England’s Harry Brook is run out without facing a ball.
Photo: Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz
New Zealand’s hopes of pulling off a most improbable test win remain alive in the second test against England the Basin Reserve in Wellington.
Only three times in the history of test cricket has a side won after being forced to follow on; at least two of those tests remain modern classics of the game.
The bare facts of the game hide its current drama in front of a crowd which has been let in for free by New Zealand Cricket.
England had by far the better of the first half of the match.
They declared their first innings closed at 435 for 8. New Zealand were dismissed for 209 and were immediately put in to bat again. By this time the pitch had flattened out; Kane Williamson 132 and Tom Blundell 90 helped New Zealand into a lead of 257 after NZ were all out for 483.
This morning, the game has turned into an astonishing tussle. Needing 258 to win on a quiet pitch, England reached 48 for 1 at the close of play last night.
Within hours this morning, four wickets as England slumped to 80-4, still a long way short of the New Zealand total. Harry Brook, the young English wonder batsman who has been scoring centuries at will, was run out without facing a ball.
But shortly after midday, Ben Stokes and Joe Root were leading a fightback at 134-5, with 124 runs still needed.
Joe Root has especially been in punishing mood, racing to a half century to go with his 153 not out in the first innings.
England have been on a roll in test cricket, playing a hard and fast brand of winning cricket under former New Zealand cricketer Brendon McCullum. If England win, it will be the first time they have won five overseas tests in a row since way back in 1913-14.
But if New Zealand win, they will have pulled off the remarkable feat of winning a test having followed on. In 1981, Ian Botham led England to an improbable victory over Australia in the Ashes at Headingley in 1981. Remarkably some in the Australian team had taken bets on England when the odds reach 500-1, so improbable did a win look at one stage.
India have also pulled off the feat, again beating Australia, in a match which signalled India’s relentless rise to the top echelons of world cricket.
India pair V.V.S Laxman and Rahul Dravid batted an entire day against the world’s best bowling attack to pull off the win at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens in 2001. It is a game still feted and celebrated among cricket buffs and Indian fans.