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There is no doubt about it. England took New Zealand too lightly. But there is a reason for that. New Zealand are not very good at test match cricket, winning just 19% over their history. In one-day cricket they are perfectly fine, making six of the ten semi-finals in the World Cup since its conception. But there lies the problem. They are good multi - skilled players and so in demand for the IPL, where they prefer to be and where the money is. New Zealand country cricket doesn't pay much.
As with all England tours there wasn't enough warm up time in the middle for England to hit the ground running in the First Test, playing just one four day game previous and that in Queenstown where it was fun fun for ten days. Swann dodged the action at the last to have an operation in Americas to prepare for the Ashes summer.
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1st Test (March 6th-10th)
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Day one was washed out and England soon 18-3 at a chilly Dunedin on a greenish top on day two because of that moisture as Bell faced the hatrick ball, ducks for South Africans Compton and Pietersen. Saffer number three, Jonathan Trott, got them to a hundred with five down but once out for 45 it was all-out for 167, Wagner 4-42 and Martin 4-43, hardly a scary seam attack to produce England's lowest ever first test first innings against NZ. It's the fourth time in a row that England have been bowled out for less than 200 in their first innings of an overseas series.
The Black Caps had no trouble capitalizing on that excellent start as Peter Fulton (55) joined Hamish Rutherford and piled up a 150 partnership for the opening wicket, Rutherford the second highest New Zealander scorer on debut at this point, Matt Sinclair's 214 against the 'Windies' the record. When Rutherford made his 150 he was only the twentieth player to do that in test history. When he was out for 171 he was the eighth highest test debutant ever, certainly the highest against England. Tip Foster of Australia holds the record on 287.
===Highest on Debut===
287: Tip Foster (Eng) v Aus, Sydney, 1903
222*: Jacques Rudolph (SA) v Bang, Chittagong, 2003
214: Lawrence Rowe (WI) v NZ, Kingston, 1972
214: Mathew Sinclair (NZ) v WI, Wellington, 1999
201: Brendon Kuruppu (SL) v NZ, Colombo, 1987
176: George Headley (WI) v Eng, Bridgetown, 1930
171: Hamish Rutherford (NZ) v Eng, Dunedin, 2013
The slaughter continued after tea as they flayed another 150 runs before bad light let England off the hook with just two days to go, the dangerous Brian McCullum still at the crease to get that 300 lead, England's first four bowlers set to go for one hundred each.
McCullum (74) clubbed it around as NZ declared on increasingly flat pitch at 460-9, Martin 41*.
For England it was bat long and exploit the fact the NZ attack was poor and so it proved, 234-1 at the close of day four, centuries for Cook (116) and Compton(121*), their 200 partnership beating Graeme Fowler and Chris Tavares's 223 record-run opening partnership against New Zealand at the Oval in 1983. England were never going to bat poorly second time around and it was six centuries in seven test for Cook as captain and only the third Englishman to score test hundreds against all the test playing nations, behind Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell. Compton's maiden hundred backed the selectors who were tempted to drop him for Root. Cook now has the record outright as highest test scorer for England with 25.
===The Top 10 and level Test century makers ===
(51) Sachin Tendulkar
(44) Jacques Kallis
(41) Ricky Ponting
(36) Rahul Dravid
(34) Sunil Gavaskar
(34) Brian Lara
(32) Steve Waugh
(31) Mahela Jayawardene
(30) Matthew Hayden
(30) Kumar Sangakkara
(29) Don Bradman
It was a simple case of batting the final day out for the draw and easily achieved, night-watchman Steven Finn the surprise anchor with 55 in four hours, putting on 90 with Trott (52) to stop any early nerves. Having gone into the game with just 51 runs to his name from 17 Tests, Finny scored 76 in this match alone, ending up with his first ever first-class half-century, 56 runs off 200 balls, the second longest ever night-watchmen knock for England. Hands were shaken on 421-6 declared for the draw and onto Wellington. Only once in England's last13 tours have England won the opening test, and that was Bangladesh.
England 1st Innings167 all out (55.0 over's)
New Zealand 1st Innings460 for 9 declared (116.4 overs)
England 2nd Innings421 for 6 (170.0 over's)
This made me chuckle.....
At the same time in India, Australia became the first team ever to lose a test by an innings by declaring first. At 208-4 on the first day all looked well but the pitch started to seam and swing under cloud and Australia tumbled to 237-9 with half hour to go. Clarke bravely declared to exploit the conditions and India did indeed collapse, losing 9 wickets for 116 runs, but had already piled up 387-1 at that point, new sensation Puruja hitting yet another double hundred. Alongside Vijay with 167 they finished on 503 all out. Australia were then skittled for 131 and that was that. Team Australia responded to the hiding by banning four top players from the next text for not giving a PowerPoint presentation on what to do now. Bizarre.
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2nd Test 13th -17th March
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New Zealand won the toss and inserted England on a perfect batting pitch, an odd decision by McCullum. With rain likely to take out big chumps of the match the thinking was even more confusing. England didn't look the gift horse in the mouth and piled up 267-2 by the close of day one, centuries for Compton (100) and Trott (121) in a 210 partnership. There was even time for Cook (17) to become the seventh highest test run scorer for England. Only a lightning bolt is going to stop this guy getting 10,000 test runs.
-------Record run scorers for England------
8,900 runs: Graham Gooch (118 matches)
8,463: Alec Stewart (133)
8,231: David Gower (117)
8,114: Geoffrey Boycott (108)
7,728: Michael Atherton (115)
7,624: Colin Cowdrey (114)
7,426: Kevin Pietersen (94)
7,260: Alastair Cook (89)
7,249: Walter Hammond (85)
Pietersen (73) moved things forward with some elegant boundaries whilst Prior (82) guided the tail to the 450 with some even bigger hits, putting on 81 with that man Finn, the chipped out 500 sacrificed for a brisker 465 all out to earn time in the game as rain rolled in and England's highest ever test score in Wellington ticked up. Chris Broad nipped two out to close NZ on 66-3.
Day three and it was quite possible England could win the test by taking 17 wickets in that day, New Zealand that poor. At 89-5 it looked on but half-centuries from Watling (60) and McCullum (69) took them over the 200 then Chris Broad fighting back with 6-51, his best for a while as his pace continues to wane. 254-all out gave him the chance to get some more before the close, NZ 77-1 and holding out with the follow - on enforced.
That rain did arrive and only 35 over possible on day four, NZ closing on 161-2, Fulton out for 45. The final day offered less hope and the draw stamped in the scorebook.
England 1st Innings465 all out (146.5 overs)
New Zealand 1st Innings254 all out (89.2 overs)
New Zealand 2nd Innings162 for 2 (68.0 overs) - Following on
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3rd Test - March 20th-24th
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No Kevin Pietersen, who pulled out claiming an ongoing injury, expected to be out for 6 weeks or more. I suspect he will be fit and ready for next months IPL, The cynic I am. Alistair Cook made an arrogant howler by putting NZ in on a flat pitch on one of test cricket's smallest grounds, the home team laughing all the way to the bank with 250-1 at the close. A debut hundred by Peter Fulton was the quirky fact of the day, getting that hundred (134) at the grand old age of 34 during his truncated 10 year test career over seven years. Nicknamed 'two meter' Peter because of his height he was only the second NZ test bat to achieve this unglamorous feat, Zin Harris back in 1962 the other. With a test average of just 22 for 2MPeter this was poor bowling by England.
England did what they had to do to stay in the series on day two by bowling out New Zealand by tea, taking 9-193 in the day. Finn did the damage with career best bowling 6-125 with Williamson 91 and an entertaining cameo of 44 by Tim Southee off just 22 balls brining them how to 443 all out. The plan was for Finn to do the damage with his height but NZ spoiling the party, their test and series to lose now. James Andersen moved into the top four all-time test bowlers with his 2-79. England closed on 50-2 and rocking, big innings boys Cook and Trott out.
===England's top Test wicket-takers===
Ian Botham - wickets: 383, average 28.40
Bob Willis - wickets: 325, average 25.20
Fred Trueman - wickets: 307, average 21.57
James Anderson - wickets: 297, average 30.52
Derek Underwood - wickets: 297, average 25.83
England battled to make the follow-on but slumped to 72-5 before Prior and Root got them back into the game with a one hundred partnership before Prior fell for 73. Root managed to needle just 31 with the tail and that was that, England facing the follow on at 204 all-out, a career best 6-68 for Boult. I had honestly only heard of just one of New Zealanders seamers before this series, that of Southee.
The decision not to put England back in was very odd. Hansje Cronje odd. Yes their bowlers were tired but the last hour at the England first three with the pressure they were under was the correct call, proof enough it was the wrong call when New Zealand slumped to 8-3 against the same new ball and closing on 34-3.
Oh how we laughed...
Back down in India and Australia suffered their second only white wash in their test match history, going down 4-0, and their biggest thumping for 43 years. They not only lost all four tests but were thumped in all of them. Expect wholesale changes to the coaching and captaincy before next summer's not so anticipated Ashes series anymore.
Day four and NZ attacked, 'Two Meter Peter' hitting a second century (110), putting on a brisk hundred partnership with Brownlee, only the fourth New Zealander to do the double in the countries test history, doubling his career test average in the process. McCullum set up the declaration with a big hitting 67 to take them to 241-6, setting England an impossible 481 to win in four sessions, a record 16 sixes in the match for New Zealand, most of them off Monty. England closed on 90-4; Cook (43), Trott (37) already out along with Compton for 2.
The final day was daunting for England and perfunctory for NZ. England couldn't get near the total so had to bat three sessions with six wickets. NZ piled fielders around the bat. Root lasted an hour with Bell and only one down at lunch as Root (29) took root. With Bairstow gone at 159-6 it looked like it would be done by tea but Prior and Bell gave England a chance with a grueling 78 partnership in two hours until Bell fell the last ball before tea for 75 at 237-7. So enter hopelessly out of form Stuart Broad with the bat, breaking a test record by not scoring until his 62nd ball he faced, his first run coming after 103 minutes. But, critically, he and Prior had put on 64 when Broad was out for his 6 off 133 balls to bring up the 300 with just half an hour to go, Prior squeezing his nerves even more to secure his brave hundred. But with four agonizing over's left Anderson was out first ball and England as precarious as you can get on 304-9. So enter Monty, and like Cardiff in that exciting Ashes series of 2010, blocking out with Prior (110*) to secure a memorable draw, the delirious Barmy Army claiming it as a win. England had got away with a humiliating test series defeat here, 1984 and the days of the brilliant Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe the last time that occurred. It was only the third time in test history a team with 4 down at the start of day five had batted out the draw.
New Zealand 1st Innings443 all out (152.3 overs)
England 1st Innings204 all out (89.2 overs)
New Zealand 2nd Innings241 for 6 declared (57.2 overs)
England 2nd Innings315 for 9 (143.0 overs)
Series finish 0-0.