Young, fun and farming
Iwas fortunate to be at Eden Park on Friday to witness a very good day in New Zealand’s test cricket history. There was a great atmosphere, with the Barmy Army in full voice and probably making up most of the crowd, but there were plenty of Kiwi fans who came to support their team now that they were competing.
Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford opened the innings after Brendon McCullum had lost the toss and England elected to bowl first.
The two openers set about their work positively and looked very comfortable, scoring relatively freely.
Somewhat uncharacteristically, just before lunch, Rutherford slashed at a wide ball and was well caught at first slip.
The rest of the day belonged to the Black Caps, who batted steadily.
The highlight was Peter Fulton’s maiden test century.
Fulton had been in brilliant touch throughout the summer with Canterbury.
New Zealand finished the day on 250/1 – one of our best performances for many years.
The Black Caps were confident of making a total of more than 500, which would have put them in control of the match.
However, England was a different side on day two, and after claiming Williamson for 91, took regular wickets until dismissing New Zealand for 443.
Williamson definitely had his eye in and was looking at his fourth test century, however, it was not to be and I am sure he would have been as gutted as the rest of New Zealand’s fans.
When England came out to bat, New Zealand managed to claim two early key wickets, those of Cook and Trott before stumps were pulled for the second day.
On day three, New Zealand claimed three reasonably quick wickets before Matt Prior and Joe Root steadied the ship with a partnership of 138.
Eventually Prior was out, (caught Rutherford, bowled Wagner), and Trent Boult returned to clean up the tail and finish with his best figures of 6/68.
McCullum did not enforce the follow-on, and New Zealand started their second innings disastrously with Rutherford, Williamson and Taylor all out for single figures, and reeling at 8/3.
Fulton and Brownlie survived until stumps, setting up an intriguing day four and five.
If the Black Caps can score 150, putting their lead out to 394, our bowlers should be able to do the business and hand New Zealand a great series win over the world’s number two test side.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs managed to grind out a tough encounter against the Highlanders on Friday night at Waikato Stadium.
This game was very important for the Highlanders, as they had not won any games so far and it was sink or swim time for their title hopes.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, coming off a good win against the Kings in South Africa, are sitting pretty at the top, with three key players returning from injury to bolster the squad.
The game was very tight with both teams never getting away on the scoreboard.
The Highlanders used some very strange tactics, running the ball from all over the field and putting themselves under pressure by conceding penalties in their own half, giving Anscombe ample kicking practice.
The young fullback scored four penalties and a conversion of Tim Nanai-Williams’ try.
The Chiefs ran out winners by 19-7, keeping themselves in the top three of the competition.
The only negative was the injury to Kerr-Barlow that will keep him out for about six weeks, but the timely return of Brendon Leonard will ease the blow.
Next week the Chiefs have a blockbuster against Sir John Kirwan’s Blues at Baypark in Mt Maunganui.
We should see a game with a lot of running and expansive play.