The recent two Test match “series” between England and New Zealand finished all-square with both sides getting what they deserved but the punters missing out on what should have been a deciding third game.
England can only be glad that there was no deciding rubber and New Zealand were restricted to just the two tests – NZ weren’t that great when the tours were planned out years ago. As the visitors were the better all round side and had just about warmed up by the time they’d won just their fifth test on English soil, at Headingley, to square the series.
From the first morning when they had England 30 for 4 bar a couple of sessions New Zealand looked to be in control.
The bowlers were on line and length from the off, where as England’s leading exponents were all over the place, while the batsmen scored at rates Cook’s men for the most part can only dream of, while their captain, along with some of his own players, showed the frailties in Cook’s on field leadership.
The media also played their part with the usual glossing over reports.
We still hear about Anderson being this great bowler because in the first test he picked up his 400th run. If he was all that good in the conditions at Lord’s he wouldn’t have walked away with just one wicket in each inning. Again at Leeds he would have picked up more than two per inning if he was anywhere near as special as we are repeatedly told.
Of the main pace bowlers used in the series only Southee and Stokes had a worse average than Anderson, Southee took more wickets and bowl two thirds as many more overs than Anderson. Of the New Zealand attack all those that bowled more than 10 overs took more wickets than Anderson. People point out he didn’t go for many runs, yet don’t point out that’s because in the main players don’t have to play at most of his deliveries, yes you get the highlight balls on the highlights but there’s a lot of rubbish that doesn’t make the cut.
Broad and Anderson highlighted their main problem when facing the tail. There’s very few balls going to hit the stumps. While telegraphing the short stuff, which generally they are useless at due to being far too slow for it to be intimidating – hell even Broad wouldn’t flinch at that pair’s stuff – they have absolutely no variety.
Clueless, brainless, arrogant.
Now either that was the plan set out beforehand, the short pitch rubbish, in which case all involved in the plan should be sacked for incompetence. Or Broad and Anderson took it upon themselves to do as they liked, faced with the knowledge that a weak captain won’t argue. Broad shows it with the way he demands field changes to cover for poor bowling rather than to take wickets. Didn’t do his average that good when he went for the most expensive five-for in history of the game with regards economy, 6.34 an over.
In that final day we also saw the other glaring problem that the media don’t like to talk about. Bell, bottling it again.
They’ll come out with the same old trite statement about form, class, temporary and all that rubbish, while lumping Ballance in to soften the blow of having to criticise one of their favourites.
Ballance, a young player going through second year syndrome has some problems yes but during these few difficult innings he has averaged 35, while Bell a seasoned pro with over 100 tests is averaging less than 7.
And as for class, well talk up all the shots and style you want but history shows that bar the odd occasion Bell only performs when those batting before him have softened up the opposition, piling on a load of runs and tiring out the attack before he comes in or when his place is being questioned. Certainly no leader, ridiculously given the vice-captaincy previously.
Someone that shouldn’t be pampered the way we’re told he likes to be. Someone who shouldn’t be able to dictate where he fields when he drops so many slip catches because he doesn’t want to go under the helmet.
Oh he might score some runs against Australia but only because of the situations stated above.
New Zealand were good, are good – they deserve better than a two match Ashes warm up series – but they’re only third in the world rankings, Australia are better, their bowlers are faster, does anyone really expect Anderson, Broad and Bell to win this Ashes?