New Zealand ruined England’s overnight plans but in a low-scoring affair, the game is finely-poised.
It is fair to say that the last six months probably haven’t been Ross Taylor’s favourite half-year, but today he showed why he is New Zealand’s leading batsman. Whereas all others have found it hard to score freely on this pitch and with this outfield, Taylor took the attack to England and in particular punished the all too familiar floaty shit from Stuart Broad . By scoring 66 from 72 balls he grabbed the initiative and waved it in England’s face – of the home side’s top eight, Trott scored his runs the quickest at just a smidgeon over 40 runs per 100 balls – showing that runs can be scored in these conditions.
Earlier in the day the Kiwis showed – again – why everyone is underestimating them by ripping through England’s lower order. Joe Root was strangled, Prior was out first ball (he also dropped a relatively simple chance later, making it his worst day since that time he had to be interviewed by Nick Knight) and Stuart Broad was given LBW to a delivery so plumb that not even he could seriously contemplate referring the decision. England’s total looked dreadfully substandard and it was Taylor who demonstrated that this was the case.
Yes, it was undoubtedly New Zealand’s day. But in what looks to be a gripping and low-scoring match, one can’t help but think that Graeme Swann and Jimmy Anderson may play a crucial part in its outcome. Indeed, it was the latter who will make headlines tomorrow due to his second wicket of the day, his 300th in Test cricket – that of Peter Fulton caught at slip by his Swann himself. Having played for England a few days shy of ten years, Anderson has reached a milestone that roughly divides the good from the great. Although he seems justifiably proud of this achievement, he will be more concerned about helping England take some quick wickets tomorrow morning than his position in the Cricinfo record pages.
As good as New Zealand were today, they are in a similar position (in runs and wickets if not overs faced) to England’s last night. Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum could easily secure a lead before lunch, but so too could Anderson and Swann bowl England back into this game. For all the whining – us included – about the slowness of Day One, this could turn into a really tense encounter.