New Zealand have something atop their spine

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< 1 minute read

Looks like we’re gonna need a bigger skull. A year ago we wrote about how New Zealand’s first few vertebrae – the batsmen at three, four, five and six – needed to be (metaphorically) full of brainy gloop to make up for shortcomings at the top. After a 148-run opening stand in the first Test against England, there no longer seems much of an issue.

It maybe wasn’t the toughest examination for Martin Guptill and Tom Latham – the pitch was true and the ball didn’t swing much – but a large part of being an international batsman is simply the avoidance of knobheadish shots. Knobheadery in decision-making was conspicuously absent for almost the entire day. That makes life tough for the bowlers.

England’s bowling was largely ineffectual, but it didn’t seem too bad to our eyes. First impressions of Mark Wood are that we rather like him. We like his imaginary horse and his imaginary starting blocks as he begins his run-up. We’re less enamoured with his imaginary wickets. What is it with Durham bowlers and no-balls? Do they play on 21 yard pitches up there or summat?

We’re also fond of his very real pace. Somewhere in our head there’s a definition of a fast bowler. We suspect it’s something like ‘over 90mph for at least a third of the time’. Whatever it is, Wood must be pretty close. He’s quick enough to be distinct from the usual fast-medium barrage at least, which’ll do for us. And for all you cricket hipsters who say pace isn’t everything, we’ll once again repeat: not, it isn’t – but it is something.


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  1. Gutted for the lad Wood when that no-ball was called. But we were there the day Wood (almost, but for his errant front foot) took his first test wicket.

    Boy do England need a different ball. And a more relentless method for making the most of the few chances on offer.

  2. Maybe England need more then 3 proper bowlers? I think most teams have at least 4.

    1. More than three? Just finding three would be a good start. Conceptually, Wood, Woakes, Jordan and Stokes give us good depth but at some point one of them is going to have to start taking some actual wickets.

      And I remain unconvinced that Ali is any better a spinner than Joe Root is, despite his bowling average remaining stubbornly contradictory.

  3. These speed guns are nonsense. Everyone’s coming close to 90 mph. This guy’s getting close to mid-90s. Everyone’s a legitimate fast bowler now or what? Meanwhile the batsmen look completely untroubled by these thunderbolts they seem to be having to face. Maybe I’m nuts, but 90 mph used to get batsmen hopping in the old days. Must be all the modern coaching that’s changed things. Or maybe the speed gun readings are bullshit.

    1. A well-directed yorker at 90 mph with a little bit of late swing would still have them hopping about.

      Yesterday no swing and far too much buffet bowling – so much so that the Lord’s caterers nearly ran out of pies.

      More importantly, they tended to show the speed gun results only at the start of spells or on those rare occasions when the bowlers really cranked up the speed – e.g. Broad’s last couple where he wanted to show that he could bowl fast at the end of the day too. In-between, there was plenty of mid to low 80s stuff as per usual.

      Wood was the most consistent in the high 80s in my view but the ball wasn’t doing much for him either. The batsmen did look troubled by him at first and who knows what might have happened had he kept a minuscule bit of his foot behind the line on that one occasion in that early spell.

    2. I don’t disagree with you but I refuse to believe Anderson, Broad and Stokes can touch 90 mph (or near it) all that regularly. Broad, Stokes maybe once in a while, Anderson maybe long ago. Wood is not a 90+ mph bowler. And if he is, then Thomson/Akhtar/Lee/Tait were all 100+.

    3. Thomson almost certainly was. Akhtar supposedly was. Tait has also been clocked at that speed by a speed gun the calibration of which you might question. Lee was consistently mid-90s.

      Test fast-medium does tend to be mid-80s. This seems to be a fairly common, attainable speed, so why is it so outlandish to think that Broad and Stokes can’t go a notch quicker when they put their backs into it.

      Our point, really, is that whatever speeds they were all bowling, Wood was 3-5mph quicker, which is not insignificant. As Ged says, let’s see him when the ball’s doing something. Everything seems a lot quicker then because there’s greater demand on the batsman’s reaction times.

  4. I can’t watch this anymore. England are rubbish. I’m turning over to watch my team Wigan play Les Catalans instead.

    Aaarggghhh! My god, my god, why hast thou forsaken me!

    1. I thought it was a reasonable day, actually. Relatively evenly balanced. Arguably England’s, in fact.

      The problem was that yesterday was so drastically unbalanced that anything short of another such the other way would look terrible in comparison.

    2. At least we were busy today and I wasn’t able to see how Tigers got on against Bath.

    1. Always nice to see fraternal cricketing partnerships and it seems to happen relatively often in Kiwiland…

      …the Crowes, the McCullums…

      and now the bye brothers.

  5. i actually won a year’s free sky subscription at work recently – and because i have long since got out of the habit of watching tv, it took me until yesterday afternoon to realise that i can now watch the cricket (erm… tbh when it comes to the ashes, i may have to watch from between my fingers at this rate). bell looked in pretty good nick..? and maybe now he has safely got out of single figures, he will post another decent score… hmmm.

    it’s hard to esacpe the conclusion that the real story here is the kiwis’ developing an increasingly competitive side. england seem to be stumbling towards another crisis, but what will happen when they reach it? sack cook, fine, but who replaces him? everyone knows that joe root is not ready for the captaincy yet. and of course if they DID shoehorn KP back into the side, that would give the batting a more intimidating look for oppostion bowlers but he could hardly be made captain now, in this or any other universe… hmmm

    1. The Cook currently making a nice Kiwi-fruit trifle. Possibly with some ginger roots (by which I mean a ginger and a Root).

    2. Nice of New Zealand to lend us a player to even things up.

      Nicely done, Stokes.

    3. Stokes is clearly a batsman who can bowl a bit. So is Moeen. We need some proper bowlers.

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