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Two captains and two decisions dominate the day

Jonathan Agnew | 19:42 UK time, Sunday, 18 May 2008

Michael Vaughan produced the ideal response for his critics with a lovely hundred, his sixth at Lord's and his first for 15 innings. It was a good knock, too, given that the ball continued to seam around all day and New Zealand were always amongst the wickets.

Throughout his struggle, Vaughan has never looked out of form, and that has been his greatest frustration. Today he drove with all his customary fluency and only perished at the end as he attempted to loft Daniel Vettori over midwicket.

Vaughan and the openers apart, the rest of England's batting found it hard-going. Chris Martin, in particular, was quite a handful - the delivery which Alastair Cook edged to Brendon McCullum bordered on the unplayable - and young Tim Southee was unlucky not to pick up a single wicket. The most successful, however, was Vettori who took his 250th Test wicket and again showed what flight and variation can do for a finger spinner when the conditions offer him nothing.

The question now is if England can possibly prey on New Zealand's fragile confidence and experience to force an unlikely win. It seems impossible for the visitors to conjure a victory, but they are going to have to bat well - and at least until tea on the final day - if they are to deny England.

Meanwhile, since all we usually read about is criticism of umpiring decisions, it is time to highlight two brilliant decisions today by Simon Taufel and Steve Bucknor. First, Taufel judged to the inch that Andrew Strauss was lbw to Jacob Oram, despite the ball not coming back into the left hander from over the wicket. That is always a difficult call because it usually means the ball would have pitched outside leg stump - this one did not. And while Kevin Pietersen will not have been thrilled by Bucknor's decision to despatch him lbw off Vettori, replays showed that, although he was well forward, the ball would have hit middle and leg stump.

Hawk Eye has made a big difference, and spinners in particular are beginning to benefit.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I thought that Vaughan looked more comfortable at the crease than I've seen him of late - many of his shots were things of beauty, with the odd 'ugly' thrown in to keep us on the edge of our seats. If we can just persuade Monty to vary his pace, summer would be looking a better prospect than I'd anticipated!

    Test cricket is, without doubt, the elegant older sister to the young Twenty20 rebel - erudite, enthralling, a fully developed and rounded game.

  • Comment number 2.

    You're right to highlight two particularly good decisions by the umpires, but they made some bad decisions too, particularly not giving one of New Zealand's openers out LBW to Panesar, which looked out in the instant reply and which Hawkeye suggested was out too. That decision means New Zealand still have ten wickets intact going into the last day, which could change the outcome of the match.

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree that those two decisions were excellent pieces of umpiring. However I am puzzled at how if they feel confident giving those decisions they can ignore Monty's shouts for lbw when they are as plum as I have ever seen. In the first innings he had McCullum trapped in front three times and none were given. They same happened today in his first over.

    I wonder whether Vettori would have had the same decison?

  • Comment number 4.

    If there had been less time lost to rain wouldn't New Zealand now be marginal favorites in this match? England's batting rarely got on top of Martin in New Zealand or here and has always found Vettori hard to get away.

    I wouldn't fancy England getting over 250 in a hypothetical last innings here.
    Considering the conditions batted in in the test so far, (and taking into account Lord's nerves on debut for the Kiwi's inexperienced upper order) haven't New Zealand cause to think they have performed the better of the two sides?

    Barring a collapse tomorrow I would say that New Zealand could take a lot of confidence into the game next week and will prove a stern test for Vaughan's men.

    England have had two opportunities to kill the game - once with New Zealand at 100-5 and today on a great batting pitch, and grasped it at neither time. I don't think that there is the gulf between the sides that pre-series banter has suggested.

  • Comment number 5.

    quite right, NZ have the better of it and, so long as they bat well, can take the "honours" in a draw. that should have the rabid pommie press doing a rethink - though probably not. it'll be an "exception" or a "one-off" ... don't expect any credit. and if the kiwis do win the series, it'll be because England failed, not because NZ were better - according to the press.

    fantastic to see Dan the Man taking a five-for to get on the honours board, including his 250th wicket. he's really relishing being skipper now i think and some of his decisions in rotating his bowlers have been superb. well done that glassy one!

  • Comment number 6.

    I fell asleep during the tea-break(don't tsk tsk me, it was 3am!) but I was impressed by our(NZ) bowlers yet again cleaning up the mess left by our batsmen.

    This match really has just been a continuation of that series just past...mediocre/solid performances with one or two standouts per side. For England it was Vaughan, and for NZ it was Vettori and Martin. Have been impressed especially with Vettori's captaincy. Didn't think he'd be up to following in Fleming's footsteps, but he's proving me wrong.

    As an aside, it will be interesting to watch how Broad and Southee progress with their international careers. Lots of similarities between the two, both young and with lots of potential. Hopefully they can stay injury-free.

  • Comment number 7.

    You have admired correct umpiring decisions. You should have also pointed out Steve Buckner did not ruling Vaughan lbw.
    croatiatwo

  • Comment number 8.

    Bucknor ruled Sreesanth not out to a straight one from Panesar allowing India to escape with a draw against England last year. He was dismal in the India vs Aus Sydney test.

  • Comment number 9.

    'The question now is if England can possibly prey on New Zealand's fragile confidence and experience to force an unlikely win'.

    Come again? NZ were by far the more confident of the two teams yesterday, and they are experienced enough against an English side who really are only second rate and still bumbling through a lengthy rebuilding faze following Ashes 2005.

    I pick NZ to score 300 today and bowl a panic stricken and fragile England out for 170 odd, winning it and silencing the desperate press.

    The only man who can stop that happening is RS and that will depend on whether or not he can generate enough swing and in these cool conditions I doubt that very much.

  • Comment number 10.

    Middle order failed - again! Broad got more runs than Pietersen, Collingwood, Bell and Ambrose put together! One of either Bell or Collingwood will have to go. Collingwood is England's captain in waiting, his bowling is getting better and his fielding is superb. Get your coat, Bell!

  • Comment number 11.

    A century by the home captain and a five wicket haul by the rival captain were the highlights of day four. Congrats to centurion Michael Vaughan and to allrounder Dan Vettori.

  • Comment number 12.

    In response to Estersak who wrote that:

    "You're right to highlight two particularly good decisions by the umpires, but they made some bad decisions too, particularly not giving one of New Zealand's openers out LBW to Panesar, which looked out in the instant reply and which Hawkeye suggested was out too. That decision means New Zealand still have ten wickets intact going into the last day, which could change the outcome of the mach."

    Replays also show that Vaughan should have been out on 61. The umpire gave the batsman the benefit of the doubt in both cases.

    Aggers is right. The umpiring has been of a very high standard.

  • Comment number 13.

    what a shame England lost the initiative...
    Cook and Strauss provided such a good platform too. They definitely coped with the worst of the conditions better than any of the New Zealanders.

    and yes, croatiatwo, Vaughn was plumb and not given by Bucknor. but he made the most of that bit of luck and, as far as i can remember, he didn't give any other chances until later on when he was cutting loose a bit more. a good innings under pressure, but i'm sure he would've liked to have still been out there at an England declaration with a lead of 150...

    mention to Broad who i thought held up an end well. a good contender for night watchman duty in the future, when he's got a few more matches under his belt.



  • Comment number 14.

    "Middle order failed - again! Broad got more runs than Pietersen, Collingwood, Bell and Ambrose put together! One of either Bell or Collingwood will have to go. Collingwood is England's captain in waiting, his bowling is getting better and his fielding is superb. Get your coat, Bell!"

    What? The top order scores some runs for the first time in recent memory, so you call for the sacking of the man who's bailed out England's innings time and time again.

  • Comment number 15.

    I support Geoffrey Boycott's suggestion for 4 day test cricket. There should be penalty runs if a team does not bowl 15 overs an hour. If there is bad light, the batting side should not be offered the light. They should have to stay on. The fast bowlers should be taken off because it would be dangerous for them to bowl in poor light. The fielding side should be made to bowl medium pacers and spin bowlers instead. That way the paying public would get to see more play and there is more chance of the game finishing in 4 days. It would also have the happy effect of making spinners more important, surely a good thing! (David McIlroy, slow left arm).

  • Comment number 16.

    "I pick NZ to score 300 today and bowl a panic stricken and fragile England out for 170 odd, winning it and silencing the desperate press."

    grattanmc, I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if you seriously believe that this is the most likely course of events then I strongly recommend that you sign up on any internet betting site and stick a boatload on New Zealand to win this test at the 259/1 currently available.

    Do you seriously expect there to be 430 runs and around 15 wickets in one day?

    England will probably bowl New Zealand out somewhere between 250-280, at some point after tea - if Vettori doesn't feel confident enough to declare, that is.

    "I support Geoffrey Boycott's suggestion for 4 day test cricket. There should be penalty runs if a team does not bowl 15 overs an hour. If there is bad light, the batting side should not be offered the light. They should have to stay on. The fast bowlers should be taken off because it would be dangerous for them to bowl in poor light. The fielding side should be made to bowl medium pacers and spin bowlers instead. That way the paying public would get to see more play and there is more chance of the game finishing in 4 days. It would also have the happy effect of making spinners more important, surely a good thing!" DHMcIlroy

    If we have not even completed a game in 5 days isn't it a tad absurd to suggest shortening the amount of time available to play? Having it as 5 days adds that extra twist which makes it unique from county cricket.

    Although, I do agree with Boycott's idea of penalising slow over rates with run deductions - but how likely is this when we remember that Pakistan were only deducted a paltry five runs for what was (at the time) deemed to be a very serious crime?

    What I do disagree with is your implication that only the batsmen are at danger when light fails. A Medium pacer can fly off the bat as hard as a paceman, and I sure as hell wouldn't like to be in the murky covers when Pieterson starts teeing off at a spinner. What's more the quality of the game dramatically reduces. England's great win in the subcontinent when they played on through the murk (hussain scoring the runs I think against Pakistan) became a farce, as fielders couldn't pick up the ball in the light, and the bowling side's best bowlers were not permitted to bowl. Is this really the best advert for test cricket? My solution, just flick the bleedin' lights on!! Why not? If we're scheduled to play till 7 then flick them on till 7!





  • Comment number 17.

    Just to say the coverage has been absolutely brillaint this test. Agnew, Tuffers. Coney and Blowers have been superb. Informative, interesting and fun when it was needed. The best radio on BBC!. Tuffers is a revelation, so please keep this team of these four going for the rest of the series and the odis.

    thanks
    Alison

  • Comment number 18.

    Totally agree, Alison - I like them all, including the ones missing this Test (Vic Marks, Simon Mann etc), but Tuffers has, indeed, been a revelation! I hope he's around for the rest of the series.

  • Comment number 19.

    With an extra 30 or so runs per session yesterday, England could have got to 400 and the kiwis would now be 4/4... food for thought for the English batsmen, I hope.

  • Comment number 20.

    thewelshboycott

    im sorry if i offend you but you are talking a pile of crap. Bell has got a great batting average, and has bailed england out on many occasions and you want to get rid of him?? you eejit!!

    to be honest, i think that if bell goes, it will take away the confidence he has and he will never get back in. He's an awesome player, and i want him to be in the england team for at least the next 5-7 years

    :D

  • Comment number 21.

    You asked how many balls Colin Cowdrey faced when he batted with a broken arm against the West Indies in 1963. Apologies if you already have the answer. According to the following extract from the Guardian obituary of the bowler 'Shack' the answer is two.

    quote 'He is particularly remembered for his involvement in the dramatic second innings. Fifteen runs were needed for an England win when he walked apprehensively to the crease. There was only Colin Cowdrey, with his broken arm, still to come. Shack was still defiantly there until the fourth ball of the final over when, with six runs still needed, he was run out. David Allen played defensively and heroically to draw the match.' end of quote

  • Comment number 22.

    Apropos of absolutely nothing................Blowers is SUCH a joy to listen to, I'll miss him at OT on Friday! I do hope he'll be back later in the NZ tour........his mis-naming of Sidebottom (calling him Stringfellow) all of today is typical Blowers, he's a National Treasure.

    Pam Nash

  • Comment number 23.

    Hmm. The technology also showed three lbw decisions incorrectly given in the negative against Panesar's bowling. Somewhat selective reporting I think...

 

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