Fortunate to be given the opportunity to do so, Andrew Strauss saved his Test career with a whopping 177 in the third and final Test of the tour of New Zealand. Since then, he’s hit 63, 60 and now 106 and suddenly there doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. Such is cricket.
This was an almighty fightback by England – one we didn’t think they were capable of. They’ve been a slightly inspid outfit of late, inclined towards mediocrity, but for the last four sessions of this Test, they were sublime. That shouldn’t obscure the unpalatable truths that were apparent on Sunday morning though.
England’s middle order seems to be providing ever-dwindling returns. It seems like someone’s going to go before too long. Paul Collingwood, while currently the one-day captain, has some surgery in the offing and would appear to be bottom of the pile.
England’s seamers lack a bit of pace. It’s the fashion to say that bowling’s all about experience and guile now – largely thanks to Ryan Sidebottom – but just as the previous obsession with pace was misguided, so this is. Pace is still an attribute – one that should be allied to accuracy and intelligence.
We’d also like to have a minor pop at the sacred cow that is Stuart Broad. We’ve written before about how we want Stuart Broad in the England team for years to come, but his batting competence and bowling promise seems to be obscuring the simple fact that at present he’s not taking too many wickets – 12 at 47 in five Tests, to be precise.
We’re not saying drop him by any means. We’re saying: ‘Get some wickets, Stuart’. With only four bowlers, that’s mandatory. He’s not the third best English seam bowler and he needs to get closer to being that.
England v New Zealand, second Test at Old Trafford – day four
New Zealand 381 all out (Ross Taylor 154 not out, Jamie How 64, Kyle Mills 57, James Anderson 4-118)
England 202 (Andrew Strauss 60, Daniel Vettori 5-66, Iain O’Brien 3-49
New Zealand 114 all out (Monty Panesar 6-37)
England 293-4 (Andrew Strauss 106)