England’s Last Chance to Save Face in Second Test in Christchurch7 min read
Christchurch. Start UK time: 11.00pm Thursday 28th March
England have one last chance to salvage something from an otherwise dismal winter of Test cricket as they move to Christchurch for the second and final Test of this two match series.
The first Test exposed all of England’s weaknesses again – being bowled out for 58 surely must be as low as they can go though? But batting collapses and no one making a big score have been a feature of this England team for a long time. Combine that with not being able to bowl sides out for less than 400 and it’s not much of a recipe for success.
For New Zealand, they simply need to do more of the same. They were impressive in every aspect although will be looking for one of the batsmen who’ve been light on runs in the last few months to step up to ease the reliance on Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. Henry Nicholls looked organised and efficient in his impressive innings. The three man pace attack of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner will thoroughly test England again and New Zealand
There have only been four Tests played at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch so it’s hard to get a sense of what a par score might be but New Zealand are comfortable there – they’ve won three of the four matches to take place at that venue and it’s hard to look past another win for New Zealand unless the weather gets the better of the match.
If you’re looking at the overs and unders for runs, England to be bowled out for under 250 is probably a fairly safe one.
Weather, pitch and conditions
The weather forecast for Christchurch looks pretty wet for the next few days and there’ll be some juice in the pitch and some overcast conditions which should see some swing. Even though there’s rain around, England’s inability to bat for long periods means the draw is unlikely unless there’s a constant deluge.
It’s likely New Zealand will make just one change to their winning team with spinner Ish Sodhi coming in for the injured Todd Astle. It’s a return to the red Kookaburra ball for this match which doesn’t swing as much or for as long as the pink one – Boult and Southee are so skilful and such a good partnership they’ll make it talk. It’s hard to look past either of them to be New Zealand’s top wicket taker. In Auckland in the first innings, New Zealand didn’t even need to call on Neil Wagner but with his ability to deploy a destructive short ball something a number of the England batsmen are vulnerable to – he might be worth a look to be New Zealand’s highest wicket taker across the match.
In the batting department, they still have an element of fragility but for a high value bet it’s working looking at Henry Nicholls to be top scorer again, he is in at and looks both in good touch and a honest battler.
England are highly likely to make some changes to their team for this final Test. Although as ever, it’s the batsmen who fail and the changes are made to the bowling line up but in truth, Moeen Ali looks likely to lose his place – he’s had a bad winter with the red ball and they might as well take this opportunity to see how Jack Leach steps up to international cricket. And whilst Woakes and Overton are both very good cricketers, they are very similar. England can only really play one or the other, not both. Mark Wood is on the tour and fully fit. This is a perfect opportunity to play him to add something different to the attack – and if they don’t, it’s a bit hard to understand why he’s even on the tour. Alternatively England could look to bring in an extra batsman – Liam Livingstone or James Vince – although with Stokes still not fully fit to bowl that could place a lot of extra pressure on Anderson and Broad.
Jimmy Anderson will pleased to get a red ball back into his hand and should prosper in overcast conditions – he’s to be England’s leading wicket taker.
In terms of the batting, Ben Stokes was striking the ball very nicely before his brain fade shot to get out in the second innings. He’s to be England’s top-scorer. Worth looking at Johnny Bairstow at too. He’ll have plenty of time at the crease if England’s top-order form repeats itself.
Trevor Bayliss says he’s at a loss to understand England’s continuing batting woes – they have one last chance to turn things round before they all disappear off to the IPL or back to their counties before starting the English Test summer in May.
Trent Boult to be top New Zealand bowler
Tim Southee to be top New Zealand bowler
Hnery Nicholls to be top New Zealand bowler
Jimmy Anderson to be top England wicket taker
Ben Stokes to be top England batsman
Johnny Bairstow to be top England batsman