On the brink of an overseas test victory
We go into the third and final test of the series against New Zealand 1-0 up and within touching distance of an important overseas test series victory.
However, the job isn’t done just yet. Before we focus too much on what it will take to get the better of the Black Caps in Wellington, I think it’s worth reflecting on what was an excellent team performance in the second test in Hamilton.
Nine wickets was the victory margin in the end, but at one stage it really was nip and tuck before we managed to pull away. I thought the New Zealanders started well, with a good partnership between Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor, and there was a time when we thought we may end up regretting our decision to bowl first. But, we also knew that we had the firepower in our bowling attack and that, once we got the wicket of either of those two batsmen, we could do some damage. Fortunately, that’s exactly what happened.
We then got ourselves into a spot of bother at 88 for six, and that’s when it was clear that we had to fight as we had given the initiative away. That being said, once we had that lead of 68 I felt that it would be very difficult for the New Zealanders to get back in the game. Our bowlers did the job once again, and, looking back on the test, I think the only time that things were in the balance was around lunchtime on day two when we were six down in our first innings.
In terms of the wicket, it looked like a decent wicket on day one, with the new ball doing something early on. Certainly, when we went out to bat in the afternoon, it had a nice shine to it and looked like a good wicket to bat on. But, day two saw the wicket slow considerably and it was soon very clear that it would be a wicket that you would have to graft for runs on. That’s how it played for the rest of the game, with the new ball continuing to do something and the wicket drying up a lot. Our bowlers managed to reverse swing the ball, and that’s how we picked up wickets – credit to our bowlers, as they were fantastic and very skilful.
Just looking at my own performance with the bat (29 and 1), I obviously didn’t do much. I had the ideal opportunity in the first innings to get a big score as there was lots of time left in the game, but it wasn’t to be. I was at the wicket when AB walked in with us at 69 for four, and I thought that if I could bat through another session with him, we could take the game away from the Black Caps. It was disappointing that that didn’t happen, but I’m hoping to put that right in the next test.
In terms of how I got out, I thought I fell over a bit in the first innings when I was LBW, although the ball from Mark Gillespie did do a little. The second innings I just received a very good ‘nut’ from Doug Bracewell, and, as an opening batsman in test cricket, that is going to happen when you are facing up to the new ball.
Although the job wasn’t completely done, in terms of the series victory, we did manage some celebrating after the win in Hamilton. Test victories, and in particular overseas test victories, don’t come around every day, so it’s important to celebrate them.
We did that and now we move on to Wellington, where we are hoping to wrap up the series. It will, though, require another good performance. I thought we combined really well in Hamilton and produced an excellent performance under pressure, but we will have to step up once again.