The Timaru Herald
Floodgates open for Kiwis
The Black Caps were expecting a grind when they took the field shortly before tea on the third day of the second test against England.
But by the time stumps were drawn three hours later they had reduced the hosts to 122-9 and sat on the brink of completing a famous win, needing just one more wicket to dismiss them in their second innings, with England leading by just 37 runs entering the fourth day at in Birmingham.
Famous, because they’ve never previously won at Edgbaston, where the predominantly English crowd has been singing non-stop for three days, relishing the fact that they’re back, after Covid-19 kept them away in 2020.
Famous, because they’ve only won once in England in 11 previous attempts this century – and five times in 55 previous attempts.
Famous, because they’ve only previously won two series out of 17 there in 90 years of trying – in 1986 and in 1999, when Stephen Fleming’s men became the first – and to date only – New Zealanders to celebrate a test win at Lord’s.
And famous because they’ve got to the verge of it having made six changes to the XI who were stymied last week in the drawn first test at Lord’s in London. Three players were replaced due to injury – captain Kane Williamson, wicketkeeper BJ Watling and all-rounder Mitchell Santner – and three as the result of rotation, with an eye to the World Test Championship final against India – seamers Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson and all-rounder
Colin de Grandhomme.
In came Trent Boult, who missed the first test, and has so far taken five wickets; Matt Henry, who had played just 13 tests across five years, but had been 12th man a lot more, and has so far taken six; and left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel, who has taken four. Throw in the 82 runs scored by Will Young and the 34 scored by Tom Blundell, both new additions themselves, and New Zealand’s strength in depth is clearly evident.
Tireless seamer Neil Wagner was one of the five returnees and was responsible for the other four wickets to have fallen by the end of day three.
Go to stuff.co.nz for the latest on the second test.
When the Black Caps went from 293-3 to 388 all out, losing their last seven wickets for less than 100 runs, they were still the favourites to win, but not in as dominant a position as they would have liked.
Then up stepped Henry, who has had to wait his turn behind Southee, Boult, Wagner – and in the last 12 months, Jamieson – and hasn’t always taken the wickets he would have liked when given the opportunity to play.
But in the 20-minute period between the start of England’s innings and tea, he struck twice, removing Rory Burns with his second ball, then Dom Sibley, as the floodgates opened and the match and the series turned the way of the visitors, whose use of 17 players in two tests – one short of a record – should silence anyone who points to England’s list of absentees.
‘‘To come in and bowl the way he did and set up this test for us nicely is something that he has probably deserved for a number of years now,’’ Wagner said of Henry, who is likely to have to watch the World Test Championship final from the stands, despite notching his best match figures (6-114).
‘‘It’s real pleasing for him and I know the guys will get around him,’’ Wagner said.