64th over: New Zealand 150-5 (Mitchell 42, Blundell 10) Nothing doing despite Stokes’ animation, so chances are they’ll have to wait until the new ball now. Meantime, Leach is still trundling in and aiming darts; I wish he had the confidence to toss a few more up, and as I type that, Mitchell stomps down, eases onto one knee, and clobbers four through square leg.
63rd over: New Zealand 146-5 (Mitchell 38, Blundell 10) Yup, Broad is back and begins with the loosest of looseners, way outside off. But he gets away with it, sending down a maiden after which Stokes and Bairstow try getting the ball changed.
“This is from Boycott’s book On Cricket,” says Marcus Abdullahi. “The other side of Botham’s nature had become clear in Trinidad during the first Test, when he was larking about around the swimming-pool at the team’s hotel. He decided it was very amusing to go around pulling down people’s shorts, but as the afternoon wore on his antics took on a violent undertone. Eventually Peter Willey, who is a very tough customer from the North-east, had had enough, so he threw some of Botham’s gear into the pool. ‘Hey, that’s mine,’ snapped Botham. ‘I know,’ said Willey; ‘what are you going to do about it?’ Guessing that Willey meant business, Botham avoided a head-on confrontation. That represented one of the few occasions when he dodged trouble.”
I was talking about Botham just last night, telling my wife – after we’d watched Sanya Richard Ross as per the below – that if he gets into any kind of argument, about anything, he eventually gives it a “And how many Test wickets did you get?”
62nd over: New Zealand 146-5 (Mitchell 38, Blundell 10) Broad is stretching, so I wonder if Stokes isn’t quite ready to bowl again; now I’ve said that, he’ll probably plough through 63 overs unchanged between now and the close. But in the meantime, Leach is milked for four as the crowd, nicely oiled, make a racket. I wonder what Brian Close would make of the lad with the trumpet.
61st over: New Zealand 142-5 (Mitchell 35, Blundell 9) Blundell twizzles a single to square leg, then Blundell pokes two to third man and bunts one to mid off.
“Defensive block in the vague direction of one of their weaker fielders,” says Jeremy Boyce, “coupled with ‘Two there…’”
60th over: New Zealand 138-5 (Mitchell 32, Blundell 8) Four dots from Leach, as we hear the phrase “point of difference” for the infinitieth time today; the third of them yields an appeal when it appears to strike Mitchell’s tootsies, but I’m pretty sure it was bat first (because Nasser just said it was). He then reverses two more, and this is drifting a little – I’m not sure why England aren’t going harder at the new man.
59th over: New Zealand 136-5 (Mitchell 30, Blundell 8) No, Root continues, and Mitchell knucks his third delivery via reverse, but directly to Leach at backward point. His fifth, though, is pressed to leg and the batters run through for a single.
“I never strayed from defence too often,” admits Matt Dony, “but if I was playing further up the pitch and facing my own defenders waiting for a pass, saying ‘Close him’ to my marker was surprisingly often effective. Freed myself up, and bought space for the inevitable poor first touch.”
58th over: New Zealand 135-5 (Mitchell 29, Blundell 8) Blundell is into this right away, and rightly so – he’s in nick and despite the five down, this is a decent track. He flicks two to square leg, the only runs off the over, and we learn that rain is 42 minutes away.
57th over: New Zealand 133-5 (Mitchell 29, Blundell 6) Root continues – I’m a little surprised at that with a new batter in – and his first ball is easily despatched for four to midwicket by Blundell. A single follows, then two twos to Mitchell, and that might be thank you Joe.
“I quite liked ‘ankle smasher’ myself, says Jeremy Boyce of daisy cutters, “but actually ‘fast ball bowled on municipal pitch’ might also apply – although this might also be true of the one that blacks your eye. But what about the one that hits you on the inner thigh? What are the different expressions for this And has anyone else had the same joy as I have, playing social cricket and being passed an already sweaty box by the outgoing batsman as you go out to bat, because we’ve only got 2 for the whole team. Unless you have a personal one.”
Inside thigh is a donkey bite, or was when we went through a phase of grabbing each other’s in school. And yes, I have indeed shared a box.
56th over: New Zealand 124-5 (Mitchell 25, Blundell 1) Blundell has batted well in the series and I’m not sure he’ll let Leach bowl in the way of those above him; he’s got four balls to survive from the over that began before tea, and he strokes the third of them for a single to point.
“The best sledges are always pre-performance sledges,” says Robert Wilson. “You walk in to bat in borrowed kit and baseball boots against a relatively tasty quick. You scratch your mark, stretch and take guard under the judgemental gaze of some chubby and malicious baldy standing at a contemptuously close cover who loudly bellows ‘Easy does it, Bill/Jim/Mo, on the stumps please, this hopeless tw*t can’t protect hisself’ to gales of disobliging laughter. Naturally that first ball up ALWAYS zipped past your ears in a roguish manner. Those first thirty seconds or so were always when the real poets of sledging did their finest work.”
Tea-time email: “Just two words to add to the Royal Rumble discussion: Brian and Close,” reminds Geoff Wignall.
Yes, fair enough – one of those you know could give you a pasting just by looking at his face, even when he was into his 80s. I remember reading that when he was first picked by England he was in the middle of some kind of army punishment – he’s one of those hard blokes who’s as good at enduring pain as dispensing it.
And that is tea! England are bang in charge; New Zealand are fighting to keep head above broon. see you presently for what promises to be yet another brilliant session.
HAVE – A – LOOK! Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you realise you’ve seen nowt! Nicholls comes down, drives hard, straight at Mitchell … who tries to move his bat out the road but instead middles a drive directly to mid on! I’ve never seen anything like that, and I guess yiu’ve got to congratulate Ben Stokes for keeping Leach going and offering the big shot in the over before tea. But really, what a carry-on!
55th over: New Zealand 123-4 (Nicholls 19, Mitchell 25) Yup, that was Pottz’s last over, with Root down to try a twiddle before tea – have a go saying that after a
session on the Western Terrace. Anyway, Nicholls takes one to mid on, then Mitchell sweeps two, and there’ll be time for one more over before tea.
As soon as I hit launch I remembered it was Gooch out handled ball, and here’s Martin Crookall putting me in my place: “Not Mike Atherton with the Handled the Ball but Mike Vaughan. And before that, Graham Gooch at Old Trafford, in the Test when Shane Warne bowled THAT ball, facing Mervyn Hughes and sweeping the ball away with hisforearm before it fell on his wicket, which I only bring up so I can point out that I was there to actually see that one…”
54th over: New Zealand 120-4 (Nicholls 18, Mitchell 23) Credit to Stokes for keeping Leach going – there’s little more inspirational than knowing people believe in you – the two most important words are “well done” said the greatest HR man of all-time, Alex Ferguson, and letting someone do their thing is a tacit way of doing exactly that. Anyhow, the captain is rewarded with another tight over, Nicholls pushing to long on for the only run from it.
53rd over: New Zealand 119-4 (Nicholls 17, Mitchell 23) This is the fourth over of Potts’ spell; I wonder if it might be his last, as it’s pretty hot in Leeds and he flings every ounce of himself into every delivery. England would love another wicket here – they’re in charge, but break this partnership and they’re thinking all out 250 at worst. They’ve to make do with another maide.
“Re the all-time England Cricket Royal Rumble,” offers Ewan Glenton, “I’d back Peter Willey against most comers; I’m sure I remember something about him being the only one Ian Botham was scared of, and in some dressing room horseplay ‘Willey soon overpowered the beefy all-rounder’ is a sentence that stuck in my mind decades ago.”
Yes, that’s certainly his reputation – it’s great, and terrifying, when the ones who don’t look nails are. Jockeys, for example.
52nd over: New Zealand 119-4 (Nicholls 17, Mitchell 23) Leach continues and deceives Nicholls with a quicker one, part of his fifth maiden of the day.
“I always preferred worm-burner myself,” says Andrew Benzeval on daisy-cutter synonyms, “subterranean and therefore even worse than the pea roller.”
And a far more evocative image.
51st over: New Zealand 119-4 (Nicholls 17, Mitchell 23) Potts has the look of a straight-down-the-line cop in a US TV series, the bloke who never solves the case but is there when someone else does, then goes to the celebration and has a Coke. Anyhow, Nicholls turns an inswinger to square leg where Overton misfields, and they take a single – the only run from the over.
“Shouting ‘MINE’ after skying one while jogging down to non-striker’s end, watching a nervy fielder get underneath it,” offers Alex McGillivray.
I love that one. Tangentially, as a kid I was once handed a going-over after top-edging one, then elbowing it into the pitch before the fielder could collect his dolly. I think it was after someone, Atherton I think, was given out for swiping the ball away from his stumps with his hand.
50th over: New Zealand 118-4 (Nicholls 16, Mitchell 23) If I’m brutal, I’m surprised it’s taken this long, and right as Sanga says Leach’s figures are better than they should be, Mitchel twinkles down and larrups him back over his barnet and into the stand. He responds with five dots, though, and I wonder whether Stokes will keep him on hoping for a miscue now the batters’ policy has changed, or give one of his quicks – himself perhaps – a run before tea.
49th over: New Zealand 112-4 (Nicholls 17, Mitchell 16) Look at Henry Nicholls! He drives Potts’ first ball straight back past him for four, his first boundary! That’ll make him feel a lot better, and after seeing away four dots he hauls a pull from outside off towards the midwicket fence; good work from Lees turns four into two.
“I occasionally got to fill in for my brother,” says
John Sims, “who played with a team that regularly used the wonderful ground at Harwood House north of Leeds. I always tried to bat at 12 or lower, based on the terror induced by a broad Yorkshire accent from behind the stumps or in the slip cordon suggesting, ‘I wouldn’t bother taking your guard, mate. We’ve no idea where it’s landing either.’ They would then proceed to dive for cover as the first ball was bowled, and often I would be too in the confusion of the daisy-cutter finally trundling into my undefended middle stump.”
Daisy cutter is a great term, I’ve not had that in years. Pea roller is another, what else have we got?
48th over: New Zealand 106-4 (Nicholls 17, Mitchell 10) Mitchell turns Leach around the corner to the rope at deep backward square, then reverses him through backward point for four more. Nevertheless, I wonder if this innings might represent a breakthrough for Leach who, so far in his Test career, has been largely unable to hold down an end in first inningseseseses. I doubt he’s got many more chances, so he needs to make that so.
“The opponents of my son’s U11 team would shout out ‘nervous batsman’ when they realised this was the case,” emails James Orwell, “thus exacerbating the condition considerably….”
Lovely stuff. I used to do similar on the football pitch – when the ball went to a defender who ddn’t want it, I’d be right there with the “Look at him, he doesn’t want it!”
47th over: New Zealand 98-4 (Nicholls 10, Mitchell 9) Potts gets his first go downhill from the Kirkstall Lane and after Mitchell takes a single, a full one nails Mitchell low on the pad! The bowler likes it a lot, but his captain looks to his keeper and between them they reckon it’s going down. I can see why because it’s slanting in, but impact looked pretty dead to my useless eyes. Goodness me, it is! Middle and leg, two-thirds of the way up where the mezuzah would be, and poor old Pottsy/Potty/Potts has been robbed of a Test wicket!
46th over: New Zealand 97-4 (Nicholls 10, Mitchell 8) Nicholls tries another sweep and gets naewhere – he’s be the world’s worst curler – then nudges a single into the on side. Leech finds a better delivery next, appealing when Mitchell presents the pad, but an edge preceded contact and he gets down t’other end when Stokes misfields at mid on. Talking of which, this used to be a favourite of a mate of mine, calling “misfield” right before the ball was picked up; I also like a shouted “thank you firstname” to a bowler who’s taken some tap. Any more for any more?
45th over: New Zealand 95-4 (Nicholls 9, Mitchell 7) Overton begins his 11th over as a Test cricketer with two bumpers; Nicholls evades them easily enough, so after a step-up in pace which is played back towards him, he tries things from around; Nicholls pulls past the dive of Stokes at square leg for one
44th over: New Zealand 94-4 (Nicholls 8, Mitchell 7) Nicholls bunts Leach to long on for a single – he’s motoring now! – and it’s the only run from the over. Thinking again about Overton Minor, I think I’d back him in an England squad Royal Rumble; I think he’d do well in an all-time one, too.
43rd over: New Zealand 93-4 (Nicholls 7, Mitchell 7) Jamie Overton might’ve missed his calling as a crocodile wrestler, but he’s a pretty nifty bowler too – he’s done well today. I don’t think I even mentioned him when discussing the ludicrousness of England’s pace options the other day – I reckon he could take Alan Igglesden – but as I type that, he offers Mitchell a pull, no it’s not ten-to-two, and is duly annihilated through square leg. So Overton tries a fuller one at which the batter drives, the ball swinging away just past the outside edge.
42nd over: New Zealand 89-4 (Nicholls 7, Mitchell 3) Nicholls attempts consecutive sweeps and Leach attempts consecutive appeals; both fail. So Nicholls presses forward, then goes back and leaves, ball missing stump by the width of a hair on the bowler’s head. Maiden.
Thanks and areas, Tim; afternoon everyone. I shall get my thesaurus out and find alternative verbs. Cajole; soothe.
41st over: New Zealand 89-4 (Nicholls 7, Mitchell 3) Even Nicholls is getting fed up with Nicholls’s slow scoring. He has a flap at a lifter from Overton and is lucky not to get a nick. That is drinks with England still in charge.
“Afternoon Tim, and loving the stuff as usual,” says Mark Slater. Thanks! “Possibly the only thing a 3 Test series has over a 5 Test one is that there are no dead rubbers; you can lose two and win the last and only be one Test down, and there is that preying on the mind of the team in the lead. I still prefer the set of 5, and think that last year’s NZ would have been worth it.” Any year’s NZ would be worth it in my book: these teams are so well matched. Nos. 7 and 8 in the world!
Time for me to hand over to the talented Daniel Harris, who will, as he would say, coax you though the rest of the day. Thanks for your company and correspondence on matters both serious and trivial.
40th over: New Zealand 88-4 (Nicholls 6, Mitchell 3) Another maiden from Leach, to Mitchell for a change. This partnership has yielded five runs from 33 balls.
39th over: New Zealand 88-4 (Nicholls 6, Mitchell 3) Another tight over from Overton, who can be expensive but hasn’t been here. He has 8-1-20-1.
“Enjoying the OBO as ever,” says Calum Fordham, “from a beach just north of Naples with a fine view of an Aragonese castle. Conditions here this morning were overcast, hot and humid with a spot of rain, not optimal for swimming and sunbathing but perfect for English seam bowlers. Sun’s just come out so looking foward to an enjoyable afternoon of beachlife and cricket. I’d bring in Moeen and Mahmood for Leach and Overton for a bit of diversity and higher quality cricketers.” Mahmood might well be here if he was fit. England did pick him in the winter, alongside Overton (C) and ahead of Overton (J), just as they went with Moeen last summer ahead of Leach.
38th over: New Zealand 87-4 (Nicholls 6, Mitchell 2) A maiden from Leach to Nicholls, who may have a big score in him – it’s just that it will take him until October.
“Broad,” says Tom Bowtell, “has kept up his record of doing better without Anderson. He now has 90 wickets @ 25.16 when unjimmied against a jimmied record of 458 @ 28.37.” He does love to lead the attack.
37th over: New Zealand 87-4 (Nicholls 6, Mitchell 2) Two singles off Overton too. His twin, Craig, joins him on the field as Potts trots into the dressing-room. Another nice moment for their parents, who are there today.
36th over: New Zealand 85-4 (Nicholls 5, Mitchell 1) After making no changes at lunch, Stokes now makes two at once. Potts gives way to Leach, who doesn’t strike instantly this time. A solid over goes for two singles.
35th over: New Zealand 83-4 (Nicholls 4, Mitchell 0) Overton deserved that. He now has the two things his first spell didn’t quite produce: a wicket and a maiden.
England have seen off two of the four opposing players who look as if they have a big score in them. And here comes the third – Daryl Mitchell, NZ’s batter of the series.
Jamie Overton strikes! And it’s another great bowling change from Stokes. Conway drives, loosely, and Overton’s inswing finds the inside edge for a booming played-on. A great moment for Overton (J), taking his first England wicket and drawing applause from Overton (C) on the balcony.
34th over: New Zealand 83-3 (Conway 26, Nicholls 4) Potts tries again with that full inswinger to Nicholls, who jabs down on it with half a bat. Later in the over he plays a better shot, a forward defensive, but still flirts with danger as the ball drops close to his stumps.
Meanwhile Stokes has a moan about the state of the ball, puzzling the pundits as this one is offering plenty of movement. England’s over rate, so poor in this otherwise thrilling series, would be better if they didn’t make so many attempts to get the ball changed.
33rd over: New Zealand 83-3 (Conway 26, Nicholls 4) Broad lands a blow on Conway, glancing him on the glove with a lifter that goes on to thud into his arm. Conway, undaunted, responds with a handsome straight drive for four. This is such a good duel.
32nd over: New Zealand 79-3 (Conway 22, Nicholls 4) A maiden from Potts to Nicholls, who has now taken 27 balls to make four runs.
31st over: New Zealand 79-3 (Conway 22, Nicholls 4) Broad goes fuller, searching for swing, and Conway cashes in with a clip for four and a square drive for four more. When the camera zooms in on him, his face is a picture of intensity. There’s no such thing as a dead rubber, is there?
30th over: New Zealand 71-3 (Conway 14, Nicholls 4) Potts produces a full-length inswinger and thinks he’s got Nicholls plumb in front. It’s not given, so England review, and it’s still not given because there could be an element of inside edge. Stokes looks politely incredulous.
29th over: New Zealand 70-3 (Conway 13, Nicholls 4) Broad, too, has to bowl while digesting his lunch. He does well, managing a maiden, so his figures in this spell are 4-3-2-1 – very Anderson.
“When Steve Davies came out at Surrey over 10 years ago,” says Simon Fuller, “everyone said fine and moved on. I don’t recall any negativity at all.” Me neither, but I suppose the question is how many players haven’t felt able to follow suit.
28th over: New Zealand 69-3 (Conway 13, Nicholls 4) If you were a seamer, would you be happy to bowl just before lunch and then just after? Potts isn’t complaining but he’s not on the money either. He resumes with a freebie on the pads which Nicholls clips away for a comfy three.
The players are out there and Matty Potts is going to continue. Meanwhile, according to a report in the Mail, Yorkshire CCC will have a special guest on Saturday: Azeem Rafiq.
As I sent that last post, in came this email from Rosanna Lynch. “It’s right that men’s cricket is not out,” she feels, “but it’s one of the ways in which the women’s game has led the way. Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver were amazing talking about being openly gay and their different experiences on the No Balls podcast recently.”
“Interesting point about being out gay, or not out, in the 27th over,” says Alisdair Gould. “Jeremy Boyce writes about this and Justin Fashanu. I think cricket has been shutting up shop for decades when other sports have embraced openly gay players. That is partly down to individuals but also the establishment of the sport. So glad it was mentioned. Thank you for keeping us up to date with play while we are (erm) working.”
“Ref over 27,” adds Peter Wyatt. “Surely that should be male cricket is not yet out. The women’s game overcame that hurdle some time ago.” Very true.
27th over: New Zealand 65-3 (Conway 12, Nicholls 1) Broad can still smell blood, but Conway is good enough to keep him out. And that’s lunch, with the two lefties living to see another session but England well on top. The morning has belonged to Broad, Leach and Stokes, who may feel it was a good toss to lose. Broad has two for 20, and needs only two more for 550 in Tests.
“Diversity, 7th over,” says Jeremy Boyce. “Yer man is right, Viv Anderson was from a generation that had a very different experience. At least he survived it. Let’s look at Dalian Atkinson (taken away from us by the Telford Fuzz) and Justin Fashanu, taken away from us by having the misfortune to be both black AND gay at that time. Interesting that although ‘out’ is a fundamental expression in cricket, mostly cricket is not yet ‘out’. A sense of perspective always helps.”
26th over: New Zealand 65-3 (Conway 12, Nicholls 1) A maiden from Potts to Nicholls. The commentators feel Potts isn’t great against left-handers, but he’s showing a new string to his bow here – the ability not to make things happen.
Here’s Richard Woods, picking up the thread from the 20th over. “I suppose you could call the BBC commentary an OBO,” he says, “in the same way as you might call Mark Lathwell or Aftab Habib Test cricketers.” Ha, thanks.
25th over: New Zealand 65-3 (Conway 12, Nicholls 1) Broad is running in hard now with steam coming off his bandana. He goes full and has Conway dropped behind off an inside edge, though to be fair it’s only a quarter-chance as Foakes changes direction, dives and tips it round the post. “He did very well to get a glove on it,” says Kumar Sangakkara, speaking on behalf of the Amalgamated Union of Wicketkeepers.
24th over: New Zealand 63-3 (Conway 11, Nicholls 0) So England have two left-handers to bowl at, which will be fine by Broad. Potts keeps the pressure on, bowling a maiden to Henry Nicholls and beating him outside off with an Overton-style wild one – short, wide and swinging.
“Pleased to see Leach troubling the batsmen at Headingley,” says Hugh Stokes. “Have never thought of it as a spinner’s ground. If I’m not mistaken, it was one of Shane Warne’s least favourite English Test venues and – others may correct me – can’t think of many spinners cleaning up there, although I do recall Phil Edmonds’ five-for in 1975 against the Aussies – I was there.” One of the great debuts.
23rd over: New Zealand 62-3 (Conway 11, Nicholls 0) So Stokes does it again, taking Leach off just before lunch, when Joe Root would have been thinking about bringing him on.
“Afternoon Tim, hope you’re enjoying your morning session so far,” says David Horn. I am, thanks. “It’s interesting (to me),” he goes on, “how some bowlers thrive under different management set-ups. More so, perhaps, than batters who operate more in their own bubble. Overton, J – who you described as providing an examination, may well prove to be a case in point. Previous set-ups might have valued other attributes more highly – but I suspect that Stokes / McCullum will welcome a bowler who provides an examination, even if their own wickets column doesn’t directly benefit. (And yes, I’m still bitter about Steven Finn, obviously. SR of 51. Fifty One!)”
Another magic bowling change! Stokes brings back Broad, who beats one edge of Williamson’s bat, then kisses the other. Big moment.
22nd over: New Zealand 62-2 (Williamson 31, Conway 11) Potts concedes his first run of this spell as Williamson gets a tickle to fine leg. Do you get the feeling he’s planning a hundred?
“The thing is,” says Matt Dony, “guessing Wordle on the first try would be a good story, but ultimately unfulfilling as an experience. No skill involved. Anyone could do it. Sort of like surviving a Broad referral. Or beating Manchester United.” Ouch.
21st over: New Zealand 61-2 (Williamson 30, Conway 11) Leach continues and there’s a single to Williamson followed by a string of dots to Conway, who gets frustrated and tries a reverse sweep that almost bobbles up into the arms of Broad at backward point.
20th over: New Zealand 60-2 (Williamson 29, Conway 11) Stokes gives Overton a breather and a pat on the back. His Test career figures, 5-0-17-0, could easily be 5-0-15-2. Potts returns with a maiden and some authoritative field-setting. Not content with having too many Test seamers when they’re all fit, England have discovered two more this month.
“Hey Tim,” says Rory Davies, “in the spirit of ‘teach a man to fish and he’ll have fish for life’, Heyden should go to the BBC Cricket page, then click on the LIVE match link. From there the TMS Overseas link is available (at the bottom of the photo, but above the over by over commentary).” You mean they do an OBO too?