New Zealand v England: 'One-Test series' to decide outcome after rain hits play

Final Test starts later this week

This series is suddenly much more than a minor distraction on the way to the Ashes. A complacent opening by England, some New Zealand resolve that was not entirely expected and the end of the drought have seen to that.

So it is that the teams will arrive in Auckland level at 0-0 with the outcome of the tour in the balance. It is still possible to be overwhelmingly supportive of England’s chances when the Third Test starts at Eden Park on Friday but anyone’s blasé approach to the eventual result has long since been devoured as if swallowed up by the Rotorua geysers.

England claim that they never at any stage took the opposition lightly, always aware they would be in a tough contest but the manner in which they came out slugging on the first morning at Dunedin rather suggested otherwise. It was the boxer who forgets all about defence and walks into his opponent’s right hand, the tennis player who attempts a winning volley off every stroke.

It took England only a day to wake up to the stark fact and they arrived in Wellington honed and wary. They had much the better of the match which was ruined by the loss of much of the fourth and all the fifth day, although New Zealand had already demonstrated that they were not about to fold easily being 162 for 2 in their second innings.

What is certain is that England came here brimful of confidence after their stirring deeds in India at the end of last year when they came from 1-0 down in the most alien conditions of all to win the series 2-1.  By contrast, the Kiwis had been given salutary lesson in the craft of Test cricket by South Africa, the world’s top ranked team, losing both Tests by an innings.

On the evidence of the two matches as a whole so far, England have played a little worse than expected, New Zealand have been much better. While it was plain that England were the superior team at Basin Reserve a draw it was and they now have to be careful at Eden Park.

Doubtless it would be tempting to go all out for a crushing victory from the first ball to show why they were such large favourites when it all began. Their captain, Alastair Cook, wisely counselled against that.

“In five days, you don't need to chase the game if you get good weather,” he said. “That's good enough to get the result, so that's the worst thing you can do going into the game. If you start chasing it from ball one, you leave yourself very exposed and come unstuck. You've got to earn the right, and get yourself in position to win the game.”

It is possible that Cook could have been pro-active after imposing the follow on in Dunedin. He conceded that he only did so because of the dire weather forecast, which duly turned out to be correct and ended New Zealand’s long drought. The saving of the Test was apparently very much a secondary reason for delight.

These days it is unfashionable for sides to ask opponents to bat again partly because of tiring out bowlers now rest days are a thing of the past, partly out of fear of having to bat last, which can bring their only chance of defeat.

Having been influenced by the weather once and reckoning he had a possible 80 overs Cook could in that case have decided on a policy of all out attack, a ring of slips, a man under the batsman’s nose throughout. Instead he was much more cautious which might have made New Zealand feel a little more secure. They were, however, admirably tenacious.

Both Cook and his counterpart, Brendon McCullum were careful to place no blame on the pitches which have been criticised in some quarters for being much too benign. With five days’ cricket, the captains said, there would have been positive results in both matches.

As Cook emphasised there were some good things to come out of the second Test for his team, most obviously the second consecutive hundred for Nick Compton and the return to form of Stuart Broad who took 6 for 51 in New Zealand’s first innings.

If the drop-in pitch in Auckland offers a little more pace and bounce than the real things at Dunedin and Wellington, then England would be pleased. It would probably help to continue Broad’s startling recovery as he once again unfurled some long forgotten, potent wicket-taking balls.

“He's always had that ability to do that,” said Cook. “In the Ashes 2009 he did it there. It was great to see him delivering again like that. He's certainly back to his best, and he ran in as well as I've seen him for a while. I think he's fully confident now with his heel, and it's great to have a senior bowler back.”

By putting it like that Cook gave a little hint that he, like others, was concerned about Broad’s form. Its return and a ten-day forecast in Auckland which suggests fair weather make 0-0 in the series a more distant prospect, though still much nearer than anybody supposed a fortnight ago.

Life and Style
Social media users in Mexico who commented on cartel violence have been killed in the past
techTweets not showing up or loading this morning, users say
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker