After the first Test at Dunedin whimpered to a draw, not least because the pitch was like a road but with the bounce of a freshly laundered duvet, attention turns to the Basin Reserve at Wellington. The build-up thus far has suggested that it’s a pitch that may convince the most successful tosser to bowl first.
It sounds like New Zealand will continue with the bowling attack that did so well in the first half of the first Test – which assumes the trio of seamers have recovered Peter Siddle-style from their endeavours to dismiss Steven Finn. The Wellington conditions often favour the quicker bowlers and there’s meant to be a stiff breeze, so perhaps Bruce Martin could be replaced by Doug Bracewell, assuming the latter isn’t ruled out due to inadvertently slipping on a beer-soaked dancefloor.
One expects the batting to be unchanged – though as mentioned in the 51allout podcast, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Dean Brownlie will all be hoping to actually proceed to a decent score this time, rather than getting in and promptly getting out.
Now that Nick Compton is inked in as Alastair Cook’s opening partner (unless, and given his swift transformation from zero to hero one shouldn’t rule this out, he is picked as the next Pope), there are few if any debates about the England side. So let’s go wild and say that a run of low scores and a slight knee injury means that Kevin Pietersen is once again the man the spotlight is on. Therefore, whilst the punters who enjoy writing comments on the BBC website will be salivating over their keyboards at the prospect of him failing, we reckon he’ll plunder a big hundred here.
This would be an opportune moment to reflect on how our bets for the first Test went?
Matt H: Although I won back a total of £15 for the draw, I wasted some of that by (slightly drunkenly) expecting that England’s second innings would reach 436 – that’s £5 down the drain due to Brendon McCullum’s early handshake. Frustratingly Jonathan Trott fell five runs short of his 50 and Jimmy Anderson was stranded on four wickets at the time of the declaration, thus robbing me of a new speedboat.
Matt Larnach: Is fair to say the first Test left rather a bad taste in my mouth, as what can only be explained as Kiwi incompetence in removing Finn from the crease robbed me of a hefty pay day. In retaliation I burnt all my Footrot Flats comics. That’ll learn ’em.
James K: We’ll write the last week off as a blip, as I managed to not only lose every bet I placed on this series but subsequently have also lost a Watto-based wager with Aussie Matt due to homework related shenanigans. Rarely has a bet ever gone up the spout faster than my 3-0 shot.
Matt H: And what do you think is in store for the second Test at the Basin Reserve?
ML: Struggling for any sort of inspiration for this one. I think England will take it pretty easily. So instead I have looked elsewhere for my kicks, and lumped $5 on Australia to win the third Test in India (paying $32.5), and $5 on Steve Smith to be the teams highest scorer (shockingly paying $50).
Nichael Bluth: My Moneyball approach to the first game hasn’t really helped so far. I’m still holding on to my $40 stake, with the idea being to throw it all on something unlikely, but outrageously good value, in the third Test. Unless I forget again.
JK: One gets the feeling Aussie Bluth isn’t taking this endeavour that seriously. Anyway, banking on a top order collapse in vaguely decent cricket conditions, I’ve put £3 on Kiwi ‘keeper BJ (stop giggling) Watling as their top first innings run scorer; which pays back £30. Along similar lines, I’ve ummed and arred over whether to pick Stuart Broad or James Anderson as England’s top wicket taker and have plumped for the latter, ensuring the former will demolish all and sundry. £5 placed on that, which pays back a shade over £13.
Matt H: Having said that Pietersen will get a hundred, I ought to follow that up with a bet, so have stuck a small amount on him doing so in the first innings.