Youngsters reinvigorate England
James Anderson fully vindicated his recall to the England team in Wellington and you have to think that only bad weather can prevent England from levelling the series now.
They only need to add 250 more to their overnight score to make sure New Zealand are completely out of the game, and that would leave plenty of time for them to chip away and bowl the Kiwis out a second time.
The pitch is still giving seam bowlers a little help, but it seemed to be the bounce that the batsmen struggled to cope with on day two.
Anderson revelled in conditions which encouraged him to swing the ball dangerously, and with Stuart Broad taking the crucial wicket of Brendon McCullum just when New Zealand were launching a counter attack, thanks to a lovely catch at first slip by Andrew Strauss, and Tim Ambrose having played a potentially match-winning innings, this team looks revitalised – not hard I admit – with youngsters adding ambition to their youthful enthusiasm.
Ambrose looked a different batsmen first thing, barely able to put bat on ball, and reached his 100 with an edge through the slips, but he kept wicket tidily again. Dare we hope that England have finally found their man in the vital wicket-keeper/batsman role?
The standard of ground fielding, meanwhile, was generally much improved, although Monty Panesar was guilty of a couple of genuine howlers as two fours passed straight through his legs.
For New Zealand, Ross Taylor played the innings of the day, and he looks a very well organised batsman, confirming the good impression he made in scoring his maiden Test hundred in Hamilton.
Stephen Fleming passed 7,000 runs in Test cricket before playing a desperately limp shot to Anderson which saw him caught at point, while Matthew Sinclair and Jacob Oram both committed the cardinal sin of suggesting the umpire had made a mistake in giving them out.
Sinclair walked off shaking his head, although the TV 'snicko' immediately confirmed that he had edged a catch behind, and, worse still, Oram thumped the inside edge of his bat with his hand to suggest that he had edged the ball into his pads when he was given lbw.
The umpires have a tough enough job without players resorting to these tactics.