England's hopes of making a quick breakthrough were dashed by a brilliant century from Stephen Fleming, as New Zealand consolidated their first day's position this morning. It was the second time in two days that England have had a bad morning session, and at lunch, they were probably still struggling to digest the 118-run sixth-wicket stand between Fleming and Chris Cairns.
This was Fleming's maiden Test century and he fully deserved the rapturous applause that greeted it. Apart from a couple of testing moments against Cork, this was an assured and mature knock that has made England's chance of getting anything more than a draw from this game, increasingly remote.
A tall, elegant left-hander, Fleming has under-performed in the past, when his concentration has tended to become even more languid than his strokeplay. Not so here against England where his bat has been as free swinging as a pendulum and his mind as steady as grandfather clock.
Ironically, England started far more promisingly than they had on the previous day, and it was not until the fourth over that New Zealand posted their first runs of the morning as Fleming edged Cork wide of second slip. Cork bustled in with his usual mixture of rhythm and swing, almost turning Cairns inside out with a beauty that the batsman had aimed through mid- wicket, but missed by a country mile.
Cairns is essentially a strokeplayer with a wide range of hard hit strokes that contain enough elements of risk to give the bowler a chance. Having already been dropped once by Gough off Mullally on the first evening, he gave the tall bowler a chance to redress the situation when he chipped back a return catch.
Unfortunately for Mullally, his follow through had thrown him off balance and he ended up flailing one-handed at the ball like a man swatting midges. It was a miss Cairns later capitalised upon when striking Tufnell for two thumping sixes in an entertaining 67. His frolic was ended by Craig White as the batsman edged a slower ball to the keeper.
Second day; England won toss
NEW ZEALAND - First Innings
S P Fleming not out 105
C L Cairns c Stewart b White 67
*L K Germon not out 2
Extras (b5 lb7 w2 nb17) 31
Total (for 6, 118 overs) 338
Fall cont: 6-333.
To bat: D N Patel, S B Doull, D K Morrison.
Bowling: Cork 28-8-82-2 (nb4); Mullally 25-10-44-1 (nb4 w2); Gough 25- 3-69-1 (nb6); Tufnell 25-5-80-0; White 15-3-51-2 (nb3).
Umpires: S A Bucknor and R S Dunne.
TV replay umpire: D B Cowie.
Match referee: P J P Burge.
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