The Sporting Scoop - Wickets Come Tumbling Down
by Ian Little, an unabashed one-eyed supporter of British sports,who writes from England.
It was a bizarre day on the second day of the second test between New Zealand and England with 21 wickets coming at a fast and furious pace.
As cricket administrators fretted over how to attract spectators to see two lacklustre teams play out after a test match after the thrills of the one day game, the players responded by playing a one day game plus more in less than a day.
England's widely lauded bowling attack on the first day was put into perspective as was Stephen Fleming's decision to bat first as seven English wickets fell in the morning, followed by three more in a weather hit afternoon and then ten New Zealand wickets in an extended and sunny evening session.
The muggy conditions gave the bowlers every assistance, that combined with a two paced wicket and some appalling shots meant it was day built in heaven for swing bowlers. So much was it a day for the bowler that Simon Doull also was the highest scoring batsman of the day with a swashbuckling 45 that together with a hard grafted 25 by Fleming gave, NZ a slight upper hand.
England's best players as well, was naturally a bowler. Andy Caddick resurrected the English with a knock of 33 and an eighth-wicket partnership of 70 that came together with England at 45 for 7.
This allowed England to reach 126, a deficit of 100. New Zealand must have thought, dig in, we have the game won… but no.
Out came Caddick and first ball Roger Twose was gone with a pair for the test on his old homeground. Caddick later returned to take four wickets for one run and NZ were 52 for eight, while a bemused Fleming watched Simon Doull walk out and smash the bowling attack his batting betters had failed to tame.
Earlier there had been a delightful decision from the umpire that saw Mat Horne given caught out behind, when it appeared he missed a swinging ball. Seemingly the officials were determined to make it the bowlers day.
After Fleming's grit and Doull's flashing bat, the innings eventually closed at 107. England had three overs to face and promptly lost the miserable Alec Stewart, who looks certain to lose his test place hard on the heels of the captaincy.
England ended the day on three. With three days to play, England require 204, New Zealand need nine wickets. If the third day follows the same pattern, NZ should win.
But it has been a bizarre test and just to make it a bit
more normal, three days of rain might just be in