Ian Little, an unrepentant British sports fan, reports on the second day of the third test with G and T in hand and the
TV turned on.
You know when English sports fans start hoping for rain on the second day of a test things are not looking good.
Linford Christie fails a drug test, the upcoming national rugby league still in court and hardly a British player taking
to the field as the Premier League starts today, gloomy times and the English team seem to be already hoping that the
gloom turns to three days of rain at Old Trafford.
Watching Channel Four the plan for the English team seemed easy, graft out the day and then watch the New Zealand
batting line up collapse on a deteriorating wicket.
The first part of the plan went reasonably well, as mainly thanks to Mark Ramprakash and Peter Such the horrific looking
figures of 104 for five were turned into 199.
Andy Caddick showed England some glimmer of hope in face of the super slow bowling of Chris Harris when he hit him for
six, but then he got himself run out.
Ramprakash then came to the fore scoring 69 as Such compiled a resilient duck over 70 minutes at the other to give the
innings some shape.
Part one of the cunning plan completed, I poured the first G and T of the day and waited for the pitch to crack…
As the first drink turned into the third, the wicket just went flat and the NZ batting line up looked comfortable with
Stephen Fleming showing signs of real class at times.
Matthew Bell after surviving what all in Britain decided was a clear lbw, decided that he wasn't going anywhere and
gritted it out as Matthew Horne at the other end went for the runs.
Only Dean Headley gave the England attack a sense of purpose as Caddick allowed the batsman to leave the ball alone.
Such wasn't bad either, but Tufnell was milked.
Horne put on 39 - falling after Caddick finally bowled straight and then Fleming 38 - lbw - as 88 runs were put on and
two wickets fell in the final session. New Zealand will begin the third day 71 runs behind on 128 for two. Matthew Bell
on 31 and Nathan Astle, on 10, though Astle was riding his luck.
Finally, the esteemed experts at Wisden seem determined to wind up the seemingly easily goaded New Zealand public. The
latest comments, New Zealand weren't that good on the second day, England just made two mistakes that ruined it for
themselves - the Caddick run out and the slips dropping Horne on zero. There hopeful prediction "England are prone to
the odd shoddy half-day in the field, and they often come back strongly from it."