There are two sides to this, being as we’re English, we’re first going to concentrate on the negative, because that’s our knee-jerk response when our side have made a comprehensive fightback and put themselves in total control of a Test match.
Andrew Strauss shouldn’t have been playing. He shouldn’t have been given the opportunity to hit a hundred. There’s a very real chance that all this innings has done is blind people to Strauss’s poor batting and given him a stay of execution. These runs were made on a flat pitch against a weakened version of what would ordinarily be one of the weaker Test bowling attacks, even when it’s fully-staffed.
This summer, Strauss is likely to find himself near the top of England’s order facing Dale Steyn, currently one of the best fast bowlers in the world. If he’s still fundamentally the same player, playing the same way as he has been doing for the last year or so, he’ll get found out and we’ll be in exactly the same situation that we were at the same time the previous summer and a year of Test experience will have been denied to his replacement.
On the other hand, here is a batsman who’d had a host of last chances and had found himself on the last of those last chances needing a hundred. And he got one.
Batting in a big match isn’t the same as batting in a minor match, even if you face the same bowling. For Strauss personally, this was unquestionably a big match. We can’t know for certain, but his entire Test and therefore cricketing career seemed to hang on this one innings. That would put us on edge.
At this point, the man comes out and hits a hundred. Then, when he’s hit his hundred and (understandably) jumped around like a bit of a loon, he puts his helmet back on and continues, working his way to 173 not out by the close of play.
We’re far from convinced about Strauss for the reasons in the first half of today’s update, but we’re pretty delighted to start filling in the ‘pros’ column with such solid stuff.
New Zealand v England, third Test at Napier – day three
England 253 (Kevin Pietersen 129, Tim Southee 5-55)
New Zealand 168 (Stephen Fleming 59, Ryan Sidebottom 7-47, Stuart Broad 3-54)
England 416-5 (Andrew Strauss 173 not out, Ian Bell 110, Daniel Vettori 3-135)