England admitted today that they have fallen far short of the required standard in their Test series against New Zealand. They are staring down the barrel at a heavy defeat in the Third Test, 390 runs behind with only six wickets in hand against a side six places below them in the world ratings.
“I think it’s a great reality check that you can’t take any team lightly and you can’t play people on what it says in a ranking or on a piece of paper,” said Graham Gooch, their batting coach. “You have to play good cricket on the field to compete and certainly in two out of three matches so far, New Zealand have been in the ascendancy.”
England were humiliated at times during the fourth day of the match. Needing to prevent their opponents building too quickly on their lead to have a chance of still winning the match they saw all hope swiftly lost. The Kiwis added a further 206 runs in 35 overs today with Peter Fulton scoring his second hundred of the match.
Gooch said: “After they were 30 for three on Sunday, if we’d had a good hour this morning we could have put them under some pressure but they were equal to that and accelerated away and put us to the sword a bit today.
“Our performance is not up to the standard we have produced in the past on a consistent basis so we will have to look at that. I wouldn’t say we have taken them lightly after the first game when they dominated. They have some good cricketers and some good young bowlers.
“Losing those two wickets towards the end has made them favourites to win the game. But we have got to believe we can save the game.
Fulton, who reached his second hundred of the match with his fifth sixth of the innings, said: “I’m not sure it’s really sunk in yet. I haven’t had too much time to think it, but clearly a pretty special day
“The situation of the game helped, it’s a bit tougher to play like that on day one – you hit one straight up in the air and you get castigated for it but it was nice to show a few people, who don’t watch a lot of domestic cricket, that I can bat like that and can adapt to the situation.”