52nd over: New Zealand 162-6 (Watling 15, de Grandhomme 2) The new batter Colin de Grandhomme gets off a pair by whapping a full toss for a single. New Zealand lead by 265.
“Good morning Rob,” says Adam Roberts. “Your mention of Stuart B on Courtney Walsh’s knee immediately put me in mind of one of my favourite photos. My very young daughter, all golden curls and cherubic features, sitting on Michael Holding’s knee – completely oblivious to who he is – attacking him with a giant foam finger.
“Which ties in nicely with today. Unexpectedly awake from 4am. I made the most of it by switching on the cricket at 5. First up is the mellifluous voice of Mikey H, explaining his late arrival at the Test because of the problems of getting out of Cayman to the UK (he had to fly through the States) – something my family is currently struggling with.”
WICKET! New Zealand 159-6 (Nicholls c Burns b Root 23)
Henry Nicholls walks. He missed a reverse sweep at Root and gloved the ball into the off side, where Burns ran forward from slip and swooped to take a fine low catch.
51st over: New Zealand 159-5 (Nicholls 23, Watling 14) Some light rain is falling at Lord’s. Play continues for now, though the umpires could decide to take an early lunch.
“Is it just me,” says Mark Steward, “or does Ollie Robinson look like the secret lovechild of Freddie Flintoff and Steve Harmison?”
He reminds me more of Harmison when he bats, though he’s obviously more accomplished. I suppose there are many worse lovechildren to resemble.
50th over: New Zealand 157-5 (Nicholls 22, Watling 13) Root hurries through another over, and why not.
49th over: New Zealand 156-5 (Nicholls 22, Watling 12) Watling edges Anderson for four, which takes New Zealand’s lead to 259. There are still a maximum of 79 overs remaining; I’d imagine they will given England a target of around 310 in 67 overs.
48th over: New Zealand 151-5 (Nicholls 22, Watling 7) Root continues. Nicholls swipes him over mid-on for four and then misses a huge slog-sweep. Had he connected with that, no outdoor brunch on St John’s Wood High Street would have been safe. New Zealand lead by 254, and I’m starting to wonder whether England are sleepwalking into a horror movie.
47th over: New Zealand 144-5 (Nicholls 16, Watling 6) Or maybe Root came on so that Anderson can change ends, which is what he has just done. One from the over.
“Finding the endless moaning about over rates on telly and radio increasingly irritating,” says Andy Moore. “Why can’t we just accept that in the modern game bowling 15 overs per hour isn’t feasible (what with reviews, drinks breaks etc)? Is there any other sport that places more importance in the time of day than the amount of play to be completed? Looking forward to the Ryder Cup concluding at 6pm sharp with America 1/2 point ahead and Justin Rose 4 up with 5 to play. Really grinds my gears.”
I can see both sides of this argument. I find it hard to angry about slow over-rates, but then I haven’t paid however much to get into the ground. Your point is a good one, that there are more natural interruptions nowadays, concussion checks and the like, but equally 12 overs an hour is pushing it. Maybe 14 per hour is a more realistic target, I don’t know.
46th over: New Zealand 142-5 (Nicholls 15, Watling 5) Joe Root replaces Anderson, perhaps with England’s inadequate over-rate in mind. Five from the over.
“In cryptic crossword circles, the process which you just have described about de Stael (ie divining the existence of something highbrow from something distinctly lowbrow) is known as ‘Ninja Turtling’,” says Tom Adam. “It stems from, ‘Of course I’ve heard of Donatello. He’s the one with the purple mask.’”
That’s a good phrase, I hadn’t heard of that. Also, David Chase would like to discuss your description of the Sopranos as ‘distinctly lowbrow’. It’s okay, he’s in a good mood.
45th over: New Zealand 137-5 (Nicholls 11, Watling 4) I thought they might promote Colin de Grandhomme for some bish-bosh, but BJ Watling is the new batter, and he gets going with an emphatic cut for four. That was a useful cameo from Taylor: 33 from 35 balls with one four, two sixes and a comprehensive range of fresh-air shots.
“Kudos to Michael Keane for not venting spleen on anyone else (the pandemic aside) for his mis-ticketing episode,” says Ian Copestake. “I wish him a very tasty lunch.”
I hope it’s not egg and bacon.
WICKET! New Zealand 133-5 (Taylor c Bracey b Wood 33)
Ross Taylor’s eccentric innings comes to an end. He chases a deliberately wide delivery from Wood and snicks it through to Bracey, who takes a nice low catch to his right.
44th over: New Zealand 132-4 (Taylor 33, Nicholls 10) Jimmy Anderson comes on for Stuart Broad, and Taylor survives a very good-looking LBW shout. The umpire Michael Gough thought there was an inside edge, but the two noises were actually the ball hitting both pads. England have wasted all three of their reviews; had they been able to go upstairs, Taylor would have been out.
“Just re-emerging from your Cricinfo link/wormhole in the 34th over,” says Jim Crane. “That 1989 Australia tour itinerary – madon! Six Tests, visits to all the counties, and then casually rounding it off with two bilateral series against Netherlands and Denmark! Imagine rocking up to an ICC board meeting in 2021 with that proposal.”
It’s great isn’t it. They played a county game the day after they regained the Ashes, and the stand-in captain Geoff Marsh chose to bat first on a green mamba because, in his words, “the boys are all still pissed”.
43rd over: New Zealand 126-4 (Taylor 30, Nicholls 7) An extraordinary shot from Ross Taylor, who slogs across the line at Wood and top edges the ball high over third man for six. Taylor is so dangerous that, despite middling almost nothing, he has raced to 30 from 31 balls.
“Morning Rob,” says Michael Keane. “I’m heading home from Lord’s where, on arrival at the Grace Gate, it transpired that my ticket was for yesterday. Woe is me. As a newly minted member I had thought my days of ticket tragedies were over. But for now even those of us bedecked in egg and bacon need to book a seat. Bloody global pandemic… Looks like it’s the OBO and TMS for me today then. Maybe I’ll make lunch for my better half or something. Feck.”
This is mildly heartbreaking, and extremely funny. (I say that as the kind of airhead who does things like this all the time.)
42nd over: New Zealand 118-4 (Taylor 23, Nicholls 6) Nicholls goes into one-day mode, walking down the pitch to slice Broad high over the slips for four. Broad replies with another big inswinger – too big, this time, as it veers away for four leg byes. New Zealand have scored 56 from 12 overs this morning; they lead by 221.
“If Friedrich Nietzsche was on comms,” says Ian Copestake, his eyebrows unintentionally betraying the extent of that if, “Zak Crawley’s cover drive would be a cue for his line that, ‘Art is the supreme task and the truly metaphysical activity in this life.’”
41st over: New Zealand 109-4 (Taylor 23, Nicholls 1) Mark Wood replaces Ollie Robinson (14-5-26-3) and beats Taylor with the first and last deliveries of the over. Two runs from it.
“The 2000 Code of the Laws of Cricket was the first to use ‘fielder’, instead of ‘fieldsman’,” says Alan Tuffery.
That’s interesting; I expected it to be much earlier than that.
40th over: New Zealand 107-4 (Taylor 22, Nicholls 1) That’s Broad’s 518th Test wicket, which puts him one behind Courtney Walsh, the man whose lap Broad used to sit on when he was a kid. Imagine the eight-year-old Broad’s face if you told him they would both end up with 500 Test wickets.
WICKET! New Zealand 105-4 (Latham LBW b Broad 36)
After a mildly scandalous amount of misfortune, Stuart Broad finally gets his first wicket of the match in his 38th over. Latham, beaten the ball before, is hit on the back leg by a big inswinger bowled from wider on the crease. Michael Gough gives it out and, though Latham reviews, it’s hitting enough of leg stump for the original decision to stand.
39th over: New Zealand 106-3 (Latham 36, Taylor 22) Taylor misses another disgusting mow across the line at Robinson. But then he finally nails the shot, pinging Robinson over midwicket for a huge six. He is always dangerous, even when his bat seems to have no middle.
“Hi Rob,” says Pete Salmon. “Who remembers The Professionals? We’ve been watching Bodie and Doyle at ours as our lockdown treat – just started the final series and already mourning getting to the end. Two very nice moments for OBOers recently. One, Bodie playing club cricket, moving rapidly through the nineties with a series of pull shots, and then getting bowled for 97 after being distracted by a call to duty (followed by getting changed out of his whites in the back of a speeding car, as we’ve all done at some stage). And then in last night’s episode, Doyle having to pretend he’s an intellectual. Bodie: ‘Can you keep the patter up?’ Doyle: ‘Of course, I read the Guardian.’”
I’m now desperate to know what Arthur Daley made of our esteemed rag.
38th over: New Zealand 97-3 (Latham 35, Taylor 14) “Excellent Guardianista preamble reference to the French-Swiss Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein,” says Brian Withington. “She almost invented the Guardian strap line with the phrase ‘Search for the truth is the noblest occupation of man; its publication is a duty’. Apparently she is also quoted as saying, ‘The more I see of man, the more I like dogs’, so something for [redacted] readers, too.”
While I’d love to flaunt my education, and perhaps explore what Nietzsche’s philosophy can tell us about Zak Crawley’s cover drive, I only know the Madade de Staël quote because Meadow mentions it in the Sopranos.
37th over: New Zealand 93-3 (Latham 34, Taylor 11) Taylor doesn’t look remotely comfortable against Robinson. He is beaten outside off stump, edges short of the slips and then hacks desperately across the line for a couple of runs. Robinson smiles at Taylor with contempt and then has a big LBW appeal turned down when Taylor misses another smear. England was their last review – it hit him miles outside off stump. That wasn’t great captaincy from Joe Root. But it was a brilliant over from Robinson, which concludes with another play and miss by Taylor
36th over: New Zealand 91-3 (Latham 34, Taylor 8) “The last day of the match will not be so drab if Ross Taylor and Colin de Grandhomme can come in and smash Anderson and co. to make a hundred-odd runs in 90 minutes,” writes Gangesh. “Chasing 300-plus in 70 overs will enthuse England, and their aggression could provide the Kiwi bowlers opportunities. So that’s a possibility Kane Williamson can explore to inject some interest in the game – provided, of course, the notorious English weather stays fine!”
35th over: New Zealand 87-3 (Latham 33, Taylor 6) England would love to get Taylor early as he is somebody who can score quickly, as he shows with a cracking extra cover drive for four later. Robinson pulls his length back as a result and rips one past the edge. Lovely response.
“Has anyone seen a split screen of Ollie Robinson and Josh Hazlewood bowling?” says Gary Naylor. “The more I see of the Sussex bruiser, the more I think of the Australian err… bruiser.”
Hazlewood’s a bit quicker, isn’t he? But otherwise it’s an excellent comparison – forensic accuracy, sharp bounce, seam movement and a hint of malevolence.
34th over: New Zealand 81-3 (Latham 32, Taylor 1) There’s an urgency to New Zealand’s batting that wasn’t evident last night, so perhaps my assumption of a draw was premature. I can think of one precedent in particular. But it’s really not easy to score quickly on this pitch. Broad beats Latham with a stunning delivery and then has him dropped by Crawley at midwicket, a sharp two-handed chance to his right. Broad has had no luck at all in this game.
“I can live with batter,” says Adrian Goldman. “What I can’t live with is that in science, sulfate is now the expected spelling, not sulphate. Beyond dismay: pretty much the end of civilisation as we know it.”
I’ll see your sulfate and raise you T20 scorecards that have dot balls instead of maidens. It’s cultural vandalism. What the hell is 2-4-12-1 supposed to mean?
33rd over: New Zealand 80-3 (Latham 32, Taylor 0) In the history of Test cricket there have been 3,054 debuts, but none quite look Ollie Robinson’s: 42 runs, seven cheap wickets and a public shaming. He loses his line at the end of the over, spearing a delivery down the leg side for four byes. James Bracey was pretty gutted that it wasn’t called a wide.
WICKET! New Zealand 74-3 (Wagner c Bracey b Robinson 10)
A third wicket for Ollie Robinson. Wagner, roughed up by a couple of good short balls, top-edged a hook miles in the air and was calmly caught by James Bracey.
32nd over: New Zealand 72-2 (Latham 31, Wagner 10) Stuart Broad gets a chance to bowl at Neil Wagner, who dismissed him yesterday and celebrated with a red-faced flourish. Broad appeals for LBW first ball, but it was going down on the angle. Wagner then cracks two boundaries, a flash up and over the cordon and a majestic flick through midwicket. I’d love to hear Broad’s internal monologue right now.
“This fuss comes up regularly,” says John Starbuck. “’Batter’ is, agreed, both an Americanism (by way of the English invention of baseball) and a flour, milk and egg mixture. But think what might happen if we used ‘bowlsman’ as a standard. If we can do it with one essential element of cricket, we can do it with the other. Besides, look at the ambiguities of ‘pitch’ and ‘wicket’, which vary a lot depending on context. Language is meant to be fluid.”
31st over: New Zealand 62-2 (Latham 30, Wagner 2) Ollie Robinson will open the bowling, a reward for his forensic excellence last night. He switches over and round the wicket to Latham, giving him precisely no opportunities to score. Thus, it’s a maiden.
“The OED has instances ‘batter’ being used in relation to cricket going back about 200 years, so it’s not like it’s without precedent,” says Andrew Cosgrove. “Also, you don’t talk about a ‘bowlsman’ do you? Anyway, do you think England are capable of batting out two sessions for a draw?”
I do, I do. A collapse wouldn’t shock me but I think it’s unlikely, especially as there are likely to be one of two rain interruptions.
“I am becoming more & more dismayed by the use of the term ‘batter’ in cricket,” says Ben Carter. “All the commentators are doing it. The term is BATSMAN. Are you all coordinated by someone who tells you what to say?”
Yes, last month Mother Cricket gave her 475 children a collective brollocking for our sexist terminology. Seriously, though, with everything else that’s going on in the world right now, is a change of language designed to increase inclusivity really worthy of dismay? I can understand thinking it’s a bit heavy-handed, not that I’d necessarily agree, but dismay, I can’t have that.
The draws are back in town. Today, all things being equal, England will draw their third consecutive Test at home for the first time since the late eighties. And though that’s mainly down to the weather, it also reflects a different approach and a greater resilience under Chris Silverwood. The Bayliss-era England might have thrown the towel in when they slipped to 140 for six; instead, Rory Burns and Ollie Robinson (with bat and ball) stalled New Zealand’s momentum to such an extent that they finished the day crawling along at two an over.
New Zealand will resume on 62 for two, a lead of 165. With a maximum of 98 overs to bowl, they could still force victory on a pitch is becoming more uneven. But with a forecast for showers – of the meteorological rather than the middle-order kind – that looks unlikely. Madame de Stael said that one must choose in life between boredom and suffering. England politely request a boring last day.