England v New Zealand: second Test, day five – live! | England v New Zealand 2022


Branderson are out and getting loose. It’s nearly time.

“Gevaldig was an interesting word,” tweets @RdgUltima. “Reminds me of the Japanese word Sugoi, which means this is good but in a manner of happy on the inside. The word gets overused in Japanese television ALL THE TIME. We ought to send the word gevaldig to Japan TV executives.”

That’s a great word – any equivalents in other languages? I especially like those which take a sentence to explain – in Hebrew, for example, if you do something davka you do it “just because, often to deliberately antagonise and for no reason”; a davkanik is someone who does davka things regularly.

“While everyone is right to marvel at Root’s post-captaincy step-up into the frankly ridiculous,’ says Robert Wilson, “and his spooky habit of getting into the mid-forties before you’ve even noticed that he’s there, it’s making me wistful about Graham Thorpe. While not having Root’s full batting vocabulary, Thorpe also tended to be in the twenties or mid-thirties by some magical sleight of hand. And all this in a much darker era of pain, fear and despond. They’re like those blokes whose fates were decided by being born ten or fifteen years apart last century. Thorpe ends up at the Somme and Ypres without playing a front foot shot in a decade and Root, for all his travails, laughs it up through the Roaring Twenties with F Scott Fitzgerald and Louise Brooks. They would have been incredible together. And I hope poor Thorpey, sadly ill, pulls through and gets better.”

Agreed. Paul Collingwood MBE was also one of those, more in the Thorpey mode but also able to manipulate the ball and somehow accumulate without apparently accumulating.

Asked about getting Blundell out yesterday, Broad explains that he’s been using a man out at deep square in county cricket when the ball goes soft or the pitch offers nowt to try and make something happen. But McCullum suggested bringing him into a catching position given if he’s on the fence, a yard either side and it’s four anyway, whereas further in, the best players will try and go over or past him which means they’re a miscue away from dismissal. Not bad.

Stuart Broad is excited, and is also eager to note that only Test cricket gives you this. “We were awesome yesterday, to create those chances,” he says. He knows England were handed some wickets, but reckons they came about because of the pressure his team created. He’s not seen many better tracks than this one, saying that teams have gone around four an over batting properly – Root’s ramp apart – never mind chasing a win on day five. On the bus last night, the players were saying it’s a dream day of cricket, getting to see both teams bat and bowl, and it’s such a joy to see such a gnarled competitor buzzing off the simple joy of spending the working day engaged in something as wonderful as this.

Breaking news: Kyle Jamieson will bat at 10, which leaves Boult at 11 and means he needs one run to regain the most runs at number 11 mace from James Anderson.

Trent Boult looks extremely happy to be where he is, and why wouldn’t he. He enjoyed his slower-ball dismissal of Root yesterday, referencing it with no prompting – imagine being able to toss that into a chinwag – and notes how much he and the rest of the dressing room love the symbolism of both the Black Caps and Test cricket. You and us both, old mate. He praises “Baz” McCullum, or “Bez” as he pronounces it – what an image that is – for having a brilliant cricket brain, and can’t understand why the draw is favourite, especially given who’s in charge of the England team.

For those not in the UK, here’s the TMS link:

There’s bit a lot of controversy recently – and rightly so – about how much it costs to attend a Test match. So well done Nottinghamshire for making today’s entry free – it’s just a shame it’s not half-term, but I hope some parents are homeschooling today.

Just watching some highlights, I missed Mark Butcher calling Root “The unstoppable run machine”. Lovely stuff.

I enjoyed this.

It’s mad to think really, it wasn’t just that the others were in better nick than Root, it looked like they’d left behind, for good. Remember when he couldn’t convert fifties into hundreds? And now look!

Preamble

Waking up in the middle of the night and feeling that feeling without knowing why; the brain catching up with the body, both suddenly ablaze with possibilities, unable to rest; the spring in the step. You just cannot beat this thing of ours.

There’s a Yiddish word, gevaldig, which – unusually for Yiddish – doesn’t refer to pain, emotional incontinence or, er, body-parts. Rather, it means tremendous, amazing and stupendous all mixed – with, I like to think, an element of spiritual uplift. Test cricket is gevaldig.

And there’s another Yiddish word, mechayeh, which means a rare pleasure – with, I like to think, an affirming aspect for which it’s worth being alive. Arriving at day five of a Test match with all four results possible and no serious inkling as to which of them will eventuate is a mechayeh.

By my admittedly shonky calculations, this makes what we’re about to enjoy a gevaldig mechayeh. Given such things don’t come around all that often, it is incumbent upon us to savour this one.

The likeliest outcome remains the draw because ultimately, neither side has quite enough firepower to force themselves home on a pitch doing not quite enough. Yesterday morning, we noted that were it not for the quantity of dropped catches, first-innings scores would’ve been much lower, but by yesterday evening those had been more or less evened out by how assiduously unnecessarily New Zealand tossed away wickets. Nevertheless, sensible batting this morning should take them to safety.

And yet, and yet, and yet. England are perfectly capable of thrashing their way to almost any target they might be set, just as they are of collapsing under the weight of runs they need now, never mind in an hour or two – and that’s before we factor in brilliance of Trent Boult. I can’t wait and neither can you.

Play: 11am BST





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