New Zealand v England first Test: Steven Finn heroics can't cure England of first Test syndrome

England 167 & 421-6 drew with New Zealand 460-9 dec: Nightwatchman secures the draw but tourists still don't know how to remedy cardinal defect

University Oval, Dunedin

England atoned for multiple misdemeanours by eking out a draw in the first Test yesterday. But that hardly equated to total redemption, which will be earned only when they achieve two things.

First, they must go on to win this series against New Zealand in the next fortnight, which is not the cast-iron certainty that it seemed only a week ago. Secondly, they must ensure that the next time they play an opening Test overseas they hit the ground more like Usain Bolt at his peak instead of as if they were performing blindfolded in a three-legged race.

These tourists are aware of this cardinal defect but also perplexed enough by it that they probably have no idea how to fix it. The only opening Test of an away series that they have won since 2004 was against Bangladesh, which barely counts. That apart, the total now comes to 13 matches, four draws and nine defeats. Of the 13 before that they won four and drew five and for much of that time they were pretty hopeless in any case.

The reason perhaps lies in a combination of packed schedules, which militate against proper preparation time, the fact that often in the first match of the series they are returning after a period of rest and the possibility, as in this case, that, subliminally at least, they feel superior to their opponents. A solution may be much more elusive. Most observers think they will just have to get on with it.

It is at least welcome that England tend to improve once the initial skirmish is out of the way. Last year, they lost the first match in Sri Lanka but won the next to draw the series, and in India they followed defeat with two of their most glorious victories.

All is therefore hardly lost against the battling Kiwis. England will not make the mistake, subliminal or otherwise, of taking them lightly again. The word is that the pitches in both Wellington and Auckland, venues for the next two Tests, are likely to be a little quicker, which can only help England's battery of fast bowlers.

There are few draws at the Basin Reserve, where the second Test starts on Thursday, and almost all have been caused by rain. Suffice to say that New Zealand win few matches there either – not once in six Tests since 2008.

Both sides will probably be unchanged. England's conundrum about the opening batsman to accompany Alastair Cook has been resolved after Nick Compton's stoical century and there is no reason to alter the bowling attack. Stuart Broad, if nothing else a proud competitor, has bought himself some time.

New Zealand did all that could have been expected of them and for the first two days, when the course of many Tests is established, ran the show. Brendon McCullum asked for a more competitive spirit and he got it, though not with the result he might have thought hove into view by the close of the third day. Achieving a draw in a match where the opposition forced all the pace was not quite as straightforward for England as it will look to those glancing at the scorebook in years to come. The teams shook hands at the earliest permitted time, with an hour left, when England were 128 ahead with four wickets in hand.

Just as the fourth day belonged to Compton, who scored a gallant and painstaking maiden hundred, the fifth was dominated by the nightwatchman, Steve Finn, who made 56, his maiden half-century in first-class cricket. Finn faced 203 balls, 153 more than he had faced in any innings before, and batted for four hours, 46 minutes. It was a sterling, almost heroic effort and ultimately much more necessary than it ought to have been. Finn saw three authentic batsmen depart and each one merely stiffened his resolve. His chief attribute was the forward prod, making excellent use of his long legs.

Advancing from 40 to 50 took 50 balls, the landmark finally arriving with a streaky four wide of the slips. The custom for bowlers who make 50, or so it has become, is to start some kind of breakdance, kiss the bat and the shirt before waving ecstatically at the crowd. Finn is made of sterner stuff. He seemed to breathe a sigh of relief and then raised his bat (no names of either manufacturer or sponsor in sight, which may change soon) sheepishly in the direction of the dressing-room veranda. The highest praise that can perhaps be accorded Finn's innings is that it was a surprise when he played a reckless sweep to be lbw to Bruce Martin.

There has been only one longer innings by a nightwatchman for England, and that was the five hours and six minutes in Bridgetown 23 years ago by Jack Russell, who with due respect to Finn was in a different class: a nightwatchman who would check the locks, close the windows and apprehend the thieves single-handed.

Compton, whose hundred was greeted with enormous elation and no little relief, was out before lunch, having added another 15 dogged runs to his overnight hundred. The warm feeling towards his feat is generated not only because his grandfather Denis was one of the greatest heroes English cricket has produced but also because Compo Jnr is so patently a fiercely dedicated professional cricketer.

After he was out England regrouped, only to have a wobble in the afternoon when Neil Wagner bowled with a big heart and much skill. But Ian Bell and Matt Prior ensured no further alarm. England, as so often before in the recent past, must start all over again.

Dunedin scoreboard

New Zealand v England

First Test, University Oval (fourth/fifth  day of five): New Zealand drew with England

New Zealand won toss

ENGLAND  First Innings 167 (Martin 4-43, Wagner 4-42)

NEW ZEALAND  First Innings  Overnight 402-7 (Rutherford 172, Fulton 55, Anderson 4-108)

*B B McCullum c Anderson b Broad 74

59 balls 3 sixes 9 fours

B P Martin c Prior b Finn 41

63 balls 0 sixes 8 fours

N Wagner not out 4

6 balls 0 sixes 0 fours

Extras (lb7) 7

Total (for 9 dec, 116.4 overs) 460

Fall: 1-158, 2-249, 3-267, 4-310, 5-321, 6-326, 7-370, 8-447, 9-460.

Did not bat: T A Boult.

Bowler spells: J M Anderson: 33-2-137-4 (5-1-18-0; 4-0-17-0; 5-0-10-1; 2-0-7-0; 3-1-15-0; 8-0-30-3; 6-0-40-0), S T Finn: 26.4-3-102-1 (8-2-23-0; 10-1-37-0; 1-0-4-0; 3-0-12-0; 4-0-26-0; 0.4-0-0-1), S C J Broad: 28-3-118-3 (5-1-16-0; 5-0-7-0; 6-1-16-0; 8-1-50-2; 4-0-29-1), M S Panesar: 22-2-83-1 (8-1-26-0; 11-0-51-1; 3-1-6-0), I J L Trott: 2-0-4-0 (one spell), J E Root: 5-1-8-0 (1-1-0-0; 3-0-4-0; 1-0-4-0).

ENGLAND  Second Innings

*A N Cook c Watling b Boult 116

252 balls 0 sixes 15 fours

N R D Compton lbw b Wagner 117

310 balls 0 sixes 12 fours

S T Finn lbw b Martin 56

203 balls 0 sixes 5 fours

I J L Trott c & b Wagner 52

94 balls 0 sixes 8 fours

K P Pietersen c Watling b Wagner 12

26 balls 0 sixes 1 fours

I R Bell not out 26

84 balls 0 sixes 4 fours

J E Root run out 0

2 balls 0 sixes 0 fours

†M J Prior not out 23

50 balls 0 sixes 3 fours

Extras (b6 lb11 w1 nb1) 19

Total (for 6, 170 overs) 421

Fall: 1-231, 2-265, 3-355, 4-367, 5-386, 6-390.

Did not bat: S C J Broad, J M Anderson, M S Panesar.

Bowler spells: TG Southee: 36-8-94-0 (1nb) (4-2-8-0; 4-0-13-0; 5-0-9-0; 2-0-8-0; 8-2-27-0; 7-0-24-0; 2-1-3-0; 4-3-2-0), TA Boult: 35-12-49-1 (7-3-10-0; 5-1-7-0; 3-0-11-0; 11-5-12-1; 4-1-2-0; 2-1-2-0; 3-1-6-0), N Wagner: 43-9-141-3 (1wd) (6-2-16-0; 5-1-20-0; 6-1-24-0; 3-0-4-0; 10-2-40-1; 8-2-20-2; 3-1-15-0; 2-0-2-0), BP Martin: 44-13-90-1 (13-5-31-0; 5-2-7-0; 3-0-7-0; 4-0-16-0; 6-0-16-0; 1-0-2-0; 5-4-1-0; 6-2-9-1; 1-0-1-0), KS Williamson: 12-3-30-0 (4-1-9-0; 1-0-4-0; 5-2-9-0; 2-0-8-0).

Fourth-day progress: New Zealand: B B McCullum: 50 off 47 balls (8 fours, 1 six), 450 runs in 113.2 overs, Innings: 460-9 in 116.4 overs (N Wagner 4) - England: 50 runs in 19.5 overs, Lunch: 58-0 in 22 overs, 100 runs in 32.2 overs, A N Cook: 50 off 98 balls (6 fours), N R D Compton: 50 off 143 balls (5 fours), Tea: 139-0 in 54 overs, 150 runs in 58.1 overs, 200 runs in 73.3 overs, Cook: 100 off 221 balls (13 fours), Compton: 100 off 259 balls (10 fours), Close: 234-1 in 87 overs.

Fifth-day progress: England: 250 runs in 95.1 overs, 300 runs in 110.5 overs. Lunch: 329-2 in 123 overs.  I J L Trott: 50 off 78 balls (8 fours), 350 runs in 131.4 overs, S T Finn: 50 off 142 balls (5 fours),Tea: 382-4 in 151 overs, 400 runs in 157.5 overs. Close: 421-6 in 170 overs.

Umpires: Asad Rauf (Pak) and P R Reiffel (Aus).

TV Umpire: R J Tucker (Aus).

Match referee: R S Mahanama (S Lanka).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
The coffin containing the remains of King Richard III is carried on a procession for interrment at Leicester Cathedral on 22 March 2015 in Leicester, England.
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?