The second test was a heartbreaker. It was almost a complete performance from my England side, perfectly timed. Then we dropped a catch and it caused the heavens to open and we could only draw. So we’re still 1-0 down. On we go to the third test and there are decisions to be made. I’ve had enough of Goughy and his understudy Dean Headley. Vince Wells is injured, which is obviously a disaster, so I’ve opted for Adam Hollioake and Matthew Bulbeck. We have to lose a batsman so it’s unfortunate for Crawley, who did well last time out but is out of form in comparison. Angus Fraser is into the attack too. Tuffers keeps his place on account of being the only spinner of any sort of notoriety.
Looks like another dodgy set of conditions but as ever I really don’t want to bat last against Vettori.
New Zealand have rang the changes too and by that I mean they have made one change. O’Connor is out and H Davis is in. No idea. Let’s have it.
We lose the toss and we are bowling. Aggers predicts the pitch will be a beauty, full of runs. That seems like a bad toss to lose.
Despite the early success of getting Bell for a relatively modest 32, it’s then hell. Horne and Fleming pile on the runs, and I mean pile. Eventually, Caddick manages to hit Horne on the hand and he goes off injured for 145. That sparks a bit of an upturn in our fortunes, with Harris out for a cheap 11, McMillan just 2 and eventually Fleming 150. As usual, Sinclair is able to dig in but the unlikely figure of Adam Hollioake clears up the tail by taking 4 wickets. It’s a strange game sometimes. 469 is a huge total.
Caddick and Hollioake the obvious picks, though Tuffers being wicketless again is a shame. Wonder if Ashley Giles is any good yet?
Atherton and Stewart put on 87 to get us off to a solid start but Vettori finds a disgusting amount of turn for this stage in the test to remove Stewart. Atherton and Hick though, wow. They don’t care if the ball is going sideways, it’s all dealt with on their way to a hundred each. Sadly both depart within a few overs, Athers for 131 and Hick for 102. Ramprakash adds 44 but Hollioake continues to show he was a good pick by scoring 91 in a useful partnership with Bicknell. We pass 500. We’re good. A first innings lead could be useful.
I tell Andy Caddick to just be aggressive as possible. Bowl fast and straight. He’s like a hungry animal. Horne and Bell are both removed cheaply but then Fleming and Harris just laugh at him and send New Zealand into a lead. Caddick returns to remove Fleming before Bulbeck’s left arm medium pace accounts for Harris’ leg stump. 159/4 and the game is finely poised. We could really ram it home now, but will we?
No, in short. Even after getting them to 212/6, Young & Doull put on 81 painstaking runs.
The declaration is a relief but we need to try and knock 240 off in two sessions.
It’s a steady start but once again Stewart can’t build on it. He departs for 21 and although Atherton and Hick rebuild, the runs need to be quicker. Atherton and Hick both fall in the mid-20s and all of a sudden it’s backs to the wall. New Zealand smell blood and with Vettori tieing us in knots and Sewell still causing mayhem with his left arm pace we’re soon 103/6 with an hour to go.
We can’t win from here so we try to settle for the draw. Bicknell keeps his head whilst everyone else runs around screaming. We escape with a draw with only two wickets left in hand. Crikey.
Sigh. We can’t win the series now but we’ll go into the 4th and final test looking to at least snatch a draw. It’s pathetic really and I thought the World Cup was bad. See you there?