On the face of it, with New Zealand 282-6 on a flat pitch, England had a pretty good day, but Alastair Cook won’t always catch so well and they won’t always be playing New Zealand.
The plan of the day was Plan D, because Vaughan had already been through A, B and C before settling on ‘building pressure’ or ‘being boring’. Discipline in line and length is paramount in Test cricket, but when Monty Panesar bringing about six forward defensives in an over is the best you’ve got to offer in the first session of a Test, you’re not a particularly dynamic side.
We thought Panesar bowled well from the off. It was first innings spin bowling – accurate and patient – rather than second innings aggression and it was carried out well. This meant one end was taken care of and Paul Collingwood played a similar role at the other end, before Ryan Sidebottom took on the task with greater success.
Prior to that Hoggard had swung the new ball a touch, but was disconcertingly down on pace and Ryan Sidebottom had shown great virtue without being exceptional – which is pretty much him as a bowler. You want him in your side, but you wouldn’t want three of him.
And that’s where Steve Harmison comes in. His first ball was 80mph and well wide of off stump. The slip cordon made a ridiculous amount of noise about it. Presumably Peter Moores had instructed them to build Harmison’s confidence, but when it’s as transparent as that, it’s counter-productive. We half thought this patronisation might elicit some rage from the big man, but alas not.
England were worthy but toothless and that’s not impressive. Honest toil is not the stuff of champions.
Apologies for how earnest today’s updates are. We’ve got it out of our system now. Don’t worry.
New Zealand v England, first Test at Hamilton – day one
New Zealand 282-6 (Jamie How, 92, Ross Taylor 54 not out, Brendon McCullum 51)