59th over: England 169-5 (Lawrence 20, Bracey 0) “Hey Rob,” says John Foster. “Yay, Rushmore! A lot of it was filmed at my high school while I was there (I’m actually in the film, it’s one of those blink-and-you-miss-it jobs, but it made for a handy chat-up line back in the day). I’m sure there quite are a few alumni of Kincaid High School, Houston, Texas who follow the OBO – could you please publish this so that they come forward, connect, and we can reminisce about late 90s music and our undefeated baseball team, while debating the omission of Jack Leach?”
You’re in Rushmore? You’re in Rushmore? You’re in Rushmore? You’re in Rushmore? I was beside myself when Jeremy Theobald, the lead in Chris Nolan’s first film, appeared on the OBO. But Rushmore! If you told me you were the bloke who played Buchan, I would have been at genuine risk of dying happy. But come on, what scene are you in? I know what I’ll be doing tonight.
WICKET! England 169-5 (Burns c Latham b Boult 81)
A huge wicket for New Zealand! Burns plays a loose stroke, chasing a wide one from Boult, and Latham takes a terrific low catch at second slip. Burns played brilliantly but he looks full of internal out-rage as he walks slowly off the field. He knows he should have made another century.
58th over: England 167-4 (Burns 79, Lawrence 20) Matt Henry also returns to the attack, an admirably aggressive move from Tom Latham. Lawrence, trying to leave outside off stump, inadvertently steers the ball to third man for four. Henry grins at Lawrence and then addresses him with the kind of language that doesn’t usually emerge from a smiling face. He’s even less impressed when Lawrence thick edges another boundary later in the over.
57th over: England 159-4 (Burns 79, Lawrence 12) Trent Boult is back after tea. Did he ever really go away? He starts with an inswinging yorker to Lawrence, who forces it whence it came for a single. Burns squirts two behind square and then times a push-drive through mid-on for four. He is playing seriously well right now. I don’t want to curse him so I’m not going to tell you that the last England opener to make made hundreds in consecutive Tests was Sir Alastair Cook in 2015.
This is extremely good, even if it did leave me struggling to escape the thought of Tony Lewis as a member of Steps.
56th over: England 152-4 (Burns 73, Lawrence 11) Lawrence looks more comfortable now, certainly against Patel, and if New Zealand are smart they’ll hit him with seam from both ends after tea. Burns moves into the seventies off the final ball of the afternoon session, working Patel round the corner. He has played immaculately, but that was emphatically New Zealand’s session: 27 overs, 85 runs, four wickets.
“I can never resist a Rushmore reference (over 48),” says Brian Withington. “Rather than link to the opening scene where Max fantasises about his mathematical abilities, I give you the Year Book Montage with its ever more fantastic list of activities, including Director of the fabled Max Fischer Players, as well as founder of the Trap & Skeet Club, all accompanied by The Creation’s excellent Making Time. Priceless.”
Best film ever man.
55th over: England 145-4 (Burns 69, Lawrence 8) Burns steers an outswinger from Wagner wide of gully for four. He is 31 away from his second century in a week, and he’ll be full of internal out-rage if he doesn’t manage it. The ball is old, the pitch is flat and he is in complete control. But so was such-and-such that time at where’s-its-name, and we all know what happened next.
“More than most games, Test cricket is full of contradictions – note how often the right thing to do is to increase your opponent’s chance of winning,” says Gary Naylor. “But, if anyone wants to understand the phrase, ‘Good toss to lose’, show them these two sessions of cricket. Joe Root could not do anything but bat, yet New Zealand have enjoyed very favourable conditions. They’ve bowled well of course, but good Test teams do. Funny old game eh?”
54th over: England 141-4 (Burns 65, Lawrence 8) “Rob,” says John Starbuck. “On Pope’s dismissal, it occurred to me that we have a true condition here: out-rage.”
Ha, that’s very good. I guess we should identify two types of out-rage, external (see Botham, Beefy) and internal (Ollie Pope today).
53rd over: England 139-4 (Burns 64, Lawrence 7) With the hinges of the England innings starting to creak, Tom Latham brings Neil Wagner back into the attack. Burns defends the first five balls and then laces a square drive for four. He’s batting beautifully.
“Absolutely bewildered by England today,” says Phil Harrison. “A strange selection for a start – Wood and Stone are basically the same bowler – but to leave out your spinner, win the toss on a cloudy, muggy day with very hot weather forecast for later in the match and bat first? Don’t get it. Anderson would have made hay today.”
52nd over: England 135-4 (Burns 60, Lawrence 7) Patel beats Lawrence, who looks extremely nervous, with consecutive deliveries. Lawrence is usually a terrific player of spin, and he reminds everyone of that with a majestic back-foot drive for four.
Incidentally, Ollie Pope’s Test average has now dropped to an unbecoming 31.81. He hasn’t made a half-century since an extraordinarily good 62 in the first Test against Pakistan a year ago.
51st over: England 129-4 (Burns 60, Lawrence 1) Lawrence pats Boult a little nervously into the leg side to get off the mark – not only in this innings, but also in the series.
“Hi Rob,” says Chris Drew. “If England are making a Horlicks of this now, having put everyone to sleep earlier, then we really have got things the wrong way round!”
LAWRENCE IS NOT OUT! Yes, replays show it hit the pad outside the line, and would have missed off stump as well. So, nowhere near as close as I thought. But Boult will be very encouraged by the tangle Lawrence in as he tried to defend that inswinger.
It was a gorgeous inswinger from Boult that hit both pads, with Lawrence’s bat a mile away. He might survive on line.
NEW ZEALAND REVIEW FOR LBW! Dan Lawrence survives a huge shout for LBW from Boult – but Tom Latham reviews almost immediately. This looks really close.
50th over: England 127-4 (Burns 59, Lawrence 0) England are making quite the Horlicks of this.
WICKET! England 127-4 (Pope c Blundell b Patel 19)
Ollie Pope has thrown it away. He had already slashed Ajaz Patel for one boundary in the over when he received an inviting short ball outside off stump. Pope threw everything into a cut stroke but he was slightly off balance and top-edged it into the gloves of Blundell. It was a poor delivery, begging to be belted for four, and Pope was fuming with himself as he walked off. In fact I’ve never seen him that angry.
49th over: England 123-3 (Burns 59, Pope 15) Boult, round the wicket now, almost gets through Pope with a hooping inswinger that takes the inside edge and flies to fine leg for a single. That was a lovely delivery.
48th over: England 121-3 (Burns 58, Pope 14) A harmless over from Mitchell. The good thing for New Zealand is they have controlled the scoring rate, so there’s no danger at this stage of England getting away from them.
“Talking of cricketers whose only Test ton is a double – how about Karun Nair?” says Ian Forth. “To date, his only Test ton is a triple. Andy Sandham, England’s first triple centurion, only scored one other Test ton.”
The list of Karun Nair’s Test scores is a gem: 4, 13, 303*, 26, 0, 23, 5. Not even Max Fischer could solve that puzzle.
47th over: England 120-3 (Burns 57, Pope 14) Burns pulls Boult over midwicket for four, a shot of impressive authority. Batting looks reasonably comfortable just now, even though there is still a bit of swing.
46th over: England 115-3 (Burns 52, Pope 14) A quiet over from Mitchell. In his burgeoning career, Burns averages 79 against New Zealand (from four Tests) and 28 against everyone else (from 21 games). I don’t know what the moral of this story is. I don’t even know whether it has a moral.
“Welcome to the game,” says Andrew Cosgrove. “This is referring back to one of Geoff’s comment, sorry. How have I never heard of Faoud Bacchus? That’s a most magnificent name. I wonder if he cracked a few bottles of wine to celebrate his double ton.”
Next you’ll be telling me you haven’t heard of Elquemedo Willett.
45th over: England 113-3 (Burns 52, Pope 12) Boult gets nice some inswing to Pope, and then pushes him back with a decent bouncer. Pope snaps his head out of the way and then scrunches a single later in the over.
44th over: England 112-3 (Burns 52, Pope 11) Burns works Mitchell for two to reach another accomplished half-century, this one from 141 balls. The difference a week makes: Burns has batted almost 13 hours in that time, and re-established himself as one of the surer things in England’s batting line-up.
Thanks Geoff, hello everyone. Let’s start with a bit of news about Ollie Robinson, who has decided to take a break from cricket.
And as the drinks break has come, it’s handover time on the OBO. Thanks everyone for your correspondence, including the messages I didn’t get time to post. I’ll check out, and leave you in the loving arms of Rob Smyth.
43rd over: England 108-3 (Burns 49, Pope 10) Boult bowls another six dot balls ahead of the drinks break. Well, well. Burns will have to wait a little longer for a chance at his minor milestone.
Brad Elliott has some memory-joggers for players whose only ton was a double. “Brendon Kuruppu hit his double ton on debut to boot. Plus Conway and Mayers from this year (who of course both have the chance to add to their tallies, unlike Brendon).”
Jason Gillespie is another memorable one, and Brad Hodge. Tip Foster back in 1903 is one we never forget. And Faoud Bacchus for the West Indies in the 70s.
Ok, I checked my notes, because I knew there were a couple more. Denis Atkinson, in that crazy seventh-wicket stand for the Windies against Australia in the 1950s, and Taslim Arif, the Pakistani wicketkeeper, also against Australia.
42nd over: England 108-3 (Burns 49, Pope 10) Daryl Mitchell is back. Really sounds like an Australian soapie character to me. Alf Stewart and Daryl Mitchell dropping by to see Dr Karl Kennedy. He bowls a maiden! Burns on 49 can’t steer through the cordon, and can’t catch up with a couple of balls down the leg side.
41st over: England 108-3 (Burns 49, Pope 10) Lovely from Pope, leaning into it and plays an even better on-drive than what he played before. This one goes more through straight midwicket, squarer than the last. Wagner curling it into his pads, near the ankle, and Pope leans forward to caress. It gets pulled up inside the rope, but it’s such a long chase plus the dive and the tumble and the recoup, that the batting pair runs four regardless. That shot comes one ball after Pope tucked away two runs. He’s in double figures already, and it may well help Burns to have someone getting on with things at the other end.
40th over: England 102-3 (Burns 45, Pope 4) Zing! from Burns. Beautiful shot through the covers. The left-hander gets width from Henry and steps into it, dipping his knees, flashing the bat through it to the cover boundary. He’s looked better and better, has Burns. Raises the team ton.
39th over: England 98-3 (Burns 45, Pope 4) Just a single from Wagner’s over, to Burns, closing on his half century.
Em Jackson has their own solution to our dawdling problem. “To speed up the bowling side, at the end of each day, the number of overs lost should be calculated, then the bowling side either the next morning or in the second Innings should be made to bowl non-bowlers per overs lost. Lose 8 overs and the batting side get 8 balls, all free-hits and they can pick batters to hit them. If that’s the side fielding second then at the end of the day (when play officially closes), then, yep, batters come out, non-bowlers bowl. Add 8 fours or sixes onto a score, see how that goes down, eh?”
I like it. Daring, inventive, entertaining.
One thing to note, that said, is that batting sides contribute to the problem. Rory Burns making someone within 15 metres of the sight screen move. Steve Smith calling for new gloves after eight balls. Six fluoro vests running out drinks every two overs. So punishment is hard to apportion. I’m increasingly leaning towards a shot-clock sort of situation per delivery, because then both sides have to be in position to play before it runs out.
38th over: England 97-3 (Burns 44, Pope 4) Very nice from Young Pope, he essays the on-drive against Henry, on the up almost, and gets it squarely. Down through mid-on for three runs. Burns has an easier offering with a low full toss that he can drive square for three more. Back and forth they go.
37th over: England 91-3 (Burns 41, Pope 1) Wagner in and full and swinging it, left-arm over to Ollie Pope and aiming to swing it in. A full-throated appeal as he hits the pad, but that ball was swinging down the leg side. Pitched outside and hit outside. Aside from that…
36th over: England 90-3 (Burns 41, Pope 1) That’s Ollie Pope at the crease, I was expecting Lawrence for some reason. How many Olivers does one team need? Pope gets off the mark with a leg glance against Henry. The wicket-taker now decides to try the short ball against Burns, three in the over but Burns doesn’t go for any.
“I’d suggest Zak Crawley could do with a spell in county cricket but he never really showed any form in county cricket. It was a gut selection that has paid off once and once only.” Not unreasonable comment from Kevin Wilson.
Right now Crawley is one of those rare players whose only Test century is a double. Two of them are in the Sky comms box, funnily. Key and Lloyd. Martin Donnelly for New Zealand is another, back in the 50s – he retired from cricket after a very brief career to do business things. Boring, Martin. There might be seven or eight all up, they’ll come to mind as we go along.
35th over: England 89-3 (Burns 41, Pope 0) Yep, that’s Burns getting comfortable. Leans into a square drive as he reads Wagner’s swing and pings it to the fence. Taking back something for England.
“In fairness the England over rate wouldn’t have made a whole lot of difference to the outcome of the last match (except perhaps getting it to finish earlier) if a whole day hadn’t been lost to rain,” says Robin Hazlehurst. “Was the weather also fined for its contribution to denying ticket holders a game to see?”
I’m not a scorer, but my napkin maths says that we saw about 345 overs in the match, which should have been more like 376 (being 90 + 90 + 98 + 98). Five of those overs were due after the handshake, and perhaps four were lost in innings changeovers (given the declaration came during a lunch break). So we lost somewhere north of 20 overs due to rates. Is 20 overs enough to take a team from three wickets down to all out? We’ve seen that many times before.
34th over: England 85-3 (Burns 37, Pope 0) Matt Henry has 2 for 25 from his 10 overs so far. Burns holding firm again, as he did in the first dig at Lord’s.
WICKET! Root c Blundell b Henry 4, England 85-3
Root goes! That’s the one! Henry took three wickets quickly in that World Cup semi-final on this ground, and he now has two quickly here. In the space of five balls he has Root edging on the bounce to gully, edging through the gap for four, then nicking behind. Slight movement away again, and maybe did him for pace too, Root a bit late on his defensive push and undone by the swing. CricViz numbers say there’s more swing after the break, which confirms what the eye suggests.
33rd over: England 81-2 (Burns 37, Root 0) Wagner produces a good stanza to Burns, just outside his off stump and asking a few questions. Plenty of threat in this New Zealand bowling line-up if they can keep the ball moving.
32nd over: England 81-2 (Burns 37, Root 0) Huge reception from the Edgbaston crowd for Joe Root as he walks to the middle. Really giving it the big ones. Henry gets a few wobbles again, first with a no-ball that Burns drives for three, then with a ball that beats Root’s edge but swerves in the air afterwards to beat the keeper Blundell and go for four byes.
WICKET! Crawley c Mitchell b Wagner 0, England 73-2
31st over: England 73-2 (Burns 34) Again from the last ball of the over. Zak Crawley got out twice at Lord’s to big drives early in his stay. And late in his stay, as it turned out when he edged them both behind. He nearly nicks another one early here, as Wagner lasers in at the right-hander’s off stump, and Crawley only wants to defend but it beats his bat. And that upsets his composure enough that even though the next ball is a fraction wider and a fraction fuller, not threatening his stumps, he still pushes at it. Defensively, but it takes him high enough on the bat to carry to third slip.
30th over: England 72-1 (Burns 33) Have to make sure that I’m writing about Matt Henry, who is not Jack Henry, who is a defender for the Geelong Cats, who I was watching during the lunch break. They beat Port Adelaide in a belter, if you want to know. Matt Henry though draws an edge from Sibley for four, then takes his wicket a couple of balls later. Relief for NZ.
WICKET! Sibley c Blundell b Henry 35, England 72-1
There it is at last! Henry with the first over after lunch, taking the wicket with its final ball. He hits a perfect length, Sibley unsure whether to come forward, eventually hangs back to defend from the back foot. Pushes just a little at it, hovering in his crease, indecisive, and Henry gets the ball to deck away. Not much, doesn’t need much. Fat nick, into the gloves.
Are you fed? Are you lunched? Are you watered? Let’s get into the second session.
Lunch – England 67 for 0
An excellent session for England, the first time since 2011 that their openers have batted through the first session of a home Test. Not such a great session for the spectator, with things moving at a pretty sedate pace, but there was plenty of high quality bowling to enjoy. Boult started beautifully, Wagner has done good work too. And Sibley and Burns have been equal to it, waiting patiently, doing just enough attacking when the opportunities came. New Zealand will be the more frustrated team, certainly. They’ll have 40 minutes to take some deep breaths and come back to try again.
29th over: England 67-0 (Burns 32, Sibley 31) We’ve almost got the overs in. 29 of them in the session rather than 30, as Patel starts the last one. He’s really teasing Sibley through the air, very slow, then slips in the faster in-dipper that very nearly pins him in front of off stump. Sibley gets his bat down just in time. No run, and lunch.
“Any idea where the 40% of the match fee fine to the England players last time round goes?” asks Brad Carpenter. “Does it go back to the spectators who paid 100% for their tickets for 90 overs a day?”
Haha, as if. It’s levied by the ICC via the match referee, so I’m not sure where it goes. It should go to women’s teams in emerging cricket countries, that would make a big difference.
28th over: England 67-0 (Burns 32, Sibley 31) Burns is playing with the edge a lot against Boult, trying to play square to the leg side but instead squeezing through the off side. The second such error yields him a couple of runs. Everything’s coming up Milhouse.
27th over: England 65-0 (Burns 30, Sibley 31) Burns is on the gallop against Patel, coming down to drive a single away through the off side. Sibley, conversely, is playing exclusively from the crease, getting his big giraffe legs all over the place like he’s coming down to drink, trying to keep some pad between ball and stumps in case the bat doesn’t do its job. It’s very entertaining stuff, he keeps out spin like he’s trying to throw a blanket over a fire.
26th over: England 64-0 (Burns 29, Sibley 31) Boult bowling, Burns defending everything that’s pitched up. But as soon as he sees a short ball he takes it on, as he did at Lord’s against Wagner. Only a single but a nice pull shot.
25th over: England 63-0 (Burns 28, Sibley 31) First runs off Patel, as each opener drops a ball away defensively and darts through. The third umpire takes a look at a run-out appeal from a direct hit for the second run, but Burns beat the Wagner throw home comfortably. Sibley picks up another boundary just as comfortably, pulling out the cut shot. That’s three boundaries through the off side for him now. Unthinkable.
24th over: England 57-0 (Burns 27, Sibley 26) Burns is getting going. Not quite a cut shot against Boult, more of a stab, as the ball is close to his body and Burns just jabs it away into the gap at gully for four. He plays a better version of the shot very next ball, more fluent, but this time Latham dives and grabs it on the bounce. These openers have done an excellent job so far.
23rd over: England 53-0 (Burns 23, Sibley 26) Patel tiptoes through the tulips and whispers his way through another six dot balls. Bowling to Sibley must be quite relaxing, in a way. Draws a false defensive shot from the inside of the bat at one stage.
“I was somewhat surprised to see mention of an eclipse in the OBO coverage,” writes John Harrington from Hertford (in Hertfordshire). It pays to be specific. “And even more surprised to see no one so far has mentioned Monty Python’s take on a Test match commentary team’s coverage of a solar eclipse. It’s two minutes long so you might be able to squeeze in a listen between now and the next run being scored.
22nd over: England 53-0 (Burns 23, Sibley 26) Trent Boult is back, and he starts with a couple of short balls, as if to say that no one should get too comfortable on the front foot against him. Sibley waits for a straighter ball and dinks it square for a run. That thing that he does, over and over.