Monday, 25 May 2015

Review of the 1st Test v New Zealand

What a Test match. Positive cricket thrilled a partisan, yet knowledgeable crowd at the Home of Cricket as England finally won having been in boxing parlance, floored in the first round. New Zealand played their part in a game which was a fantastic advertisement for cricket, as England won just eight overs from the finish by 124 runs. NW8 may be the part of the world where Vanessa Feltz resides, but it was the English cricketing public gorging on a five day binge, as this game was the lobster thermidor of cricket. This was tales from the unexpected from the start, until Moeen Ali caught Boult down at third man to win the game. Here is our review of the brilliant, wonderful first Test match versus New Zealand.

The Home of Cricket
The game started with England bringing in Adam Lyth and Mark Wood for their debuts. Lord's looked a picture, as sunshine greeted the first day. The outfield cut into stripes, interrupted in the middle by a shorter cut, some would say a Mown Alley that produced five days of scintillating cricket. One thing not so pleasing on the eye though is the new short sleeve sweater worn by England. Back in the seventies, those who couldn't afford a cable knit sweater would sport a cricket jumper knitted by their nan. This looked like one of those with the top half smooth, before going cable knit further down, as if someone had run out of decent wool and replacing it with velcro. Lord's has seen plenty of crap fashions with the red jeans, but surely this tops the lot?

Wood was playing in only his twenty fifth first class game and touched 93mph at times. He smiles, is a good laugh, trots around on his horse at times, and is known as a lunatic. Just the type of person this side needs. New Zealand, the third best side in the world, won the toss and in Brendon McCullum they have a positive, exciting captain and it was great to see him backing his bowlers. Lyth soon went, Captain Cook became Captain Hook,  the Ballance tipped New Zealand's way as the Bell tolled. England were 30-4. Enter Joe Root and Ben Stokes. Counter attacking, not fearful, smiling and giving it back to the opposition, this was cricket at its best. If Paul Farbrace has told them to go out with no fear, he deserves huge credit for this turn around. Both Root and Stokes got nineties.

In Boult, Southee and Henry, the Kiwis have three fine seamers. Pitching the ball up, they bowled a better length than England and move the ball in the air and off the deck. Surely if they had a fourth they would have won this game? As it was they didn't and apart from the two northern ginger lads mentioned above, Jos Buttler chipped in, as did Moeen Ali. If a certain other M Ali had floated like a butterfly, this one has floated all over the English batting order as he came in at eight in this game.


Southee...class act

This was also the game of sexual innuendo. We had a Boult, Wood, a BJ and a Root, plenty of time at the crease, some people calling for the end of Bell and at one point, television umpire Rod Tucker (that is not Cockney rhyming slang by the way) calling for the "money shot".

When the Kiwis batted, a brilliant innings of 132 from Kane Williamson underpinned the imposing 523 by the visitors. Not many teams lose after setting such a figure. It needed something special from England just to save the Test.

That came from the skipper. Cook may still have a lot to learn with setting fields and using his bowlers, but leading from the front in terms of runs scored is something he doesn't lack. His twenty seventh Test ton was one of his best, as he had to work hard against a quality attack on a pitch with a bit in it, under slate grey North London skies. They even had to turn the floodlights on, no doubt pissing off the St John's Wood residents. Root chipped in with another stylish knock and looked to be enjoying himself. A great knock by a great bat, someone has to tell young Joe that he doesn't have to buy a jug for his team mates for hundreds at professional level. Yorkshire habits die hard.


Root...jug avoidance

It was Cook's day though as his team mates applauded an emotional century from the balcony. Joined by man of the match Ben Stokes, these two took the game away from New Zealand. Stokes scored the fastest ever hundred at Lord's, and it was hailed with the Root salute from Joe, in reference to Marlon Samuel's send off in the Caribbean. With Newcastle United staying in the Premier League, it was a decent day for those from the North East. Southee kept banging it in at him, as his bowling average went Northee. Boult picked up five wickets.

On the morning of the last day, intriguing news came through that England have gone for Trevor Bayliss as Head Coach. Written on these pages a year ago as our choice to get the gig ahead of Peter Moores, now I would have preferred Gillespie, but Bayliss will do a fine job. Back to this game...

England needed some quick wickets as a near capacity crowd on the fifth day roared England on. Jimmy and Broad obliged as the Kiwis were 12-3 but enter that man Stokes again to clean up the obdurate Williamson, followed by skipper McCullum first ball. If England loved dear old medium Doris Stokes, they adored medium quick Ben Stokes. Watling and Corey Anderson looked like they might save the game, but Cook used his bowlers well, and Wood and Root removed them.


Ben Stokes...Man of the Match

Broad came back and had Boult caught at third man by Ali, and it was game over.

A thrilling Test match and both sides deserve huge credit for a positive match. Lord's was rocking and the London cricket public backed this England team to the hilt. As for England, there are some seriously positive signs. A young side coming through, if we play this aggressive brand of cricket against the Aussies, then we have a chance. We weren't scared, we didn't roll over and it was great to see. We scored quickly, we counter punched and it was a cracking match.

Roll on Friday, and on to Headingley. If it is anything like this one, then we are on for a treat.


3 comments:

  1. Great game indeed, and good to see England win playing positive aggressive cricket. Swapping Stokes and Ali in the batting order looks to be a masterstroke by Farbrace. They were probably helped a bit by McCullum attacking all the time, and (as you said) that makes New Zealand great to watch, unless your name is Fred Boycott (and a good team). They played a full part in an excellent test.

    On an unrelated note, Cricinfo is saying that Shiv Chanderpaul has been dropped by West Indies. Shiv started his career in 1994 when WI were the no 1 side in the world, and must be the best batsman in a losing team since, I dunno, George Headley? Will you do a piece on him? Must be about the last of the 1990's survivors to leave test cricket, I think.

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