Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Review of the 2nd Test v New Zealand

The second Test match v New Zealand was a strange one and provided many talking points amongst the games scribes. Were we right to not to enforce the follow on? Did we bat too slowly? Is Compton the right man to open against the Aussies? If only we were discussing the great batting of Joe Root, or the fine bowling of Graeme Swann who picked up his first ten wicket haul in a Test match, but instead we are all talking about the conservative captaincy of Alastair Cook, almost so conservative he could be UKIP!

Alastair Cook

I love a Headingley Test. Memories of Willis steaming down the hill in 81, Botham's 149 or even Butcher's brilliant 173 not out all came flooding back. History abounds here and even with the new Carnegie stand, described as one local as "Gaudi, when he were pissed", over looking the ground, it provides atmosphere and often a great game.

The first day was a complete wash out, so the second day was the first. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow provided a bit of Yorkshire pride as the darlings of the Western Terrace scored 104 and 64 respectively. To hear the chants of "Root, Root, Root" and "Yorkshire" would have music to their cherubic ears! Root is an amazing talent and his shots off the back foot are awesome. Bairstow, less talented naturally but with northern grit also provided solid support as England managed a respectable 354. Trent Boult picked up a Michelle.

New Zealand batted and couldn't quite hit the follow on mark thanks to Finny blasting their top order out and Swann gaining some extravagant turn out of the left armers footholes. This was where many questions were raised and even the Middle Stump lads varied in their opinions.

Compdog...subject of some vile comments

Should Cook have followed on? No, because it gave the likes of Compdog and Bell to have a much needed bat. There was also the question that the pitch was seriously deteriorating and whoever batted fourth on it was going to struggle.

Should you use these games against New Zealand as a warm up for the Aussies? Liam thinks yes definitely, but I am not so sure. If the ECB are going to charge full dollar for them, then treat them properly. Only 6000 Yorkshiremen, and ladies of course were there on a Bank Holiday Monday. If a Yorkshireman isn't getting value for money, you'll know about it!

As it was Compton looked edgy and failed. There were some horrible comments flying around Twitter about the Ciderman, and he deserves better. Compton should not get dropped. Even though the dressing room does not pick the side he is clearly well liked and thought of by his peers and he is a class act. If he was five years younger there wouldn’t be so much chat of axing the Somerset man. If he was to be replaced then think of the pressure on whoever replaces him?

There was a train of thought that Cook and Trott were getting in some practice for the Ashes. Cook batting as if to win a game, and Trott as if to save one! I have seen more interesting episodes of the Thorn Birds than watching Trott bat on Sunday night.

Trott...digin and plod on as Fred Boycott would say!

Then on the Monday England batted on and on and on...449 they required, which was as many as they had scored all series. South Africans, or southern Africans in this case can be quite cagey and prefer not to lose the game first before winning it. Think of some of Jacques Kallis' knocks over the years. Michael Vaughan would also have to coerce Duncan Fletcher into some declarations, and I wonder if this was Flower or Cook's decision? Whoever or whatever it was ponderous cricket and if England want to be the best they have to be bolder and more attacking. The slow scoring and the belated declaration could have cost them a Test win if the rain had come down harder on the Monday.

Ditto, conservatism seeped through with some of the field placings. When a side needs 449 to win, please don't put three men on the fence? Have a silly point/silly mid off in to Swann and say "Drive me through that vacant gap". That is how off spinners get wickets, by bowling people through the gate. McCullum despite his limited attack has proved a far more versatile skipper, one who thinks on his feet and should be applauded.

So England won 2-0 in the end. New Zealand were a decent side and good opponents both home and away. They will surely rise up the rankings and have the basis of a good young team. A very good captain, Williamson (despite an appalling hair cut), Taylor and Rutherford are decent batters and Boult, Southee and Bracewell are all good seamers. Chuck in a couple of others and hopefully they will get up the rankings.

As for England, bigger fish await in the Aussies. I hope we are ready.

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