off-spin. He finds some turn, but doesn’t trouble anyone except the scorer. Two to each batsman.
74th over: New Zealand 218-2 (Young 72, Taylor 43) A single or two off Stone, who gets a short ball past Young’s bat, but only because he played too early. In a stand, the beer-beaker snake is now about 30 yards long and snaking all the way up from the stalls to the circle.
73rd over: New Zealand 216-2 (Young 72, Taylor 43) Root tries to give the ball some more flight and ends up presenting Taylor with a freebie, which is duly flicked away for four.
72nd over: New Zealand 212-2 (Young 72, Taylor 39) Stone is bowling well within himself now, around 82mph. Is he Robinson in disguise?
Lawrence Booth, once of this parish, makes a good point on Twitter. “I like how Taylor has scrapped in this innings,” he writes. “He’s looked awful at times, but he’s still there, batting New Zealand into a position of strength. A lesson in there for some of England’s batsmen.”
71st over: New Zealand 211-2 (Young 72, Taylor 38) Root concedes a couple of singles, but also beats Taylor with his arm ball. He’s so nearly a decent bowler. Is there a deal to be done here? You don’t have to be captain any more, as long as you spend some of the time that now goes into PR polishing your bowling.
70th over: New Zealand 209-2 (Young 71, Taylor 37) Wood comes off, and so once again, Root puts on ELO: Turn to Stone. Taylor is quite happy to sing along, cutting a long hop for four.
69th over: New Zealand 205-2 (Young 71, Taylor 33) Taylor slogs Root, not very well – it goes off the bottom of the bat and midwicket again thinks for a moment that he’s got a catch, only to see it go over his head.
“The Lions,” says Derek Stocker, “missing the HEARTS of Archer & Curran.” Yes – and also missing Ed Smith, with his sharp eye for players, like Curran, who have the knack of making things happen.
68th over: New Zealand 200-2 (Young 71, Taylor 28) Our old friend Extras is on fire: this time’s four byes, as a rapid lifter from Wood swings after passing the stumps and gives poor Bracey no chance. Taylor brings up the 200 by fending, more happily than before, and picking up a single.
67th over: New Zealand 195-2 (Young 71, Taylor 27) Root to Young, and it’s a maiden. Root may not have threatened much, but his figures are the kind of thing you might well get from Leach: 9-3-25-0.
“You say,” writes Felix Wood, “that swatting a half-tracker for four is the sort of shot that Crawley plays when he’s in form – but isn’t that sort of the problem? Looks a million dollars when the going is easy.” Know what you mean, but it still seems a bit harsh. All Crawley’s Test innings have been in the top three, and if scoring 267 against Pakistan was easy, everybody would have done it.
66th over: New Zealand 195-2 (Young 71, Taylor 27) Wood continues, but changes tack and tries a bit of bombardment. It brings four leg byes, a few singles and one moral victory as Taylor plays a hurried fend. The partnership has reached 58: sorry, I missed the fifty, in all the lack of excitement.
65th over: New Zealand 188-2 (Young 69, Taylor 26) Right on cue, Root turns to… spin. In other words, himself. The closest he gets to some joy is when he floats up a full toss and almost lures Taylor into a chip to midwicket. “New Zealand’s game plan,” says David Lloyd, ominously, “is to bat only once.”
64th over: New Zealand 185-2 (Young 67, Taylor 25) Root reacts to those glances by posting a leg slip for Wood. Young takes no notice and flicks to fine leg, where Stone pulls off a tumbling stop. That’s the best thing Stone has done since the ball to Young that led to the dropped catch by Root.
Nasser Hussain is saying, as a few people have been, that England may go with an all-seam attack for the Ashes. He refers to it as four seamers, but it would actually be five, with Stokes back. Say it ain’t so, Joe.
63rd over: New Zealand 182-2 (Young 64, Taylor 25) Taylor tips Stone round the corner for four, off the glove. It can’t have hurt because he immediately does it again, with the bat, from middle-and-off. Is he finally coming back into form?
62nd over: New Zealand 172-2 (Young 63, Taylor 16) Wood keeps Young quiet. These two quicks have been disciplined, conceding only nine runs off five overs, but England might swap some of that thrift for a breakthrough. Speculate to accumulate.
61st over: New Zealand 171-2 (Young 63, Taylor 15) Stone tries some chin music at Young, but it just comes out as waist music. It sits up and gets swatted for four with the greatest of ease. That’s the kind of shot Zak Crawley plays when he’s in form.
60th over: New Zealand 167-2 (Young 59, Taylor 15) A couple of nudges to leg off Wood, and that’s drinks, with honours even for the past 80 minutes, but NZ sitting pretty all told.
On Twitter, Dave Buckley picks up on Gary Naylor’s point about field placing. “It makes you fear that when Smith and Marnus are batting at the end of the year… no plans will see them score 1500 runs.” Ha. Unless Jofra is fit and firing, and Robinson is out of the doghouse.
59th over: New Zealand 164-2 (Young 58, Taylor 13) Ah, Stone was changing ends, so Anderson gets his breather and we’ve got a double dose of high speed. Stone manages a maiden, partly through bowling wide.
Brian Withington’s nod to his mates elicits a reply. “And a shout-out of west stand gratitude to Brian too,” says David Clarke, “as the sun comes out to play for the last 21 overs! (Hopefully!)”
58th over: New Zealand 164-2 (Young 58, Taylor 13) Olly Stone goes off and Mark Wood comes back with an over that is quite unlike his last one. No bombing, no pull shots, only one run.
56th over: New Zealand 162-2 (Young 58, Taylor 11) Young upper-cuts Stone for four, knowing he can easily clear third slip. And then he pounces on the over-correction and picks up four more, too easily, with a leg glance. Stone, playing a Test in front of his home crowd for the first time, has been a shadow of the highly promising bowler he was at Chennai in February.
55th over: New Zealand 154-2 (Young 50, Taylor 11) So no luck for Anderson, but another maiden to add to his collection. He has five today, from 17 overs.
“I’ve always been amazed,” says Gary Naylor, “that Joe Root seems to set the same fields regardless of whether the batsman has been in for a ball or a session. I’d have fielders all over Ross Taylor, definitely a short leg and leg slip, but no. Same fields as for Will Young.” Yes – often, Root doesn’t even seem very interested in field placings. I just hope he never becomes a commentator.
53rd over: New Zealand 154-2 (Young 50, Taylor 11) Joe Root takes Broad off, reluctantly I suspect, and opts for the Connor-Withington manoeuvre: Turn to Stone. Ross Taylor, out of nick but canny enough to see that this could bring an escape from his torment, flays a short ball for four.
53rd over: New Zealand 149-2 (Young 50, Taylor 6) Young picks the inswinger from Anderson and nudges into the on side to reach a fine fifty off 132 balls – not as commanding as Conway, but coming out with some good tunes on second fiddle.
52nd over: New Zealand 147-2 (Young 49, Taylor 5) Broad beats Taylor again, this time with one of the greatest jaffas never to take a wicket – lifting, swinging late, leaving him. Broad awards himself the cartoon surprised face that he normally reserves for a great catch by Stokes. Taylor pulls a face that’s about three emojis in one – incredulity, bewilderment, and sly satisfaction at merely surviving.
51st over: New Zealand 145-2 (Young 49, Taylor 3) Young, who seems to have a wise head on his young shoulders, shows Taylor how it’s done, waiting for the outswing from Anderson and cover-driving for four.
“Hi Tim,” says Johnny Cleary on Twitter. “Have been following Crawley in the Kent team, he appears to be a walking wicket with no form, is it the same Crawley? If it is, why would you pick someone out of form?” Because you never know when they’ll snap out of it. And because England, until Stokes and Buttler come back, are a bit short of batting. The rest for the IPL players, while well-intentioned, has turned into a bit of a shemozzle.
50th over: New Zealand 141-2 (Young 45, Taylor 3) Broad’s turn to beat Taylor – and then he does it again. There are people in this crowd who will one day tell their grandchildren they saw Broad and Anderson on form – assuming they are sober enough to remember it.
“I’m not sure if Alistair Connor’s request quite constitutes ‘popular demand’,” says Brian Withington. Ha. “But I’m back anyway and very grateful to him. Shout-out to David and Lucy in the West Stand, too. ELO and I give you a troubled Joe Root contemplating a bowling change at a subdued Edgbaston:
The Hollies Stand half empty now
(Covid rules won’t allow no more)
And so the songs are way down low
A sound that flows into my mind
(The echoes of the daylight)
Of everything that is alive
(In my blue world)
I turn to Stone when Wood is done
I turn to Stone
I turn to Stone, when you comin’ on
I can’t go on
I turn to Stone when Jimmy’s gone
I turn to Stone
I turn to Stone, when you comin’ on
Dan can’t go on
I turn to Stone when Stu is done
I turn to Stone
I turn to Stone, when you comin’ on
I can’t go on.”
Have we hit peak OBO?
49th over: New Zealand 140-2 (Young 44, Taylor 3) Taylor manages a second scoring shot, but only off the edge, past third slip. And then Anderson bowls him a ball so good that he can’t even get an edge on it – spearing in, swinging away, too good to be effective.
48th over: New Zealand 138-2 (Young 44, Taylor 1) Thanks the the change of ball, and a most unexpected gift from Conway, Anderson and Broad have now got what they want: swing, pressure, parsimony verging on paralysis. Young plays out a maiden from Broad, who now has the very Broadish figures of 13-6-19-2.
47th over: New Zealand 138-2 (Young 44, Taylor 1) Anderson is in the mood now, testing Taylor along the corridor. The average swing, according to the Sky stats machine, has gone from 0.6 degrees to 1.4 since the change of ball.
46th over: New Zealand 138-2 (Young 44, Taylor 1) Broad is whipping up the crowd, as if they need any encouragement. Ross Taylor, cool as a Conway, gets off the mark with a clip to leg. The wicket brought an unlikely end to a formidable stand of 122 between Conway and Young. And perhaps justice was done, because England thought they had Conway caught Crawley bowled Broad hours ago.
Wicket!! CONWAY c Crawley b Broad 80 (NZ 137-2)
Out of nowhere, Conway has gone. Broad gave him a juicy half-volley on his pads, he flicked it instinctively, and failed to spot Zak Crawley lurking at deep square leg. That’s the way to get shot of him!
45th over: New Zealand 137-1 (Conway 80, Young 44) At the other end it’s Jimmy Anderson. He may have 162 Tests’ experience, but he serves up something that could be from the bleached tearaway he was when he started out: short and wide, a ball so bad that Young will be disappointed to have cut it for three.
44th over: New Zealand 133-1 (Conway 79, Young 41) Broad gets the session going and Conway tucks him for a single, as if he was tucking away a cucumber sandwich. Broad then bowls a no-ball, but he’s getting some swing and he beats Young’s prod – in fact, he finds the edge, but the ball bounces in front of James Bracey, and not even Broad looks very bothered.
V Diddy has seen my retort and come back for more. “If I wanted comedy, I’d re-watch Bracey’s innings!” Ha.
“You said Root has turned to Wood, not to Stone,” says Alistair Connor. “I suggest we turn to Brian Withington, who is probably already penning a version of that Seventies nightmare Turn to Stone by ELO.” Nightmare?
Do have a look, if you haven’t already, at the photo down the page at 15:21. It’s not only a superb action shot of an inflatable piece of fruit, but also a majestic example of the caption writer’s art. Hats off to the unknown sub-editor.
“There is something meditative about watching Devon Conway play, especially during times like these,” says Abhijato Sensarma. “He is a cricketing manifestation of zen, untroubled by the stature of the pitch as well as the opposition. I’m sure his game has deficiencies that will be picked apart by analysts in the time to come, while his numbers plunge from this unsustainable high. But this moment in time, and this start to his career, need to be acknowledged for being the miracles they are.”
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