And here’s Ali Martin’s match report from day four at Seddon Park:
Related: Joe Root's epic double century sets up potential intrigue on final day of second Test
So England’s day, Root’s day in particular, but England might have hoped to squeeze another wicket or three from the final session. Shout out to Neil Wagner too. The weather looks like being a pain tomorrow, but do join us for the last day of the series. Thanks for all the messages, time for some shut eye. Good night!
Joe Root: “It might do a little bit more in terms of up and down, a couple of wickets you just never know in the morning but we’ve given ourselves a chance.”
(talking about his partnership with Pope)“ It was crucial, we knew we needed some platform. It is not Olly’s particular way of playing, so he showed a lot of maturity. We were looking to declare at tea, would have liked another 30-40 runs.”
34th over: New Zealand 96-2 ( Williamson 37, Taylor 31) Ross Taylor? He just can’t resist flapping at Stokes, sending him flying perilously close to gully and down to the boundary for four. But he survives and, with a flick, the umpires pocket the bails.
33rd over: New Zealand 91-2 ( Williamson 36, Taylor 27) Time, with the clock arms nudging towards the half hour, for an over of wrist spin. Joe Denly sends down a neat and tidy maiden, almost drawing Taylor into a false shot.
Ian forth has a question: Didn’t there used to be little hatches under the grass into which you could place a helmet? Whatever happened to them? Disappeared into the same black hole as 8 track cartridges and DVD players, I presume.
32nd over: New Zealand 91-2 ( Williamson 36, Taylor 27) Stokes still causing problems for Ross Taylor, who nearly nudges him to Dom Sibley under the helmet at short leg, before looking awkward in all kinds of ways during the rest of the over.
In response to your rhetorical query regarding late England capitulation in a game otherwise dominated by the bat, I offer one word and a number: Adelaide, 2006. worries Brian Withington (I genuinely feared at the time that Flintoff’s declaration was premature.),
31st over: New Zealand 90-2 ( Williamson 36, Taylor 26) Ooof unlucky! Woakes sends one wide of legstump which Williamson leaves alone, Pope can’t get a hand to either, and it cannons into the helmet. Five runs. The deficit now just 11.
30th over: New Zealand 83-2 ( Williamson 35, Taylor 25) Ross Taylor is hit on the glove as Stokes delivers a short one. Then he ducks into an even shorter one. Then he swipes at another, but doesn’t quite get on top of it. A boundary to finish the over, but I reckon Stokes will be happy with that. Taylor looked frisky and eager for the charge. Jofra Archer goes off the pitch and Matt Parkinson runs enthusiastically on to it, tucking his shirt into his trousers as he goes.
29th over: New Zealand 78-2 ( Williamson 35, Taylor 20) Root gives Chris Woakes a last spell before stumps, a wise choice, he bowled excellently earlier. Williamson eases one through the off side, no power it seems, but what timing, and they run three. The wind must be getting up as we see two men in deck-chairs wrapped up for warmth in their All Blacks towels.
28th over: New Zealand 75-2 ( Williamson 32, Taylor 20) Williamson and Taylor towel down at the end of Stokes’s over. Williamson, I can report, unlike Alastair Cook, does real sweat. Taylor played an ugly swipe-stroke-hook off Stoke’s last ball that could have gone anywhere, but actually went nowhere. The shot of a tired man.
27th over: New Zealand 74-2 ( Williamson 31, Taylor 20) We’re heading into the final half hour. Taylor and Williamson seem pretty secure here, unless England can force an error or the ball suddenly plays tricks, deviating low. Curran tip-toes in, ball angled into Taylor’s toes. A pair of magnificently camp policemen do a round of the ground.
26th over: New Zealand 72-2 ( Williamson 30, Taylor 20) Stokes again; Taylor, bang, four through the off side. These two are inching New Zealand towards parity.
25th over: New Zealand 66-2 ( Williamson 30, Taylor 14) A Curran maiden and this is all a bit sleepy.
Morning Tanya, writes Rob.Or afternoon, here in Bali (thought I’d keep it topical and slip in an annoying brag).Just catching up on the last hour’s events and I notice you’ve dubbed His Lord Kaneness the king of watchful waiting.Now I have this stuck in my head:
24th over: New Zealand 65-2 ( Williamson 30, Taylor 13) Stokes grabs the ball, and immediately makes something happen, striking Williamson right in the guts, tummy button area. Williamson gasps. A maiden.
Abhijato Sensarma has been admiring Williamson from afar. “Williamson blossomed as a public figure during the World Cup. We all knew he was a class batsman, but the mature and witty way in which he handled the press conferences both during and after the event showed what a great man he is. Humility is intrinsic to his behaviour, and he deserves every bit of success he’s got along the way. Here’s a link to a fantastic interview of his at the Oxford Union which everyone - cricket fan or not - should listen to! (Controversial note: I think his beard is better than Kohli’s.)
23nd over: New Zealand 65-2 ( Williamson 30, Taylor 13) Taylor comes out of his shell to pull Curran dirtily for four. And the sun pops out again.
22nd over: New Zealand 59-2 ( Williamson 30, Taylor 8) Time for some Stuart Broad. Dot-to-dot, bar a scribble where Williamson pulls him square lazily.
Zaph Mann is back: Through the medium of Aldred “Brian - of course I know that, it was in the initial days - the first adopters were often boorish boasters. Still relevant - why do a corporate advert with your every message?”
21st over: New Zealand 55-2 ( Williamson 26, Taylor 8) A fat wide from Curran. I got it wrong, by the way, it is Curran Chameleon the Barmy army are singing and singing and singing and singing... At least no-one is trapped on public transport with them, like I was with United and Villa fans yesterday. I wouldn’t object so much if it was more tuneful. Yours, disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.
@tjaldred What degree of pessimism is the worry that NZ will get a lead of 100 early enough tomorrow to bowl England out in a session?
20th over: New Zealand 49-2 ( Williamson 25, Taylor 4) Archer resumes, after clutching his knee in his last over. Root has his arms folded, but looks pretty happy - it’s been a good match for him. Williamson eases the ball through extra-cover for a couple. Karma Chameleon comes on the PA, and the sun has disappeared.
19th over: New Zealand 45-2 ( Williamson 22, Taylor 3) It’s gone all bromantic out there. Stuart Broad puts his hands on Sam Curran’s shoulders - there must been a good 8 inch height gap - and then Ben Stokes does the same to Jofra Archer. Curran has Williamson ducking again, elegantly, though not quite as elegantly as before. A maiden.
18th over: New Zealand 45-2 ( Williamson 22, Taylor 3) Oh, that’s the best moment of cricket of (my part of) the day: a hot potato from Archer, fired in short, and Williamson bends back further, further, further till he’s on his knees, his back horizontal to the ground, and the ball whisks past his helmet. Honestly, it’s wonderful. That is grade 8 flexibility.
Another email! Thank you Ian Forth. Talking of bragging, in the early ‘90s where I worked people still sent out all-agency house notes when they were going on holiday. Most people just said “I’ll be away from the 7th till the 21st” or whatever. Apart from one group of people. They insisted on letting the world know “I will be skiing from the 7th till the 21st”. Then bored you to death with tales of cheese fondue and chalet hi-jinks on their return.
17th over: New Zealand 43-2 ( Williamson 21, Taylor 3) Williamson is perfecting his leave here. Either he’s very, very good at it, or that was a touch risky as Woakes fired one a tooth-comb’s distance away from off-stump. Another excellent over.
Filter-coffee leftovers are certainly a good source of protein for plants, taps Ian Copestake so as far as watering a plant with coffee you are literally on good grounds.
16th over: New Zealand 43-2 ( Williamson 21, Taylor 3) The ball is rubbed repeatedly on Archer’s right thigh. He ambles back, and liquids in. He fires a nasty shot one into Williamson, which Williamson ducks into and it hits him near the elbow, just where the protection ain’t. The commentators want to see more revs on the speedometre.
15th over: New Zealand 42-2 ( Williamson 20, Taylor 3) This:
Chris Woakes is putting on such a masterclass out there right now you half expect @WardyShorts to be stood next to him with a bucket of balls and a cameraman
14th over: New Zealand 41-2 ( Williamson 19, Taylor 3) Another good over, this time from Archer. The ball spits unpredictably off the pitch. Williamson loses temporary control of his mindfulness , then guides him away through, you know, his favourite area, for four.
Hi Tanya, writes Brian Withington..At the risk of disillusioning trend-setting Zaph, I don’t think there’s necessarily any bragging involved in the ‘Sent from my iPhone message’ - I believe it’s a default setting. Talking of default settings, has Kane Williamson always been such a ridiculously good batsman?
13th over: New Zealand 36-2 ( Williamson 14, Taylor 3) Chris Woakes toys with Ross Taylor, sending the cotton reel this way, sending the cotton reel that way. Taylor is tempted. An excellent maiden.
12th over: New Zealand 36-2 ( Williamson 14, Taylor 3) Williamson is up on his toes, trying to deal with Archer, then cramped by one that skids through. Perhaps this pitch is thinking about becoming two-paced, which won’t please the New Zealand batsmen one bit.
Ah, more good vibes for Jeet Raval.
@tjaldred Just to show some love for Jeet Ravel from his local clubs junior side that bears his name. pic.twitter.com/ExKrQuOtru
11th over: New Zealand 33-2 ( Williamson 14, Taylor 1) Just a single off an on-message Woakes.
A messages ping in about Jeet Raval.
10th over: New Zealand 32-2 ( Williamson 14, Taylor 0) The heavyweights are at the crease. Williamson spoils what would have been a maiden from Archer by speeding him through cover for four.
9th over: New Zealand 28-2 ( Williamson 10) It’s a double change, as Broad is sent down to chew the cud and the bristle-bearded Woakes takes over, with immediate effect.
Do cactus plants like cold coffee? I guess I’ll find out.
Another good catch by Root and New Zealand are in a bit of a hole here! A bit of extra bounce from Woakes, a bit of width, and Latham obliges with a push forward and an edge.
8th over: New Zealand 28-1 (Latham 18, Williamson 10) It’s Jofra time! Two long sleeves on today. He sends a couple of deliveries down before handing the ball to the umpire with a question mark. It is delivered back with a full stop. The wind ruffles Archer’s trousers. Williamson watches carefully - one squirts through quite low, then he lets the rest past harmlessly. Speed in the 130-135kph bracket.
Hah! writes Zaph “I put the ‘sent from my Commodore in my email signature years ago when I first received ‘sent from my iPhone’, to take the piss out of the braggers. It started a mini trend - I’ve had replies with ‘Sent from my Maytag” and “Sent from my Commode”
7th over: New Zealand 26-1 (Latham 18, Williamson 8) Stuart Broad has summoned a man in short sleeves carrying a giant iron hammer. He thwacks into the surface to try and even out the footmarks. “More” roars Broad, and points to the other side of the stumps. Latham flicks him off his pads, head over hands, rather nicely for four. Then Ben Stokes dives full throttle to stop a square drive from Latham.
6th over: New Zealand 18-1 (Latham 10, Williamson 8) There’s a few clouds floating about thoughtfully but the weather should hold for the rest of the day - another 30 or so overs left. A quiet over from Curran, five stolen runs.
James Fitzpatrick is still awake, over the Irish sea. “It is amazing how the moon reflecting off windshields can be mistaken for Jack Frost, and warm cumulus mist for freezing fog, as we bask in mid night Julyesque temperatures. Shorts for me tomorrow.
5th over: New Zealand 13-1 (Latham 6, Williamson 6) Broad is slightly stooped as his runs in, as befits his father of the house status, then straightens up in the crease. Root has two slips and two gullies for Williamson, who is the king of watchful waiting.
4th over: New Zealand 12-1 (Latham 6, Williamson 6) Curran again, five dots, carefully played by Williamson, then he prods him through the covers for a couple.
3rd over: New Zealand 10-1 (Latham 6, Williamson 4) Broad on the money, though Latham brusquely sends one to the cover boundary.
An email from Avitaj Mitra:Must say I love Neil Wagner running in to bowl. Me too! He pretty much personifies the word “wholehearted”.About England’s chances to win.. yay or nay in your opinion?
2nd over: New Zealand 5-1 (Latham 1, Williamson 4) Oh my, the replays seem to show that Raval did get an edge onto his pad. Quite a large one. His confidence is obviously so shot that he didn’t trust himself to judge. My days. Anyway. Williamson angles his bat and sends the ball on its merry familiar route down to the third man boundary.
Another bad day at the office for Raval, pushes forward second ball, absolutely plum. No stay of execution from his partner and off he trudges.
1st over: New Zealand 1-0 (Latham 1, Raval 0) I don’t want to sound too rock n roll, but I missed the first few balls of this innings after mislaying my hot water bottle. Settle down in time to see New Zealand go for a ridiculously optimistic single, the ball went to Zak Crawley at midwicket who threw. An inch more accurate and Raval would have been out without needing the help of the third ump.
Hello Tanya, writes Zaph Mann. In case you missed the morning Bumble was talking about the game “Owzat!”, I had the as a kid but found 1) there were too many wickets and 2) You couldn’t get away with playing during school classes.
After Daniel oversaw a wicket-less first half of the day, I’ve watched England lose 5-21 in half a session without even moving my lips. A wonderful innings by Root, a solid to good one by Pope. Five wickets for Wagner, carved in sweat and gurning. The players take tea, with England ahead of the game, but the weather dubious for tomorrow. Let’s see what Archer and Broad can cook up with the new ball.
Gosh, I’ve just seen the Craig McMillain get-up on Sky that was mentioned earlier - he’s come as Dick van Dyke.
Broad misses a straight one, a three ball run-less cameo.
The ball after stacking his legs apart and posting Wagner for a huge six over the fence, Archer drags a full slower ball back onto his stumps. Great double bluff by the world’s busiest bowler.
162nd over: England 468-8 (Archer 1, Curran 6) Curran eyes up Southee and slaps him with an old frying pan through the covers for four. They slide through for a couple of singles and the lead edges up to 95.
161st over: England 464-8 (Archer 1, Curran 6) Wagner runs in again. Archer does a bit of housework, brushing flakes of dust away from the crease, before greeting the ball with a defensive prod.
Is Pope the answer to England’s middle order prayers? asks OB Jato.
160th over: England 463-8 (Archer 0, Curran 3) A pause, while England regain some sanity breath. Three singles.
Good morning again Tanya
159th over: England 460-8 (Archer 0, Curran 3)Wagner steams in, slightly angled approach from the right of my television. Imagine a stepping stone path, with Wagner pushing stones further and further into the soil with each steaming step. Archer lets his two balls pass safely by. The England lead is 85.
Woakes fancies a bit of a swish, half bends the knee, throws the bat and edges behind to Watling. Bish, bash, boosh, England are tumbling away. That was the third wicket to fall for 5 runs, in 12 balls.
158th over: England 459-7 (Woakes 0, Curran 2) We watch Root trudge off, a hint of a smile on his face. As there should be. That has bought him time, if time is what he wants.
And the great redemption song comes to an end. Root dances down the wicket and slaps the ball to deep extra cover to give Santner his first wicket of the game. Williamson and others chase after him to shake his hand as he walks off.
157th over: England 457-6 (Root 222, Curran 0) Well played Ollie Pope. Still staggered by the unselfishness of that shot - self-sacrifice might seem a good idea on paper, but it is a very different thing to actually carry out. It was his highest Test score in a partnership of 193 with Root.
Pope gives it some welly as, seemingly, instructed. He tries to pull a wide one from Wagner and is caught out in the deep. That was a very unselfish shot, just 25 short of his century.
156th over: England 450-5 (Root 221, Pope 74) Pope and Root scurry between the wickets, pushing here, tipping there. Perhaps they’ll give themselves till tea. Can Pope squeeze the other 26 runs he needs?
Meanwhile, Ian Forth throws a scrap down from his statistical bed, “If Root can get to 228, he’ll have the third highest score for an English test batsman against New Zealand. He’ll struggle to crack the top two though - Hammond and Edrich both scored triple tons.”
155th over: England 445-5 (Root 218, Pope 72) I think there was something in that there water at drinks. First Root slaps the ball straight into Wagner’s leg. Then Pope has a huge slog, baseball style straight down the ground for four, then an upper-cut. Frisky.
154th over: England 437-5 (Root 215, Pope 67) Thanks Daniel for safely guiding Root to his double-century and Pope to fifty, and a big hello to everyone else. Santner sends one gently past Pope’s edge and he gets all-in-a-fix momentarily, but survives.
The advertising panel next to the OBO is offering me a facelift in a bottle, which seems a bit harsh - it is 1.51am (GMT) after all. Don’t expect miracles.
153rd over: England 435-5 (Root 214, Pope 66) Wagner returns for another spell of self-flagellation and Root splices a mow that drops just short of the sliding Williamson, who ends up on top of the ball. They run one, and I wonder if we’ll see him get close to a triple century; it’s certainly going for him, because after Pope adds a single, another inside edge takes the ball close to the stumps before Watling parries it just wide of the helmet. They run two, and that was an exceedingly odd over bowled.
Right, that’s drinks, and Tanya Aldred is here to coax you through to the end of the day.
152nd over: England 431-5 (Root 211, Pope 65) It’s good of England to put some overs into the NZ bowlers’ legs before they go to Australia later this month. Santner comes back on, and Pope, who’s scoring more easily now, takes one to leg before Root does likewise to long off.
151st over: England 429-5 (Root 210, Pope 64) Here we go! Root gets a leading edge to Henry’s first ball that drops just short of him, then caresses a gorgeous straight six back over the bowler’s heed. Two singles follow, and the lead is now 54, but it’s worth remembering that rain is expected tomorrow afternoon so they’ll be better getting NZ in sooner rather than later, even if it means they need to thrash 80 runs at some point.
150th over: England 421-5 (Root 203, Pope 63) Root’s highest Test score is 254, which he got against Pakistan in 2016; there’s no reason to think he won’t pass that today. He gets two closer by clipping Mitchell’s first ball off his pads then, after a single, Pope murders a wide slower ball for four. He loves that shot square of the wicket, though I’d even have backed myself to give that the treatment, so miserable was it.
“Please wish James Debens the best of the season, with my Holiday Songs XI,” says Mac Millings.
149th over: England 414-5 (Root 200, Pope 59) The field comes in to deny Root an easy single, and when he bangs a drive to cover, Santner dives to field. AND THERE IT IS! CLASS IS PERMANENT! Root defends a corner into the ground, sets off on a boust, and Pope hurls himself to the strikers’ end ... direct hit and he’s gawn, but the throw misses! What an innings this has been! The two batsmen embrace in the middle, then chuckle at the run out that wasn’t between overs.
148th over: England 413-5 (Root 199, Pope 59) Pope thrashes a single to deep cover - he’s picked out the fielders a lot today, but he’s finding the middle of the bat nicely. Root then takes another single off his pads - he’s now one away from some red hot base 10 action; the nervous 190s have been negotiated with ease and speed. Pope then drives two to long off, and Root will have strike at the start of the next over.
147th over: England 409-5 (Root 198, Pope 56) Pope keeps ticking along – two singles to him from this latest Henry over, Henry having replaced Southee – and one to Root.
146th over: England 406-5 (Root 197, Pope 54) Mitchell returns and Root, caught on the crease, immediately administers the thick inside edge; for the second time today, the ball only just passes the stumps. the run two, which raises England’s 400, and the next delivery is the 400th he’s faced. He’s getting close to what’d be his third Test double ton, and two more to midwicket take him to 193 before an expert’s dab to the third man fence adds another four. Root is now one of England’s top 10 run scorers, as noted by Michael Meagher. “He’ll surely finish his career no worse than second on that list,” he says.
145th over: England 398-5 (Root 189, Pope 54) Root cuts behind square and Mitchell parries, so they run two, then he deflects a single to leg.
186* - @EnglandCricket's Joe Root has eclipsed his previous best Test score away from home of 182* which he had set against the West Indies at St George's in April 2015. Reverberate.#NZvENG pic.twitter.com/vEIMtF9LJK
144th over: England 395-5 (Root 186, Pope 54) In lopes Santner, as threatening as a pair of rubber y-fronts, and England add five more singles. Surely they’ll want 45 minutes or so to have at NZ this evening, so need to get a wriggle on.
143rd over: England 390-5 (Root 183, Pope 52) Bumble is properly talking about Bairstow as a potential England Test opener. I’ve not clue, really I do not – his mentality and technique seem so ill-suited to that role. Five off this latest Southee over.
“A friendly rebuttal from Kolkata,” says Abhijato Sensarma. “ood morning to Mr Banerjee! I live in Kolkata myself, and can account for the atmosphere he misses. Cricket is something everyone has some knowledge of in the city. It can be a means of bonding with anyone from a new schoolmate to one’s boss at the office to any random soul you meet in a bus ... The city breathes sports, which people often find as a means of escape, and an opportunity to be a part of something much grander then themselves. The OBO community has been a wonderful place for a cricket fanatic like me too. The warmth in its coverage and correspondence is one of the best things about following the sport. A heartfelt thanks to all involved in it!”
142nd over: England 385-5 (Root 181, Pope 49) Pope gets another run close with a cut to deep point - he likes that shot a lot. Root then nearly feathers a catch to backward point, takes a single to cover, and there it is! Pope bangs a drive to point, it’s fumbled, and he eases through - well batted you mortifyingly young and accomplished individual who already knows joy I will never comprehend.
141st over: England 383-5 (Root 180, Pope 48) But he almost rinses himself, pinned on the crease by Southee and under-edging just past the stumps, before playing four more dots and turning one to midwicket. England are on the charge!
140th over: England 382-5 (Root 180, Pope 47) Santner keeps going – I wonder if they’ll try getting after him. Root takes one to point and Pope does likewise to cover. I daresay he’ll free his arms if he can nurdle just three more.
“There’ll be no Return of the Mac, Millings!” says James Debens.
139th over: England 380-5 (Root 179, Pope 46) Southee has the ball and begins with a leg-side sighter, after which Root takes one to cover and the commentators snigger at a bloke minding his own business enjoying an ice cream. Hilarious.
“Did you realise when you referred to shmondery it is now the only reference in an English article to the word in Google,” emails Carl Jepson. “The other five references appear to be in Russian. Was that a bet amongst the OBO team. If so, well played sir.”
Righto, we’re set to go again...
In other choking up news, Kishalay Banerjee emails: “As a graduate student living in a rented room in Bristol, I have missed watching cricket on television for the last year (except the World Cup, which I caught at the pub). Although arguably, I miss the intense discussions of our small group of cricketing enthusiasts back in Kolkata even more, mostly due to the time difference. The OBO has been my main source of cricketing information this year, and more than the updates, I have especially enjoyed the emails and anecdotes sent in by the other readers. They’ve made me feel that I am connected to the global community of lovers of this beautiful game, even while sitting in a room late at night. Today, I finally came around to adding my two pence to it, and to mention how grateful I am that such a forum exists.”
The great Rob Smyth created that community - I like to see it as a kind of online TMS.
Sky have just played a long interview with Mark Wood talking us through the World Cup final, which is to say that I am absolutely gone, yet again. I imagine it’ll be available online and, if not, it’s part of some Xmas special or other. Don’t miss it – he’s a brilliant and compelling talker.
And seeing as we were talking about Gordon Greenidge, here’s this.
Related: West Indian epic: when Gordon Greenidge unleashed hell on Australia
Anyway, lunchtime reading:
Related: Like the greats before him, David Warner's triple century was a giant feat in a dull game | Geoff Lemon
That was excellent from Root, who moved things along nicely, while Pope will be better for having gutsed that out. He needs just four to get to his maiden Test fifty, but will be fancying something bigger than that.
138th over: England 379-5 (Root 178, Pope 46) When was the last time England batted a session for no wickets lost? Er, yesterday, but over the last couple of years they’ve been bowled out in a session more often, I shouldn’t wonder. Root takes one from Santner’s over, and that’s lunch.
137th over: England 378-5 (Root 177, Pope 46) In comes Mitchell again for what’s probably the penultimate over before lunch, and following a single, England take the lead when Pope cracks four to backward point. Each run is worth double now, except for the fact that it isn’t.
“Oi Debens! Get off ma turf!” advises Mac Millings.
136th over: England 373-5 (Root 176, Pope 42) On reflection, I feel like I did the word shmondery a disservice – it generally describes something badly made and/or cheap, rather than just something rubbish; please forgive me. The batsmen take a single each from Santner, and the lead is two.
135th over: England 371-5 (Root 175, Pope 41) In commentary, they’re reminiscing about a catch Don Topley took in the 1984 series England played against West Indies. That’s actually the first series I remember - or, at least I remember Greenidge’s double ton at OT - but YouTube is silent on the grab, so let’s enjoy this one instead. One off the over.
134th over: England 370-5 (Root 175, Pope 40) Another Santner over, two singles from it, and Pope is up to 40 – a decent effort given he’s not been middling it.
“You might be the final arbiter on this one,” says John Starbuck. “My wife occasionally uses the term ‘no schmutter’ to indicate something of high value, whereas I feel it applies only in the garment industry. Who is correct? Many thanks for marital harmony.”
133rd over: England 368-5 (Root 174, Pope 39) Mitchell returns; would it be better to be called Daryl Mitchell or Mitchell Daryl? Is Daryl Mitchell intended to rhyme? Pope takes a single towards point, then Root flows two to cover and bunts one to square leg.
132nd over: England 364-5 (Root 171, Pope 38) Santner offers Root a little more pace, so he opens the face to steer four through third man; then top edges a slog sweep that lands safely as they run two; the sweeps nicely in front of square for four. That’s ten off the over and the hunnert partnership; have England gone?
131st over: England 354-5 (Root 161, Pope 38) Pope takes one to cover, then Root does likewise. If the scores are roughly level at lunch, then do England thrash to put time back in the match, or bat sensibly to maximise their lead?
130th over: England 352-5 (Root 160, Pope 37) Santner fiddles through another over which yields a single from its final ball, slapped by Pope to point.
“Speaking of Monopoly (which you weren’t, but the commentators were, apparently)“ says David Horn, “I once heard a radio interview with an expert who shared his strategy for maximising the chances of winning. With Christmas and, no doubt, long afternoons of board games coming up, perhaps some OBO’ers might benefit from them.
129th over: England 351-5 (Root 160, Pope 36) Pope takes one to square leg, the only run off the over. We’ve been playing two hours, but have another half-hour to go because of the early start.
128th over: England 350-5 (Root 160, Pope 35) What do New Zealand do now? England have played a few false shots this morning and one or two were close to hitting the stumps, but they’re not exerting much pressure now. One off Santner’s over.
127th over: England 349-5 (Root 160, Pope 34) Nice from Pope, cutting Henry’s fourth ball for four to backward point, after Root nurdles a single to leg. Pope adds one more, and the lead is now down to 26; England should eliminate that before lunch, and can then see what’s what in the afternoon.
James Debens is back! “Dev, Doosra, Beefy, Mick & Katich; ECB40; The Brian Closetown Massacre; The Botany Bay City Rollers; Peter, Chanderpaul & Mary; Tendulkarsticks; Dravid Bowie and the Spiderlegs From Mitch Marsh; KP and the Sightscreen Band; Fat Freddie’s Dropped; Benaud & The Jets; Brotherhood Of Simon Mann.”
126th over: England 343-5 (Root 159, Pope 29) In commentary, they’re talking about what they liked buying in Monopoly, which tells you all you need to know about how compelling the action isn’t. Luckily, we’ve got this conversation and me detailing this conversation to sustain us; three singles off the over.
125th over: England 340-5 (Root 157, Pope 28) England make up for that fruitful over by taking just three from the next, one dabbed by Root to third man, two flicked by Pope into the leg side.
124th over: England 337-5 (Root 156, Pope 26) After Pope twists to midwicket, Root guides four to fine leg, and three singles follow; that’s more like it.
“Fish fingers” says Gilad McAteer, which is a chirpse if ever I’ve heard one. “Not your Asda smart price (although i did live off them at uni so no disrespect intended), but Birds Eye over any fancy gastropubs attempt any day. Cheers, whats the score again?”
123rd over: England 329-5 (Root 150, Pope 24) Root’s 150 came off 335 balls, which is an absolute load by any standard, never mind his. He’s facing when Henry returns, playing out a maiden.
150 UP FOR ROOT!The England skipper reaches another milestone and he is not done yet. England are 329-5, trailing by 46. Watch #NZvENG live: https://t.co/wYNsfbEQk3 Live blog: https://t.co/TpG1C2BO3y pic.twitter.com/rzp1J5pxbY
122nd over: England 329-5 (Root 150, Pope 24) Santner, who had just one over earlier, returns; there’s not a whole lot happening for him, and after a single to each batsman, Root works another off his pads that raises his 150. He raises his bat, but in businesslike manner; there’s work yet to do.
121st over: England 326-5 (Root 148, Pope 23) Root flicks to leg for two; are we saying a daddy is 150+? I think I’d go 170+. Anyway, he’s a run closer when he chops to point and calls for two but adds one; Pope then cracks for to backward point, and my days he’s worked hard for that, by far his best shot of the morning.
120th over: England 314-5 (Root 145, Pope 19) Pope takes one, then a shorter one from Mitchell takes tiiiiime to arrive at Root, who sends it away to fine leg for four. A further single follows.
“Surely everyone can agree a proper greasy spoon fry up is better than any fancy-dancy bottomless brunch offer. Pound for pound the best meal out there,” emails Chef Pig and Fiddle.
119th over: England 313-5 (Root 140, Pope 18) Wagner resumes and Root nudges to cover, raising the 50 partnership; Pope then does similarly. So, at what point do England move? I guess that pace of the pitch makes that tricky in any case, but they’ve got two batsmen in and a series to save.
118th over: England 311-5 (Root 139, Pope 17) Mitchell finds a spot of bounce but directs the ball at Root’s pads; he helps it around the corner for one. The gap between the sides is now 64, and that’s drinks.
117th over: England 310-5 (Root 138, Pope 17) Eeesh! Wagner attacks Root from around and Root stretches forward to impart and inside edge that goes into his back foot and misses leg stump by a breath. Next ball, Root dabs down to third man and they run one; that’s it with the scoring for the over.
116th over: England 309-5 (Root 137, Pope 17) Pope reminds himself to watch the ball as he plays out a maiden from Mitchell –the second of the day.
“I’m watching the Sky coverage as well as following the OBO - I’m sure plenty of others do this. No? Oh.” begins Matt Emerson. “Anyhoo, Craig McMillan’s getup raised eyebrows here too, not only because of what he was wearing (a flat cap! Indoors!) but because it was so ill-fitting I suspect he’d borrowed them off someone else. On the ‘sharing bag’ discussion I’ll put a shout in for the M&S giant buttons. Fancy.”
115th over: England 309-5 (Root 137, Pope 17) A single to each batsman and Root’s first false shot of the morning, an inside edge of Wagner into his pad.
“Of the maligned Bicknell, Ilott, McCague, Caddick, Gooch, Thorpe 1993 attack,” says Ian Forth, “half of them were still playing test cricket for England in 2003. Fair to say Thorpe was no longer a significant component in the bowling discussions, though. What did he bowl, can you remember?”
114th over: England 307-5 (Root 136, Pope 16) Mitchell into the attack with the NZ lead 73, and Root clips a single off his toes to reduce it yet further as in commentary they complain about how many interruptions there’ve been to play, for kit to come on and off and such. Pope then flashes at a wideish one, inside-edging for four - he looks pleased with that.
“Sorry, but did you say beer and a tab at 14?” asks Peter Salmon. “I can see how that bowling attack might have made anyone reach for the acid, but it still seems a little precocious to me. Or is that just how funky Guardian OBO types have to be?”
113th over: England 302-5 (Root 135, Pope 12) In theory, this is a good test for Pope: can he stay calm and patient when it’s not going for him? Santner comes into the attack, and when Root takes his first ball for one, he has five more at yerman; all are dots, but there’s encouragement for the bowler, when Pope pushes at one with hard hands.
“In our younger days my brother and I played a two dice version of Owzthat,” says Phil Withall. “You would initially roll one dice with runs being scored for every number except 5. If a 5 was rolled then two dice were rolled to determine either a dot ball or a method of dismissal. Obviously cheating was rampant and brotherly arguments frequent. We also had a dice football game, the name of which I can’t remember but I recall it being pretty underwhelming...”
Absolutely LOVE this from the South Africa-New Zealand OBO. pic.twitter.com/TOzxcFqjsp
112th over: England 301-5 (Root 134, Pope 12) It’s not flowing for Pope so far, but he forces one away into the leg side by attempting to drive into the off. Wagner, who’s going around to Root, is driven to backward point for one, as Athers talks about how the best education he could’ve had was at the other end to the aforementioned Gooch, who somehow became extra-brilliant at the end of his career; in pretty much any other sport, you’d have wondered if he was doping.
111th over: England 299-5 (Root 133, Pope 11) Root is in touch now. One from Southee stays low, and he adjusts beautifully to pull four; Athers says he’s in the top four England batsmen he’s seen, along with Gooch, Gower and Pietersen. I can’t argue with that, although the best batting I’ve seen across a series was I Ronald Bell of the eponymous Bell’s Ashes, 2013.
One to which we can all look forward:
Related: England set to recall Keaton Jennings in Sri Lanka to help counter spin
110th over: England 295-5 (Root 129, Pope 11) Pope takes a single to leg, then Root has time to floss his teeth and compose a witty yet pithy tweet while a bouncer from Wagner sits up; he uppercuts for four. A pulled single follows – there is literally nothing that doesn’t come pulled these days – and that’s your over.
“Jerusalem Singers Part II,” says James Debens. “REO Speedgun, Kiss My Chaminda Vaas, Googly Withers and the Bowljobs, The Detroit Spinners, Buddy Hollioake & The Crickets, Never Go Full Eddie Hemmings, The Crazy World Of Ali Brown, Geoff Lemon and The Plastic OBO Band, Khawajagoogoo, The Bonzo Rabada Band.”
109th over: England 289-5 (Root 124, Pope 10) I love the phrase “daddy hundred”, mainly because it comes from someone you don’t really think of as a phrasemaker, and because it was popularised not by its progenitor, Graham Gooch, but by someone he drummed it into into whom he drummed it, Alastair Cook. Root then proves the original point, if there was such a thing, by opening the face to run Southee down for four.
“I rejected Owzthat in favour of a more complex scoring system using two dice,” tweets Martin Connolly. “In my defence, weekends in the 60s/70s could get rather tedious.”
108th over: England 285-5 (Root 120, Pope 10) Right then, here comes Wagner; tangentially, I contend that, of the “sharing bag” chocolate genre, Crunchie Rocks are easily the best. Root hauls a pull to fine leg for one, the only run off the over; he looks there for a daddy.
107th over: England 284-5 (Root 119, Pope 10) Craig McMillan is wearing a cardigan, tie and flat cap; no further questions yer honour. Root clips a single off his tootsies, the only run from the over.
106th over: England 283-5 (Root 118, Pope 10) Root takes another single into the covers as Wagner stretches and Pope is beaten again outside off; I’m not really sure what he’s trying to play there, because he’s pushed sown the wrong line at one that he could’ve left.
105th over: England 282-5 (Root 117, Pope 10) Bumble is talking about Owthzat, which tells you all you need to know. Next: kids’ TV, golf, wine. My old fella has an original Owzthat set, which is pretty posh for 50s Cheetham Hill – most people scraped off the ends of pencils. Maiden.
104th over: England 282-5 (Root 117, Pope 10) A single to each batsman; there’s not a whole lot going on out there.
“Just been watching the very wonderful Seven Worlds, One Planet, North America,” says Kim Thonger, “and it strikes me that at the rate polar bears are evolving, to hunt beluga whales instead of their traditional prey, for example, they’ll soon be able to play cricket and frankly I don’t fancy the fragile England batting unit against them. Maybe we should avoid the contest and set up a series against the friendly looking prairie dogs, whose bowling line-up looks far less formidable.”
103rd over: England 280-5 (Root 116, Pope 9) There’s some of that up and downness! Southee fires down a pea-roller that rushes past Root’s bat and just past his off peg; that’s great news for England in its way, if they can fulfil their part of the bargain. Four byes follow, then Root pushes a single to cover and Southee beats Pope, who lazily waves bat at one outside off.
“The sage-faced adults who stand to sing Jerusalem, with actions, need a group name,” says James Debens. “Not The Artichokes, but what? The Ropey Boundaries? The Red Wine Tans?”
102nd over: England 275-5 (Root 115, Pope 9) Jack Leach’s health has improved - he’s still in hospital, but should be good to go home with the rest of the team on Wednesday. Pope drags two to leg, the only runs from the over.
101st over: England 273-5 (Root 115, Pope 7) Root feathers Southee away to point for one; Southee has the slips wider than usual, which makes sense against Root. Pope adds a single more.
“The 1989 Ashes series was the last time I had a dry series, as I was only 17 at the time,” says Simon McMahon. “So I blame English cricket, and in particular Phil Newport and John Stephenson, for the fact that my liver has had to endure thirty years of hurt since then. Never stopped me dreaming though. Come on England!”
100th over: England 271-5 (Root 114, Pope 6) Pope chases a wide one and forces it away to backward point for two. A bunch of sage-faced adults stand to sing Jerusalem, with actions. I know. They applaud themselves subsequently.
Matt Henry has the ball to finish his over from last evening...
Right then, let’s get involved.
He seems an exceedingly sound individual.
He also says his white-line fever comes from how hard you have to work to get to play international cricket. He doesn’t have the skills the likes of Anderson do, he explains, so has to have a proper engine. He’s currently third in the Test rankings.
Neil Wagner tells Athers that however flat a pitch, batting last to save a Test isn’t fun. He says that the pitches in this series aren’t typical of NZ, and that young bowlers need to play on a variety of tracks so that they can do everything, but you learn your craft when you’re not getting help.
I really hope we get a good chunk of Ollie Pope today. He looks to have everything necessary to be very good, and it’s just a matter of when he puts it all together.
“‘...once the scores are round about level, he’ll step on it’”? says Harkran Sumal. “Man alive, sound the hubris klaxon! Looking at what’s to come after these two, I’d take parity, and would be dancing in the streets if offered 400. Steady on!”
That’s how I think he’ll play it if he can. Parity doesn’t get England anywhere.
He thinks England need to get well past NZ if they can, and the surface is deteriorating so he can see the game speeding up.
Root tells Ian Ward that he’s been working hard, “Trying to get rhythm back into my hands, pick them up a bit more, that generally gets my feet going. Little things that don’t look much on the screen make a huge difference,” he says, and also that he was “trying to be over-perfect”.
Ian Smith thinks the pitch is getting a bit up and down, but not quickly enough to help New Zealand today. “You can play on this for a fortnight and nobody will spin it,” says Bumble.
It’d be classic captain-era Root for him to get out early this morning, and he’ll know that. I’d expect him to go carefully to being with, then once the scores are round about level he’ll step on it.
“Reasons to be cheerful, part one,” says Andrew Chappell. “I have really been enjoying imagining myself on those lovely sunny, grassy banks, in NZ. The grounds are idyllic.
Of course, I am stuck in the early winter doldrums here in Montreal at the moment, so in fact, cold November rain in London would look almost as appealing.”
“Evening Daniel, evening everyone,” emails Harkarn Sumal. “I watched the first 90 minutes last night before toddling off to bed. It seemed that New Zealand’s seamers were just hammering away on a middle and leg line to Joe Root, well back of a length, and that on this featherbed of a wicket, this approach was simply feeding paddles and pulls. I know Wagner loves banging it in all day long, but what exactly were they trying to achieve there? It’s not as if they were packing the field on that side to dry us up with leg theory. It made for very odd viewing. I went off up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire with a furrowed brow. Any light to shed?”
I guess they were trying to make him antsy by drying up the runs, but it didn’t work. I agree it’s kind of odd though – tempting him to drive and flash seems a better strategy.
A friend of ours and student of this thing of ours, Rob Smyth, suggests that England’s 2000-01 visit to Pakistan was the last time they played a series this dry. I guess that’s been mainly forgotten in the joy of the climax.
Reminder: we’ll be starting half an hour earlier this morning, to help compensate for time we’ve lost.
We’re all friends here and friends need to be honest with each other, so let’s be honest about this: it’s a long, long time since England played a series as dull as this series has been. And no, this isn’t something I think because England are poised to lose it – like all normal people, I take enormous pleasure in watching the team I support suffer – but is something I think because the pitches have been as dull as these pitches have been.
Of course you want conditions to be different around the world, of course you don’t want every pitch to be green; of course you enjoy slow periods, of course you don’t want matches done in fewer than four days. But you should want every track, however flat, to offer something to the bowlers – whether pace, bounce or turn – and you should want every track, however flat, to have some character.Continue reading...