Herald on Sunday
Young with an old head
Will-o'-the-wisp he’s not but this test of patience pays off
For a sport that can be unconscionably cruel, cricket also sometimes finds a way of meting out moral justice to its protagonists.
Few are more deserving of turning patience into success than Will Young.
He made 82 on the second day of the second test at Edgbaston, his highest score in the format and the highest by a New Zealander in five tests at the venue, dating back to 1958.
The 28-year-old right-hander eked out his innings across 204 balls and 306 minutes to ensure the Black Caps were poised to pounce at 229 for three in reply to the hosts 303.
A bat-pad catch in the final over gifted twirling off-spinner Dan Lawrence his maiden test wicket.
Until last summer, Young had largely been a victim of circumstance, playing in the age of New Zealand’s greatest three-four test combination in Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor.
The Central Districts prote´ge´ had even been on the verge of a test debut in England as far back as 2015 when he played for the Bristol club in Gloucestershire. He was called into the New Zealand squad and placed on stand-by for the second test against England at Headingley when injured keeper BJ Watling eventually played as a specialist batsman.
Young created his own destiny this northern hemisphere summer.
He signed a contract with Durham and scored two centuries opening in the bowler-friendly month of May at Chester-le-Street in England’s north. One was in the third innings of the match against Worcestershire, but the other came in an opening stand of 208 after Warwickshire had been dismissed for 87.
At Edgbaston, Young came to the wicket at 15 for one in the sixth over with the ball moving and the England bowlers menacing. However, the university geology major proved a rock for the tourists.
He found an ideal partner in Devon Conway, not just because of the Wellingtonian’s form and mental control, but because he had faced similar circumstances trying to prise his way into the test line-up until last week’s double century on debut at Lord’s. They have much in common in their pathway to international level.
The pair put on 122 for the second wicket, pressing New Zealand into a dominant position. That included 87 runs in the middle session. After Conway’s exit for 80, Young also benefited from the presence of Stags teammate Taylor, despite an initial 31-ball period of sustained pressure from Stuart Broad and James Anderson. Young eventually enabled them to seize back the momentum when he eased an overpitched Anderson delivery through the covers.
Fluency of placement provided the spine to Young’s innings.
● New Zealand led England by just 23 runs at lunch on day three of the test. Replying to England’s 303 all out, the Black Caps went to the break at 326 for five with Daryl Mitchell having made three off 14 balls and Tom Blundell also not out on 24 off 41.
Earlier, Taylor played himself back into form with an innings of 80 in a match featuring five scores in the 80s with no batsman making it past 82 in Birmingham.