A new venue for World cricket, a new opener, a new coach…the same old shit. England arrived in New Zealand to headlines dominated by Prince Andrew. Within a few days we had seen this game dominated by a slow, lingering BJ before ending with a disappointing Root. This was the first game for the new reign of Chris Silverwood. Silvers v the Silver Ferns. This Test was played on a docile pitch – located in the Bay of Plenty of runs. It was the start of an overseas series in New Zealand. This is the review of the First Test from Mount Maunganui…
|Bay of Plenty (of cheap gags about Prince Andrew)|
England brought in Sibley to partner Burns. Like Prince Andrew, he wasn’t a regular in Surrey but since moving to Warwickshire, he has scored more than any Brummie sportsman since Harvey Price was conceived. Pope returned too. After a couple of Tests last year before being discarded, you did wonder if this was going to be the briefest career of Pope since John Paul I popped his clogs after 30 days or so? The real question would be if England could go big and score match winning hundreds as opposed to quick 70’s. Michael Vaughan seemed to think so. I wasn’t too sure.
The Kiwis left out Lockie Ferguson. Unlike a certain someone whose name might be mentioned once or twice in this piece, I thought Fergie would blow us away.
England started and were more circumspect in their outlook than they were in the Bayliss reign. This was slow lovemaking with plenty of foreplay, as opposed to a quick wham, bam, thank you ma’am. As The Beatles (someone else associated with an Epstein who died mysteriously) told us…Slow Down. Dominic hung around but needs to work out where his off stump is – otherwise he will become the Nicker of Sibley (c.Eye Jay). He scored a twenty in the Bay of Plenty.
Denly came in and was the more cautious of the two Joes. Prince Andrew, a man known to frequent the Woking branch of Pizza Express would only describe Root’s dismissal as being Sloppy, Giuseppe.
So it was Stokes to the rescue versus New Zealand. Déjà vu. A battling 91 before he was caught by a worldie from Ross Taylor, along with a 74 from Denly were the mainstays of the innings but yet again the same issues of not going big when you are in, came back to haunt England. 350 may have looked ok but when it was a 500 pitch, it was so undercooked it was verging on botulism.
When the Kiwis batted, it was all going so well for England. Williamson had been removed and Nicholls had been clanged on the head. The surface which was slower than Inzamam between the wickets, would surely start to misbehave. Wouldn’t it? It was then that the game changed.
England, similar to the political career of Bill Clinton, were undone by a BJ.
The Kiwi keeper, Watling sucked the life out of England as a marathon session at the crease saw him amass a double hundred. De Grandhomme and Santner were the hands that accompanies every memorable, slow BJ. England were poor, Broad was tidy but didn’t bowl at the stumps enough, Curran was ok. Archer was off the pace and Leach was tidy without being threatening. Root looked the pick of the bowlers, which says a lot. It was a pitch that was boring. At one point they played James Blunt over the speakers. England must have thought it was rhyming slang for the bloke who prepared this track.
|BJ Watling...sucked the life out of England|
After England had been bored to submission the batsmen were set just over a day to save the game, 260 odd behind.
The start wasn’t great. Santner picked up three wickets including an outrageous bit of shit cricket from Burns, getting a top edge, sweeping across the line with two overs to go in the day. At that moment you knew that England were like Mark Knopfler - they were in Dire Straits. Or, more to the point, like Prince Andrew - they were in deep shit. The next day Root played catching practice to gulley again, Stokes chopped on but Pope was the icing on the proverbial cake of brain dead dismissals by toe ending one to cover.
Jofra was then abused racially by all accounts both whilst batting and when he walked off. The Kiwi cricket public, a very knowledgeable crowd normally by the way, will be mortified that one of their number has been such a dick. If this happens again, to any side in the world, they should walk off the pitch.
England were done. Outplayed yet again abroad, sunk like the Rainbow Warrior, up the road in 1985.
Many questions abound for England. With the Kookaburra ball, that goes dead at 20 overs, Curran at 78mph and Broad at 79mph are not effective. Surely Wood or Mahmood has to accompany Jofra? It might not always work but at present it is never working. The skipper needs some runs desperately – he is no doubt pleased that Jose Mourinho isn’t a middle order batsmen and Daniel Levy isn't the chairman of selectors.