The myths of parity

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Shit at cricket

Parity on first innings isn’t really parity because one team has to bat last. When England matched New Zealand’s 350, they were behind.

Not that this was where the match was decided, but it’s worth noting when so much attention is on fourth innings shot selection.

Several days ago…

Two things happened to produce that unquantifiable first innings deficit. First of all, the second half of New Zealand’s innings produced way more runs than the first half. This seems to happen to England a lot, particularly once a few shots find their way to the boundary. The Kiwis’ second innings was more of the same but with an added dash of disaffection on the part of England’s bowlers.

In a way, New Zealand are just the sort of team England hate bowling at because it sometimes feels like the entire team have watched a Shahid Afridi knock and said: “Yes. Let’s do that. Let’s all of us, from one to eleven, do precisely that.”

It would also help if someone – anyone – could catch.

The second reason why England didn’t do better on first innings was because they collapsed. There is no mystery about this. New Zealand simply bowled excellently in decent conditions with the second new ball. They took two wickets in 80 overs with their first ball and then in just 14 overs with the second, they took a further six.

At the same time…

This is again something that happens to England a lot. They’ve collapsed in five of their last six innings. They aren’t tail-end collapses either. They’re good, solid top and middle order floppery.

There’s always a lust for head-rolling in these situations. Gary Ballance and Ian Bell seem to be the men currently out of favour. Ballance’s poor form hasn’t yet been so severe as to bring his Test average below fifty, while Ian Bell hasn’t made a Test hundred for all of six weeks. Maybe we should give it a bit before committing to decapitation.

Moeen Ali’s getting stick as well. Without having bowled much recently, he’s looking very much like a man who’s short of bowling.

In summary

So that’s that. Just as New Zealand had a first innings lead when both sides scored 350, they also take the series 1-1. On behalf of all in England, can we just say how disappointed we are that the two teams won’t face each other again until another risible two-Test series in 2018.

Before the series, New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said he hoped that the way his team performed might persuade people to give them more matches in the future. Sadly, everyone will have forgotten how spectacularly entertaining they were by the time they get round to sorting out the next tour. Comfort yourselves with the fact that you’ve really, really earned that status quo, New Zealand.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. I’m 35. Growing up England always had a middle order collapse at some point. It’s good to be taken back to my youth with the current team. Now where do I get sherbert dip dabs from nowadays?

  2. Parity is also only useful for detecting the odd error, and England make many more than that. It also doesn’t help to correct any.

    But who cares about England? Leics might win a game tomorrow.

    1. Congratulations! I suspect a new amendment to Lewis Hill’s wikipedia page is imminent – this knock will surely cement his folk hero status at Grace Road.

  3. What a cracker of a series, can’t wait for the third.. oh never mind. Bring on the meaningless one dayers.

    1. I’m so glad they scheduled five ODIs instead of a third test match. It’s so clearly the best idea possible.

  4. One thing I’ve learnt… Joe Root needs to be kept away from press conferences until he gets a sense of realism.

  5. Have I ever mentioned before that a “two test series” is not a series in my view?

    Don’t get me started.

    From an expectations point of view, it’s hard to see how England can fail for the rest of the summer.

    Still, in a summer when Leicestershire might even win a county championship match (albeit Division Three), who knows what might happen?

  6. This article might contain the clue to WINNING ALL TEST MATCHES EVER. The operation of parity gives you the mirror image. But modern physics tells you that you have to simultaneously also convert the particle into its antiparticle, and reverse time for the entire operation to make sense – the so-called CPT symmetry. So England simply have to find and field the right-handed anti-Cooks and anti-Ballances and play the game in 666 AD.

    Frankly, it couldn’t be simpler.

    1. Shane Warne is right handed and definitely anti-Cook, so you should field him for starters.

    1. He does have to say that, so let’s get that out of the way.

      At the moment we’ve got on average four decent batsmen – if two of the other three-and-a-half come to the party (and Ballance was troubled by swing mostly – NZ are swingier than Australia), that’s a good-looking batting line-up. As for the bowling, Broad’s recovered a bit, Anderson flicks between magical and mediocre while you blink, and hopefully the pitches won’t spin too much.

      And of course, the coin tosses. If England win every toss (which has a not-quite-negligible 1/32 chance of happening), they should close out the series 2-1, I reckon. Especially if they remember how to catch, and if their twelfth man times things correctly, like it did in 2013.

      The reality is that England are most likely screwed by a big spiky one. But they could win, so Cooky’s right. All hail the Chef.

    2. It has to be said – those jumpers are stupid. Australiasia’s cable knit superiority is unassailable.

  7. Blaming batsmen for not batting four-and-a-bit sessions on Days 4 and 5 is missing the point – this Test was lost by the bowling performance in New Zealand’s 2nd Innings, and by the 1st Innings collapse from 200-odd for 1 to 200-odd for 8.

    As to what could be done differently, that’s much harder. Even if the return of KP was possible, it wouldn’t transform the current team into surefire Ashes winners. Swapping round the fast-medium bowlers is unlikely to achieve much.

    Cloning Anderson and injecting Graeme Swann with rejuvenating monkey glands? Now that could work…

    1. In the words of Meg Ryan in that film: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

      England have got a real problem with how to bowl at tail-enders. I’ve lost count of the number of times the last two wickets have flayed them round the park in recent years. Agar, Matthews and Southee/Craig are three just off the top of my head.

      One of the commentators, can’t remember who, said it was an ego problem. They bowl short because they can’t take the shame of a full delivery being hit back over their heads by a ‘non-batsman’.

    2. Bowling short to tail-enders is rarely a problem. There’s a certain level where England bowlers are condemned for doing that for all kinds of batsmen, as if short-pitched bowling is thus inherently easy to face. At a certain point they do seem to have become a bit annoyed about the tail-ender issue, though (apart from it happening every series more or less now). Like, there’s du Plessis and such batting out an innings, the occasional similar lower-order innings, and then there’s some lower-order batsman doing nothing against short-pitched bowling or otherwise and staying in. Mightn’t that hurt? There does seem to be a problem here, at the same time England hadn’t lost the test by the fifth day, one would hope.

      Tell you what, though, the problem often manifests in straightforward shots through the off-side, so perhaps there’s a solution to that, such as ignoring it. This could have revived English cricket.

      The Ashes don’t seem that important, though, this Australia team is playing better now.

  8. May I be the first to congratulate daneel on that impressive Leicestershire win over the might of Essex.

    Enjoy the good times while they last, daneel.

    1. I’ll chime in with my congratulations. Enjoy, Daneel. Your Lancs. cast-off did you proud.

    2. Gus Robson for England! (or Australia, or Notts, or Warks, or Lancs, or Middlesex)

    3. Were I Bert (or someone of Bert’s kind), Mike, I would probably seek to find a convoluted method for declaring temporal victory, despite electronic evidence to the contrary.

      But I am a believer in playing the game in an appropriate manner – the spirit of King Cricket appealing and all that.

      So may I now be the first to congratulate you, Mike, on being the first – by an extremely narrow, dare I say fortunate, margin – to congratulate daneel.

    4. And may we be first – or among the first – to congratulate you on your peerless commentsmanship, Ged. Well done on congratulating Mike on being first to congratulate Daneel for Leicestershire’s momentous win.

      [Awaits congratulations for being first (or among the first) to congratulate Ged.]

    5. I thought this site didn’t comment on the second (third?) division?

      You can’t get enough of it.

    6. I am not from the right sort of family daneel. But thank you for the kind thought.

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