“Reasons to be cheerful, part one,” says Andrew Chappell. “I have really been enjoying imagining myself on those lovely sunny, grassy banks, in NZ. The grounds are idyllic.
Of course, I am stuck in the early winter doldrums here in Montreal at the moment, so in fact, cold November rain in London would look almost as appealing.”
I do wonder if the banks are a faux ami – sitting on grass all day doesn’t sound great. But yes, I could cope.
“Evening Daniel, evening everyone,” emails Harkarn Sumal. “I watched the first 90 minutes last night before toddling off to bed. It seemed that New Zealand’s seamers were just hammering away on a middle and leg line to Joe Root, well back of a length, and that on this featherbed of a wicket, this approach was simply feeding paddles and pulls. I know Wagner loves banging it in all day long, but what exactly were they trying to achieve there? It’s not as if they were packing the field on that side to dry us up with leg theory. It made for very odd viewing. I went off up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire with a furrowed brow. Any light to shed?”
I guess they were trying to make him antsy by drying up the runs, but it didn’t work. I agree it’s kind of odd though – tempting him to drive and flash seems a better strategy.
A friend of ours and student of this thing of ours, Rob Smyth, suggests that England’s 2000-01 visit to Pakistan was the last time they played a series this dry. I guess that’s been mainly forgotten in the joy of the climax.
Reminder: we’ll be starting half an hour earlier this morning, to help compensate for time we’ve lost.
We’re all friends here and friends need to be honest with each other, so let’s be honest about this: it’s a long, long time since England played a series as dull as this series has been. And no, this isn’t something I think because England are poised to lose it – like all normal people, I take enormous pleasure in watching the team I support suffer – but is something I think because the pitches have been as dull as these pitches have been.
Of course you want conditions to be different around the world, of course you don’t want every pitch to be green; of course you enjoy slow periods, of course you don’t want matches done in fewer than four days. But you should want every track, however flat, to offer something to the bowlers – whether pace, bounce or turn – and you should want every track, however flat, to have some character.
But here we are now, perhaps on the cusp of liveliness. England need to make runs as quickly as possible in order to force a win, while New Zealand will want quick wickets to set up a slog then a skittling. Fingers crossed, pals.
Play: 10.30am local, 9.30pm GMT