94th over: New Zealand 231-4 (Williamson 35, Mitchell 8) Leach whirls away, Mitchell pounces on a shorter one and works him away for a couple. Seriously though, seriously – what would a challenging target be? If new Zealand manage to bat most of the day at a fairly decent lick then they should be up by 200 runs? Will the extra whiff of pressure from a potential follow-on-gone-wrong creep into the seemingly untroubled minds of the English batting line up?
93rd over: New Zealand 229-4 (Williamson 35, Mitchell 6) Mitchell flicks through mid-wicket and a forever young Stuart Broad does admirably well to chase after it and haul it down a foot from the boundary.
92nd over: New Zealand 226-4 (Williamson 35, Mitchell 3) Daryl Mitchell is the new batter. Leach gives his second over some more air, inviting the imposing ‘Moose’ to have a booming drive. Mitchell declines the offer but does squirt one off his toes into the leg side to make it SCORES LEVEL. Righto, every run now hurts England a teensie bit more.
A juggling catch at third slip – Harry Brook just about clings on at the fourth attempt! Robinson got the ball to dart across Nicholls and the batter couldn’t resist but have a little fence at it. England have the breakthrough and a very slender lead.
91st over: New Zealand 222-4 (Williamson 34, Mitchell 2)
90th over: New Zealand 222-3 (Williamson 34, Nicholls 29) Ben Stokes summons Jack Leach, Jeeves to his Custer. Williamson and Nicholls are watchful, Leach isn’t tossing it up very much, more darting it down. Give it some air Jack!
Andrew Benton weighs in on the thorny issue of the follow-on:
“By declaring, Stokes has given the initiative to NZ. If England don’t pootle NZ out pretty pronto then the pressure will be on England in the fourth innings. If England had instead come in and made another 250 or so to take the lead to 480, then the pressure would be on NZ in the fourth innings. The end of B**B*** is nigh…!”
A view shared by many on the email this morning/evening.
89th over: New Zealand 219-3 (Williamson 33, Nicholls 27) Robinson gets one to climb a touch and Nicholls squeezes it off his bat and it balloons off his pad up and way over a diving Ollie Pope at short leg.
Lovely this from Kevin Graham:
“I’m reminded of Peaches, that old classic by the Stranglers in which Hugh Cornwell at one point lyrically observes “Oh shit, there goes the charabanc… So I’d suggest the Charabaz”
The intro would certainly make for good walk-on music eh Kevin?
88th over: New Zealand 218-3 (Williamson 33, Nicholls 26) A nudged single to square leg from Williamson brings up the fifty stand to this pair. Nicholls clips to mid-wicket to tick off another and the deficit is reduced to eight runs.
87th over: New Zealand 216-3 (Williamson 32, Nicholls 25) Eeesh, Nicholls lets one go that just misses off stump, the ball passing so close it was able to whisper sweet nothings into the bail groove. Perhaps. A maiden from the miserly Robinson.
86th over: New Zealand 216-3 (Williamson 32, Nicholls 25) Eight runs are plundered off the over and Anderson is ticking, he hates going for runs. Williamson drives him down the ground to collect three and Henry Nicholls glides deftly for four behind point. Perky start for the home side.
Francis Spencer whangs an email down with a B**B*** alternative…
“How about Tosstesterone”
Toby Harris chimes in:
“Surely Winball is all you need?”
I reckon we’ve got more to give chaps.
85th over: New Zealand 208-3 (Williamson 29, Nicholls 20) Ollie Robinson starts at t’other end. Nicholls works him away for a couple to get himself moving this morning/evening.
84th over: New Zealand 206-3 (Williamson 29, Nicholls 18) Anderson starts with three dots but then goes a smidge full and Williamson clips him for four off his toes. That’s the milestone for Kane Williamson! He becomes New Zealand’s leading run scorer in Test Cricket and barely acknowledges the fact, as is his wont. I think I detected a slight nod of the head but there was certainly nothing more than that. There’s a job to do after all.
That’s some achievement, here’s the list Kiwi batting talent that he now sits atop.
James Anderson has the ball, the sun is shining in Wellington – PLAY!
Now, we know England will try to chase whatever target the hosts manage to put on the board but what sort of a score will have them twitching a little on the back seat of the BazBus*? Anything over 200? Or will this England side hunt down – with lip smacking relish – any size of target? 300, 350? Heck I don’t even know anymore.
*I’ve called it an applecart and a bus so far but what should we call this thing? McCullum doesn’t like the B-word and This-New-Ultra-Aggressive-Approach-To-Test-Match-Cricket-Favoured-By-Ben Stokes-Brendon-McCullum-(Not Forgetting Rob Key)-And-Their-England-Team doesn’t quite do the biz.
(TNUAATTMCFBBSBMNFRKATET for short… catchy eh?)
I’m sure the OBO hivemind can come up with some snappier alternatives that Brendon can get on board with?
Hello and welcome to the day four OBO of New Zealand v England from Wellington. So how does the land lie on the southern tip of the North Island?
To enforce or not to enforce – the follow on, that was the question that faced Ben Stokes yesterday morning. Of course he chose to enforce, that was the most aggressive approach after all, with the possibility of rattling through the Kiwis and securing a victory inside three days surely at the forefront of the England captain’s mind. Frustratingly for him and his side, New Zealand had other ideas and duly set about batting far more competently than they had in their first innings second time around. As is often the case when a side is asked to follow on in Test cricket.
An obdurate opening stand of 149 between Tom Latham and Devon Conway chipped away at England’s lead and now Kane Williamson is at the crease just four runs away from overtaking Ross Taylor to become his country’s leading Test run-scorer. If there’s one batter who could upset the B**B** applecart then it could be Williamson with the bit between his teeth.
The game is tantalisingly poised then, New Zealand are 24 runs behind England with seven wickets in the hutch. Play begins at 21:30 GMT (10:30am local time) and it promises to be an intriguing day of Test match criggit.