Although it doesn't take a genius to realise that England were in an unpromising position after day one of the second Test, those turning up for the yesterday's play by Tube were no doubt surprised by the announcements greeting trains on the Jubilee Line. "This is St John's Wood," intoned the announcer. "Change here for another humiliation in the cricket."
As the latest keepers of the flame, Channel 4 have been throwing all manner of experts and gizmos at the coverage in an attempt to modernise and glamourise the sport. However, if it is accuracy and dogma they want, they could add one more.
Ten hours after informing the public, the man from London Underground was almost spot on, and just before England took three wickets in the last 40 minutes of play they were staring another Lord's defeat square in the eye. As it stands, they trail New Zealand, who have four wickets standing, by 56 runs.
If the situation is not quite as parlous as when the score was 232 for 3, it is still not promising. Apart from Matt Horne's gritty 100 from 224 balls and Roger Twose's half-century, it has been New Zealand's lower order that have been the danger men in recent weeks. If England are to stay in this match they will have to remove them before the lead gets into three figures.
The sole reason England now chase this game is down to atrocious batting. Apart from Nasser Hussain, who added just two runs to his overnight score before being caught down the leg side to give Chris Cairns his sixth wicket, England's batsmen have simply not applied themselves. So far New Zealand have, a feature that, although admirable, did not make for a memorable spectacle on a sun-blessed day.
Occasionally style does matter, and if the 120-run partnership between the glacier-like Horne and the pugnacious Twose brought cooing noises of contentment from their captain, it did not please everyone. As the visitors passed 200 an elderly gent went up to a startled Dean Headley and said: "This is ****ing boring, do something about it."
Horne may not be pretty to watch, but he is gutsy and aware of his limitations. Early in his innings he took a nasty blow on the point of the elbow. England noticed the discomfort and peppered him some more, though he resisted playing the hook shot until he had reached his fifty.
When he did flap at one Phil Tufnell, fielding at fine leg, allowed the chance to burst through his hands. On a day when England's bowling was steady rather than inspired, it was a howler and certainly easier than the one Alec Stewart floored when Twose skied a pull shot on 34. Others may be less charitable and point out that it is the third catch Stewart has spilt against New Zealand in as many innings.
There are few less heartening sights for pace bowlers than azure blue skies. Cloud cover is what they crave, and when England bowled there was hardly a fluffy one in sight.
The new ball was always going to be crucial, and while Andy Caddick occasionally looked threatening, Mullally had trouble in finding an optimum line. New Zealand's opening pair of Horne and Matthew Bell are more limpet than batsman and it needed a change of bowling to prise one from the rock pool, though the nip-backer from Dean Headley that saw off Bell looked so high that Channel 4's caption initially had him out caught behind.
Headley has struggled with his rhythm as well as his boots this season. He used two pairs yesterday, changing them in mid-over after Nathan Astle had cracked one away to the point boundary. The next ball went the same way and you sensed there was the merest hesitation in the 12th man's stride as he took the discarded pair back to the dressing-room.
The breach made, it was Mullally who struck next, removing the captain Stephen Fleming to a catch down the leg side. If it was an unlucky way to go, Fleming contributed to it. A tall man, he tends to plant his front foot early. It means he overbalances when the ball isn't exactly where he expects it to be, which is why the leg glance went fine to Chris Read rather than down to long leg for a single.
It was the tall left-armer who also accounted for Astle after the number four had threatened to cut loose. It is fairly well known in cricketing circles that you bowl it short in to Astle's ribs if you want to inconvenience him. As seven of his nine boundaries came from front foot strokes this tactical gambit must have slipped England's collective mind. It was only when Mullally returned for his second spell that the ball was bowled there, and Astle promptly obliged the bowler by gloving it to the keeper.
England had to wait 38 overs for their next success, and with Tufnell largely used to block up the Nursery End, it was Headley who finally hustled Twose into miscueing his pull to mid-on. With the new ball taken and his tail up, Headley forced the now strokeless Horne to edge to third slip. Moments later, in the last over, Caddick produced a lifter which brushed McMillan's gloves.
The Tudor fiasco, page 28
Second day; England won toss
ENGLAND - First Innings
(Overnight: 183 for 9)
*N Hussain c Parore b Cairns 61
223min, 144 balls, 11 fours
P C R Tufnell not out 1
16min, 7 balls
Extras (b5, lb8, nb14) 27
Total (284 min, 61.1 overs) 186
Bowling: Allott 10-1-37-0 (nb3) (6-1-21-0, 2-0-9-0, 2-0-7-0); Cairns 21.1-1-77-6 (nb11); (9-1-18-1, 8-0-44-2, 4.1-0-15-3); Nash 23-11-50-3 (18-9-36-3, 5-2-14-0); Astle 7-3-9-0 (2-2-0-0, 5-1-9-0).
NEW ZEALAND - First Innings
M J Horne c Hussain b Headley 100
367min, 224 balls, 13 fours
M D Bell lbw b Headley 15
64min, 47 balls, 2 fours
*S P Fleming c Read b Mullally 1
5min, 5 balls
N J Astle c Read b Mullally 43
77min, 61 balls, 9 fours
R G Twose c Caddick b Headley 52
184min, 153 balls, 5 fours
C D McMillan c Read b Caddick 3
39min 30 balls
D L Vettori not out 2
6min, 3 balls
Extras (lb17, nb9) 26
Total (for 6, 85.4 overs) 242
Fall: 1-43 (Bell), 2-45 (Fleming), 3-112 (Astle), 4-232 (Twose), 5-239 (Horne), 6-242 (McMillan).
To bat: A C Parore, C L Cairns, D J Nash, G I Allott.
Bowling: Mullally 19-6-58-2 (10-4-36-1, 4-1-10-1, 5-1-12-0); Caddick 22.4-8-59-1 (nb1) (5-1-11-0, 7-4-12-0, 5-0-29-0, 3-1-7-0, 2.4-2-0-1); Headley 22-752-3 (nb5) (8-1-33-1, 9-4-10-1, 5-2-9-2); Tufnell 18-3-48- 0 (nb3) (4-1-10-0, 10-2-32-0, 4-0-6-0); Butcher 3-0-7-0; Ramprakash 1- 0-1-0 (one spell each).
Progress: 50: 74 min, 16.5 overs. Lunch: 75-2 (Horne 32, Astle 19) 23 overs. 100: 123 min, 27.4 overs. 150: 194 min, 43.4 overs. Tea: 163-3 (Horne 70, Astle 14) 51 overs. 200: 274 min, 63 overs. New ball taken after 80 overs at 238-4.
Horne 50: 175 min, 116 balls, 7 fours. 100: 331 min, 203 balls, 13 fours.
Twose 50: 184 min, 152 balls, 5 fours.
Umpires: M J Kitchen (Eng) and R E Koertzen (SA).
TV Replay Umpire: N T Plews.
Match Referee: P L van der Merwe
Compiled by Jo KingReuse content