England face daunting bid for Test glory

 
Ross McLean
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New Zealand’s BJ Watling scored an unbeaten century as New Zealand seized control
ENGLAND bowling coach Ottis Gibson has blamed his side’s substandard performance with the ball for New Zealand seizing control of the second Investec Test at Headingley yesterday.

The hosts face a daunting task to wrap up a 2-0 series victory after New Zealand finished day three on 338-6, as BJ Watling struck an unbeaten century and opener Martin Guptill pitched in with 70, while skipper Brendon McCullum notched 55.

Seamer Stuart Broad, who had scored just 23 runs in his last six Test innings, had earlier enjoyed a welcome return to batting form. His 46 helped England to 350 as the first-innings scores ended level for only the eighth time in Test history.

England will now have to complete their highest ever run-chase at Headingley to secure a second successive Test win, while only once has a larger fourth-innings total been overhauled there – Don Bradman’s invincible Australian tourists finished on 404-3 in 1948.

“We haven’t bowled very well in either innings to be honest,” said Gibson. “We have lacked control and we’ve been guilty of sometimes overdoing it.

“We have tried a little bit too hard to get wickets and haven’t always been patient enough. We’re going at four and a half, nearly five, an over and the one-day series hasn’t even started yet.

“For me, as the bowling coach, it is a little bit frustrating as we know we are a lot better than that. We have set plans for every batsman and we talk about where not to bowl to people and where to bowl to get them out.

“But the New Zealand batsmen have not allowed us to settle into those plans. The buzzword for me sitting and watching the game has been patience.

“We’ve put ourselves in a bit of a hole but there are still two days in the game where we can get something out of it.”

After England’s previous seven wickets had fallen for just 52 runs, their final two amassed 83 as the seamers’ union of Broad, Mark Wood and James Anderson joined forces to thwart New Zealand’s bid to establish a first-innings lead.

The Blacks Caps were then rocking at 23-2 following the cheap dismissals of Tom Latham and Kane Williamson by Broad, although a rapid partnership of 99 between Guptill and Ross Taylor saw the tourists retaliate. The duo rattled along at close to seven an over.

Taylor was the first of three second-innings victims for Wood, who also accounted for Guptill and McCullum, but not before the latter had added a potentially pivotal fifth-wicket stand of 121 with Watling.

Wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi was the final wicket to fall, to Anderson for 31, which exposed the New Zealand tail, although should the pattern of the match be followed then England’s victory target is likely to be swelled by the visiting lower order.

“Tail-enders have become a lot more competent with the bat than they used to be,” added Gibson. “There was a time when you got past seven and you thought that was it, just bowl full and straight and you’ll knock them over.

“The onset of T20 cricket means the guys down the order can whack the ball as well. Pitching it up is not always the best way to go. We have six wickets now but still have to be mindful that the tail-enders can hold a bat.”