Young, fun and farm­ing

Matamata Chronicle - - Opinion -

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.

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