64th over: England 158-3 (Sibley 59, Pope 12) Wagner continues: if this had been a timeless Test, he’d have been fine with that. Pope plays a cover drive for four, which is more elegant than all the strokes Sibley has played, put together.
“Afraid you’ve got this wrong Tim,” says Andrew Bennett. “1. Imagine the stick and pressure Root would get from fans and media if we lost this after the poor winter we’ve just had.” Not from me – unless he got the big decisions wrong.
“2. The majority of this batting line-up just needs more time in the Test middle before the more important fixtures ahead.” That’s insulting to the New Zealanders, and to the game.
“3. The fact there is a crowd has got absolutely nothing to do with how England should be playing. The fans choose to turn up to watch the players, the players aren’t there to entertain the fans.” What??? Of course they are.
“How about some support for England instead? Didn’t think the Guardian OBO would turn into a Michael Vaughan echo!” I haven’t read Vaughan for a while, so don’t know quite what you mean by that, but our job is not to support England. It’s to report the game as we see it. But I do wish you and I were in agreement. Thanks for writing, anyway.
63rd over: England 150-3 (Sibley 56, Pope 7) Southee is still on, for reasons I can’t fathom. At one point in this over he pulls up in the crease, as if his body is telling us what his mind is too good-mannered to say.
“The only reason to continue watching this dire display,” says Tim FG on Twitter, “is the hope that I’ll get to see the Sky box give Joe Root a seriously hard time afterwards for this dreadfully unsporting, take-the-piss-out-of-the-fans approach to avoiding a loss. Genuinely embarrassing.”
62nd over: England 149-3 (Sibley 56, Pope 6) Sibley nurdles for two.
“Hi again Tim,” says Toby Miller. “This is a poignant scorecard: Boycott and Cowdrey, neither slow nor pusillanimous.”
61st over: England 147-3 (Sibley 54, Pope 6) Just a single off Southee’s over. I’ve been on the OBO at 4 in the morning, but I’ve never felt as sleepy as this.
“Evening again Tim,” says David Reynolds, coming off his full run. “In response to Tom Adam [56th over], I have not the slightest interest in white-ball cricket, and I have great appreciation for patient Test-match batting. But, firstly, not a single ‘cross-bat swipe’ is necessary, let alone any ‘flurries’, to at least TRY to score 273 off 75 overs. Test-match batting is not slow batting, it is being able to adapt to the situation and change pace accordingly, in both directions. Secondly, there is nothing remotely traditional about attempting to avoid losing over winning – quite the contrary. Nobody is suggesting slogging – that was not necessary.
“England could played very cautiously until tea, as they did, and then just have played busily after that, looking for runs. If they had then lost a few wickets, they could have shut up shop. No problem. Their strategy was not reasonable, it was not sporting, it was not balanced, and it was in no way traditional Test-match cricket. We were given a chance to play for a result by a captain who did not have to do it; we declined. I’ll continue clutching my pearls.”
60th over: England 145-3 (Sibley 53, Pope 6) A few singles off Wagner, whose stock has risen today – he’s been busting a gut, not insulting the crowd. And that’s drinks, when it could be the close – which must mean that NZ fancy some more bowling practice. England need 127 off 15 overs, but mainly they need to show some interest, as they did for a while towards the end of Root’s innings.
“If it was 320 off 65, yes, I’d totally agree,” says Toby Sims, “buy Sibley a pint and drop anchor, but it wasn’t. I know England’s batting experience is at the low end, but I’d much rather see them just believing in the talent (it is there!), as 3.7 or whatever it was an over is a fair contest. If you’re set 500 and fighting for a draw, fair play, but NZ gave a damn good declaration – a ‘come on then if you think you’re hard enough’, and I think England should have taken it on. Australia aren’t as kind and it’s good experience…” Yes – the Aussies look like being the only winners here.
59th over: England 143-3 (Sibley 51, Pope 5) A single to each batsman off Southee. The end is nigh.
“Watching today’s cricket,” says Jon Collins, “do you think England would be a better side if they’d made Eoin Morgan Test captain in 2017 instead of Joe Root? Too late now, obviously, but his captaincy – and the extra runs from Root – might have made it worth it?” Yes, they might well have done. And Morgan, with his Test average of 30, would not have been out of place in this team.
58th over: England 141-3 (Sibley 50, Pope 4) Wagner to Sibley, and it’s a maiden. For Sibley, you couldn’t call this a return to form, but it is a return to runs, following a sequence of 16, 16, 3, 0, 7, 2, 3 and 0. Those innings were more entertaining.
57th over: England 141-3 (Sibley 50, Pope 4) Southee returns and Sibley finally reaches his fifty, in true Sibley style – with an inside edge into the on-side. He has faced 161 balls, hit three fours, and lost a few thousand fans. Pope then shows him how it’s done with a fluent clip for four.
56th over: England 136-3 (Sibley 49, Pope 0) Root and Sibley had just collided – literally, in mid-pitch, as Root clipped for what should have been three. They ended up with two and Root managed a rueful smile, which was soon wiped away by the indefatigable Wagner. Ollie Pope comes in and starts with a play-and-miss.
Another counter-view. “Honestly, the amount of knicker-wetting-pearl-clutching-fit-of-the-vapours outrage on here that England should dare to prioritise ‘not losing’ over ‘trying to snatch an unlikely victory’!” splutters Tom Adam. “‘Moral duty to chase’ forsooth! ‘Won’t someone think of the kiddies who came to watch’ indeed!” (Said no one, ever.) “What a load of absolute tosh. I can only assume that these are white-ball fans who’ve never watched Test cricket, have no idea of the fragility of England’s middle order, think targets are simply there to be knocked off in a flurry of cross-bat swipes and have no appreciation of the subtle joys of the slow grind to safety and the gradual crushing of the opposition’s hopes.”
Wicket!! Root LBW b Wagner 40 (England 136-3)
Yes, just pitching in line, and definitely hitting leg. Root departs, cursing loudly. Was he trying to win after all?
Review! Root given LBW
It’s Wagner, it’s full and it’s plumb. unless he’s hit it.
55th over: England 133-2 (Sibley 49, Root 38) Santner is fit to bowl again, allegedly. Root greets his first ball with a big stride and a crisp sweep for four, and then does it again, well in front of square. And again, for a single this time, as there’s now a man in the deep. England have scored 53 off the past ten overs, which makes it all the more bizarre that they crawled along before that.
“For the second time in two years,” says David Reynolds, “we are being schooled in sportsmanship by New Zealand at the home of cricket. Williamson was prepared to risk losing the match in order to win it, as any proper cricket captain at any level ought to be prepared to do. Root apparently lacks this most basic sporting and cricketing spirit. He ought to be ashamed.”
54th over: England 124-2 (Sibley 49, Root 29) Wagner comes back and concedes two no-balls, but no runs off the bat. The chase appears to be off again.
We could do with a counter-opinion and here is one. “You’ll win nowt by slogging,” says Mike Shepherd. Are you sure? “In defence of England’s batting here, they’re just not very good batsmen (OK not a resounding riposte). They struggled to score 275 on a pitch with two days’ less wear in it, and no one on either side has been able to consistently score at the asking rate. If they’re trying to build this collection of callow, skittish-intent merchants into a batting line-up capable of winning away Tests, there will be some hard, dull days along the way. I appreciate it’s not great to watch, but I find it a lot less frustrating than (yet) another series of nick-offs and a press conference about taking the positives.
“Also, I know it was a flippant point, but I think it’s a bit tasteless to compare Root’s captaincy (which I’m no fan of), to Robinson’s past bigotry.” Ah, I didn’t mean to suggest any resemblance between them, except that both deserve a ban, for different reasons. Also, I suspect we’ll still get the line about taking the positives.
53rd over: England 122-2 (Sibley 49, Root 29) Williamson continues with his so-called off-breaks, and both batsmen take some easy singles. England need 151 off 22 overs. Where’s Eoin Morgan when you need him?
In the meantime, here’s Michael Keane. “Following my earlier contribution (12:09pm) about being turned away from Lord’s as I had turned up more 24 hours later than my ticket (which I’d misread) suggested, I am now feeling a calm sense of relief. As a plan B, I considered going to the pub with a cricket-sceptical friend to educate him about the supreme joys of the five-day game, but he was busy. Thank heavens.”
52nd over: England 118-2 (Sibley 47, Root 27) Santner carries on, sore finger and all, and Root helps himself to a cut for two, a sweep for two more, a better sweep for four, and a shovel for a single. He has rattled up 12 off his last six balls, having managed 15 off 54 before that. I don’t know what’s going off out there.
51st over: England 109-2 (Sibley 47, Root 18) Williamson brings himself on, perhaps in an effort to revive the match by giving away some cheap runs. Root edges a sweep for two, and brings up the fifty partnership – it’s now 53 from 123 balls. A worse fifty partnership you will seldom see.
“This is unsportsmanlike behaviour,” says Alisdair Gould, “and should be punishable as such! The problem is the individual fear of consequences. Silverwood and Root should have made it clear – this innings no one will be found guilty, it will not count against you, it can count as an individual plus and a team plus though on the positive side. There is no question they morally had a duty to chase. Don’t waste my life, Sibley, any more.”
50th over: England 103-2 (Sibley 44, Root 15) Santner bowls a maiden, even though he seems to have a split finger. And England go back to square one.
49th over: England 103-2 (Sibley 44, Root 15) Sibley takes another single into the leg side off Jamieson, and Root plays a very Rootish glide for four to bring up the hundred. He even plays a pull, but only for a single. There’s still time, lads – if not to win, then at least to give it a go.
“Embarrassing,” says Tim Robinson. “Both England’s game plan and Robinson’s teenage kicks, which are bad but should he be banned from playing cricket when someone else who made racist and sexist comments as an overpaid journalist has not been banned from running a country?” It’s a fair point.
48th over: England 97-2 (Sibley 43, Root 10) Sibley, facing Santner, plays another nurdle for another two. Santner then bowls a rank wide outside off which is mysteriously given as two byes. Sibley, unperturbed, nurdles for a single. Five off the over: that’s close to what they need. Are they tempted? Say it is so, Joe.
“In answer to you and Dean Kinsella,” says Guy Hornsby, “this is all pretty unedifying. I understand why they’d want to not risk losing but this has been stultifying stuff, with no one really trying to look positive. Mere grim, soporific survival makes a mockery of Root’s claim.”
47th over: England 92-2 (Sibley 40, Root 10) Root takes the hint, glancing a yorker from Jamieson for four. And then he picks up a couple with a glide, to race into double figures. In theory, there are 28 overs left, and England need 181. They’re not suddenly going for it, are they?
“I’m seriously worried,” says Peter Metcalfe, “that people might actually prefer watching The Hundred to watching this. Maybe it’s a cunning marketing ploy.”
46th over: England 86-2 (Sibley 40, Root 4) Sibley is thinking about being fully awake. He has a mow at Santner and gets four, along the ground, to long-on – ungainly but effective. And then he tucks for two. He has 20 off the last ten overs; Root has one. One!!
“Have England got it right?” asks Toby Sims. “Absolutely not. I’m willing the Black Caps to smash them (as an England supporter) after a very sporting declaration and the chance of a good contest. Yes their attack is good, but I’ve seen zero application to a chase. Stokes and Buttler must be nauseous.”
“England’s approach has been an admission of inadequacy,” says Tony Bennett. “They’re telling us they think Sibley, Crawley, Pope, Lawrence and Bracey are not up to it.”
45th over: England 80-2 (Sibley 34, Root 4) Sibley has half woken up, now that it’s too late: he glances de Grandhomme for a two and a single. That’s drinks, with England, I’m afraid, in disgrace. If Ollie Robinson gets a ban for his ancient tweets (and he should, alas), Joe Root should get one for this. It’s a crime against cricket.
44th over: England 77-2 (Sibley 31, Root 4) More excitement: three leg-byes, as Root tries to sweep Santner. In a perfect world, leg-byes would never have been invented – they’re a reward for missing the ball.
On Twitter, Andy Zaltzman from TMS makes the same point as everyone else, with added stats. “This is a miserably timorous performance by England,” he says. “67-2 off 40 – their second lowest score after 40 overs in the last 20 years.” In the 1960s, the captain would have been sacked for it. Brian Close was.
43rd over: England 73-2 (Sibley 30, Root 4) Sibley goes crazy and takes a pair of twos off de Grandhomme – one nurdled to leg, the other mirroring it off a thick outside edge. The football is starting over on the other channel, and England’s captain is Marcus Rashford, so a dull day has a sporting highlight after all.
42nd over: England 69-2 (Sibley 26, Root 4) It’s a double change and on comes Mitchell Santner, who was picked for this match but not, as yet, backed by his captain. He’s had fewer overs than the man he’s now bowling to, Joe Root, even though the ball is turning. He gets one to fly off a length and concedes two byes as Root manages to keep his gloves out of the way.
“I’m sorry,” says Dean Kinsella, “but England have not even given a nod towards an attempt to chase these runs down. For the first time in my 63 years I’m supporting the team playing against England.” Which makes me wonder: is there anyone reading this who reckons England have got it right?
41st over: England 67-2 (Sibley 26, Root 4) Colin de Grandhomme replaces Southee, which rather suggests that Kane Williamson has lost the will to win. The main excitement in this over is that BJ Watling sends for a helmet and comes up to the stumps, to stop Sibley standing outside his crease. And the consequence is … a maiden. The partnership is 11 off 63 balls.
40th over: England 67-2 (Sibley 26, Root 4) Sibley goes on the attack! Driving Wagner down the ground for three, as if the past two hours had been a bad dream. Can we have a bit more of that, please?
Jim on Twitter is back for more. “210 off 38 remaining overs is a perfectly respectable John Player League target,” he reckons. “Could still go for this, with Sibley set on 22. Oh. Sibley.”
39th over: England 64-2 (Sibley 23, Root 4) Southee to Sibley, and as the ball goes harmlessly past the bat the commentators are reduced to saying “what a good take”. When Sibley nurdles the last ball for a single, he gets some cheers, laced with sarcasm.
“It seems peculiarly tactless,” says David Pearl, “to select the anniversary of D-Day to shut up shop, bore the spectators, insult the listeners, and scratch around for four hours when set an eminently achievable target.”
38th over: England 63-2 (Sibley 22, Root 4) Sibley has middled one! He goes back and punches to mid-off’s right to pick up another single. The partnership is now a princely 7 off 7.3 overs. We already knew that Root’s words about winning all seven Tests were less than wise (because you have to take each game as it comes, especially when you’ve just lost three in a row). Now he’s making us wonder if they were also less than honest.
37th over: England 62-2 (Sibley 21, Root 4) A single to each batsman off Southee, both off inswingers, both off the inside edge. Sam Billings runs on with some gloves and a message – the rest of the batsmen threatening to resign, I presume.
36th over: England 60-2 (Sibley 20, Root 3) A maiden from Wagner to Sibley. Gavaskar, infamously, made 36 off 60 overs; England have now managed the opposite, in very much the same spirit.
“Killing time without injuring eternity,” says the subject line from David Gaskell. “Five an over is not impossible,” he then insists. “Ben the Flayer would get them single-handed whilst eating a Lords prawn cocktail with his free hand. On the bright side it does get one in the mood for England against Romania.” You can follow that game here if you’re fed up with this one.
35th over: England 60-2 (Sibley 20, Root 3) Southee’s turn to screech for an LBW, as Root takes a near-yorker on the base of the shin. The ump gives a run, when Nasser Hussain rightly points out that there was no nick, but it was going down anyway.
“Seems like only a few days ago,” says Peter Salmon, “that England said they would try and win all seven Tests this summer.” Superb.
34th over: England 58-2 (Sibley 19, Root 2) Wagner thinks he’s got Sibley LBW with some swing back in, but the umpire reckons it’s too high, a view borne out by the fact that it thudded into Sibley’s box. I feel his pain, just as I’m hoping that he will feel mine, watching him bore for England.
33rd over: England 58-2 (Sibley 19, Root 2) Root gets off the mark first ball after tea, with a neat dab past third slip. That was more purposeful. The sun comes out, tentatively, like a shy kid who’s heard someone laughing in the next room.
It’s going to be Tim Southee, the man most likely to move the game along.
“Hey Jim on Twitter,” says Adam Roberts. “I’ll see your Brearley and Boycott and raise you a Gavaskar 1975 (36 years ago tomorrow).” Yes, stupendous stuff – though I make it 46.
32nd over: England 56-2 (Sibley 19, Root 0) Wagner runs back to his mark to try and squeeze in another over, but to no avail. And that’s tea, with the draw the hot favourite. The crowd will have more fun in the queue for a cuppa than they’ve had watching this session. In a perfect world, they would start singing “Are you a general anaesthetic in disguise?”
“Give this another couple of hours,” says Geoffrey Smith, “and you’ll all be grateful for Sibley’s 54 not out at stumps.” Speak for yourself!
“In addition to the sides’ aims (29th over),” says John Starbuck, “individual players are hoping to make their mark to survive the next week. Anyone from England whose name ends in a Y is at risk and getting desperate.” Ha.
31st over: England 56-2 (Sibley 19, Root 0) Now we have a contest: not just NZ v the draw, but Southeev Root. His opening ganbit is an inswinger, full length, which almost gets through Root’s defences as he shuffles across. That’s a wicket maiden and, for once, the dots don’t feel like a drag.
Wicket!! Crawley c Nicholls b Southee 2 (England 56-2)
Cometh the hour, cometh the Tim. Southee returns and instantly removes Crawley, playing the same loose drive that Sibley got away with a few minutes ago. Nicholls at gully takes the catch in front of his nose, and the New Zealanders have a sniff.
30th over: England 56-1 (Sibley 19, Crawley 2) Crawley gets a single off a leading edge, thanks to a misfield. Crap cricket all round! Please will someone take this game by the scruff of the neck.
“Hell’s teeth,” says Jim on Twitter, “this is worse than watching Brearley and Boycott ‘chase’ the West Indies in the 1979 World Cup final. Smaller target, more overs, worse strike rate. Sitting at Lord’s almost hoping they’ll shake hands at 5.30 and put us all out of our misery.”
29th over: England 55-1 (Sibley 19, Crawley 1) Crawley shows his class for the first time with a flowing off drive, but a diving half-stop restricts him to a single.
“I do declare,” says David Mel, promisingly, “that a series of unfortunate negatives – a day’s play lost to precipitation, dismal over rates, Burns being bashed on the head, precipitating two concussion breaks, poor England batting performance – have all conspired to showcase Test match appeal. From the embers (not Ashes) of despair and disappointment rises an enchanting and intriguing Red Ball cricket spectacle. Not harnessing Test Championship points gives Williamson a reason to chase for victory.” At the time of the declaration I’d have agreed with you, but the conspiracy is now between both sides, settling for a stalemate.
28th over: England 54-1 (Sibley 19, Crawley 0) We have a boundary! The first for an hour and a half, and it’s off the edge as Sibley chases a wide one from Wagner. If there’d been a third slip, it would have been a sitter. Wagner is trying to win this match, but I’m not sure that Williamson is.
Michael Holding, meanwhile, has taken out his moral compass, applied it to the government’s Covid tests for people flying in, as he did the other day, and established that they are a scam. “Someone’s making a lot of money.”
27th over: England 50-1 (Sibley 15, Crawley 0) Sibley shovels Jamieson off his hip to bring up England’s fifty, which is greeted with ironic cheers – quite reasonably. Somewhere in Durham, Ben Stokes must be tearing his hair out.
26th over: England 49-1 (Sibley 14, Crawley 0) Wagner draws an inside edge from Crawley, which brings some oohs and aahs but no clink of timber.
“Tim,” says Andrew Benton, “this is a battle pitting don’t-mess this-one-up-for-once England against batting-collapse-as-usual England. New Zealand are just a side order. Would be good if Bracey could get a reasonable score, he’s been rather in the shadows on his first England adventure.” Would be good if he could get a bat. I’m with you on the analysis of England’s mental state, but don’t we need to get away from taking New Zealand lightly? They’re a top team.
25th over: England 49-1 (Sibley 14, Crawley 0) Santner is taken off and Kyle Jamieson comes back. Williamson evidently wasn’t watching England in the winter when Crawley struggled to get going against slow left-armers – he likes the ball coming onto him. That’s a maiden from Jamieson: you can probably guess who was facing.
24th over: England 49-1 (Sibley 14, Crawley 0) Wagner, not for the first time, makes something happen. And in comes Crawley, on a pair, like about 36 per cent of England’s batsmen.
“Gotta say that I agree with John Price (16th over),” says James Evans. “This was not a risky declaration from NZ. England’s lineup is inexperienced and under pressure, and the required run rate was higher than all three prior innings in the match. I think people are being swayed by Williamson-love. Had England been in this position, the narrative would be ‘could’ve declared half an hour earlier if we hadn’t scored so slowly yesterday’. (Not that I think NZ batted too slowly – England bowled very well and they couldn’t risk losing quick wickets.)”
Wicket! Burns c Southee b Wagner 25 (England 49-1)
Wagner beats Burns outside off, then bowls the same ball, six inches to the left, and reaps his reward as Southee takes a crisp low catch at second slip. That’s good for New Zealand, and probably for England too. Burns goes off with a sore hand and 157 runs in the match. He had ten different partners and only looked in form when batting with the weakest of them, Jimmy Anderson.
23rd over: England 49-0 (Burns 25, Sibley 14) Sibley takes a run! Off Santner, with the tuck to square leg, which is Sibley’s signature stroke. Burns then gets in a tangle or two, and would be gone if Williamson had had a backward short leg. At this rate, if Zak Crawley ever comes in, he may well be greeted with a standing ovation.
22nd over: England 47-0 (Burns 24, Sibley 13) Southee takes a rare break as Neil Wagner comes on. He’s a man of two modes: one nasty, brutish and short, the other full and swinging. He goes full to Burns and finds that swing, but it’s from the hand so not hard to handle. That’s a maiden, so another bit of life drains from this contest.
“I’ll see your exciting declaration,” says Adm Roberts, “and I’ll … well, I’ll ignore it actually.”