May 17, 2013It was a day of old fashioned cricket. MCC members, in their extravagantly coloured blazers and ties, queued from dawn for the best seat in the house. Picnickers gathered in the gardens behind the pavilion to meet up with old friends. Spirits were maintained in the soporific atmosphere and the occasional boundary was applauded politely. Spectators, closing their eyes after a long lunch, missed little. But the cricket was turgid. All day England crawled along at two runs an over. After winning the toss and batting first, they reached only 160 – 4 off 80 overs, with bad light and rain clipping 10 overs off the day’s play.
A slow outfield, completely re-laid following last year’s Olympics, and a sluggish pitch, hampered scoring throughout. Partnerships proved elusive. All the batsmen made starts, but none passed 40. So far, Jonathan Trott has top scored with 39. The tame dismissals of Nick Compton (16) and Ian Bell (31) provided evidence that England were not certain whether to stick or twist.
New Zealand, as if often the case with visiting teams at the home of cricket, punched above their weight. The bowling was accurate and disciplined. In coolish conditions the ball swung all day and there was even a small amount of turn. Trent Boult was the most imposing member of the attack; he returned figures of 2 – 129 off 17 overs. The ground fielding was impressive throughout and Dean Brownlie’s spectacular diving slip catch to dismiss Trott stood out.
England’s young guns, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, live to fight another day. They face a new ball at the start of play. New Zealand, hoping that their batsmen follow the lead of the bowlers, will be striving for the victory that eluded them in the recent home series against England. England will need to move through the gears and post a score in excess of 300 if they are to prevent this.
The Scoop 17/05/13