My corner of the oval

… thoughts from a Kiwi cricket fan

What a privilege!

It’s the first time in a long time I have been able to stay awake ALL through the night to watch a day of test cricket being televised from the other side of the world; but I am SO glad this weekend was Queen’s Birthday celebration weekend in New Zealand and I was able to spend day three of the second test match between England and New Zealand in Leeds, England transfixed on my couch back in New Zealand, because it was a fantastic day of test cricket to be privileged to see live!

Starting the day, the New Zealand bowlers needed to dismiss five more English batsmen and, in true test match fashion, four of these five were dispatched reasonably quickly, and then the stubborn “tail-end” batsmen, mostly in the form of Stuart Board finally discovering his batting form again, proceeded to inch the England first innings total closer to the New Zealand first innings total until, believe it or not, both sides were tied on exactly the same score when the final wicket fell (Only the eighth time in test cricket history this has happened, too, by the way).

Anyway, the New Zealand opening batsmen Tom Latham and Martin Guptill negotiated a tricky fifteen minute period before the lunch break and then what happened after lunch was something I was so privileged to have seen live!

After the sad dismissals of Latham and Kane Williamson cheaply, Ross Taylor strode to the crease, purposefully it seemed, and proceeded to attack the England bowlers as you would in a One-Day fixture!  But he wasn’t reckless about it either and the running between the wickets between himself and Guptill was a definite highlight of the 99-run partnership.

When Taylor was dismissed, sadly before he reached a deserved half century (he scored 48), the stage was set for Brendon McCullum to enter the fray and smash the bowling attack some more.  Or so the English commentators seemingly hoped!

(Photo courtesy of www.cricinfo.com)

(Photo courtesy of http://www.cricinfo.com)

Instead, McCullum, first with Guptill and then majorly with BJ Watling (playing as a specialist batsman in this test match), steadfastly and skilfully piled on the runs, and the pressure, as the New Zealand total (and lead!) grew at a rapid rate of knots.  But again, this wasn’t achieved by smashing boundaries and the like; instead I was transported back to the Basin Reserve in Wellington to a similar partnership between the same two batsmen when a triple century was scored on that particular occasion, the batting was so similar and McCullum and Watling were definitely doing it again today in England.

Despite the fact the McCullum was dismissed (with an ounce of luck for the English bowlers as the umpire’s decision to give him out LBW was reviewed and only JUST given in the bowler’s favour!) for 55 runs … but not before raising his 6000th test run for New Zealand … this didn’t seem to deter Watling from continuing the batting clinic as he continued on his merry way with Luke Ronchi at the other end, in his debut test match, chiming in with a healthily scored 31 runs to edge New Zealand closer to a 300 run lead.

Sadly Ronchi was dismissed before Watling could reach his century, but Mark Craig is definitely an able batsman in his own right and together they “steadied the ship” to see BJ Watling score the first test century by a New Zealand batsman at the Headingley Cricket Ground in Leeds!  And his first test century against England, for his own statistics, too!

(Photo courtesy of www.cricinfo.com)

(Photo courtesy of http://www.cricinfo.com)

So New Zealand lead by 338 runs with six sessions of the test match left to play; who knows what those six sessions of test cricket will hold, but I for one am so pleased and proud to have witnessed today’s three sessions and hope our Black Caps can go all the way with this one and bring this test series to a deserving 1-1 draw result!

#backtheBlackCaps

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