is coming up. New Zealand resume on 62/2, with opener Tom Latham on 30*, joined last night by Neil Wagner as a nightwatchman. The redoubtable Wagner did his job, surviving 24 balls but you’d imagine that if New Zealand have any hopes of winning, he and the rest of them will need to crack on straight away. The tourists lead by 165. The weather is a little overcast here in North London and there are some showers forecast in St John’s Wood from about 5pm. The draw is a strong favourite.
BUT if the Kiwis can score quickly and declare at lunch they might be able to set England 280 in two sessions, if they’re feeling racy. I guess if Kane is feeling cautious he might think that they need to see off the England bowlers for an hour just to take the prospect of a collapse and a chase of 220 out of the picture. There were signs of up and down bounce yesterday, more than signs in fact, so batting last might not be at all easy.
And of course, with this highly entertaining but persistently erratic England team, you never quite know. Could you see them walloping the ball hither and yon and chasing down a score? Sure. Could you see them getting the collective wobbles and all getting bowled out for 108? Absolutely.
Michael Vaughan, for one, reckons that you can never be too sure about this England batting.
“You look at the first innings, Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence playing big fancydan drives early on. It’s just a mindset, a desperation to get the scoreboard ticking. I guess a little bit of nerves early in an innings, trying to play the pure way. That’s what these players like to do – they like to feel bat on ball regularly, which is something that I’d say, in flat conditions you can do but here at Lord’s when the ball was moving it wasn’t the right option.
So I think they’ve got to work out their mental side to understand that you’ve got to be able to score ugly runs at Test level – they can’t be that you’re always hitting the ball purely. It’s just impossible. Look at Henry Nicholls, Joe Root, and the centurion Rory Burns this Test – they grafted to get a score.”
England did bowl superbly yesterday, and with the overhead conditions in their favour, it might yet be that it is the hosts who have the better chance of a win from here. Simon Doull on Sky Sports says that the Kiwis will “be conservative.”