From bad, to worse. New Zealand's scoreboard suggested otherwise, but today's Headingley horrors narrowly topped their Lord's lashing on the batting hall of shame.
Not content with being dismissed for 68 a week previous, New Zealand's specialist batsmen lurched backwards in an even more inept display against England in the second cricket test.
At stumps on day three, England were 116-1 in their second innings to lead by 296. In a remarkable show of charity, captain Alastair Cook didn't enforce the follow-on which was reduced to a deficit of 150 after the day one washout. Instead Cook opted for batting practice and cruised to 88 not out as New Zealand's injury woes continued, with Trent Boult departing with a side strain after delivering two overs.
New Zealand's total of 174 in 43.4 overs doesn't appear so dire. But it was bookended by two half-century partnerships for the first and 10th wickets.
In between, the collapse mirrored their second innings at Lord's. At the hands of different destroyers, paceman Steven Finn (3-36) and spinner Graeme Swann (4-42) New Zealand slumped from 55 without loss to 82 for six.
On current form only the weather, which is forecast to turn nasty on day five, can save New Zealand from 2-0 but even that is clutching at straws.
What made today's batting so hard to stomach was New Zealand's flying start, the friendlier pitch and overhead conditions, less pressure, and easier bowling. And they'd had several days to learn their lessons, train hard and analyse what went wrong. But some habits are hard to break, and no one does an embarrassing collapse like this New Zealand side, who have lost eight of their past nine overseas tests.
It all started so well for the tourists as the Leeds sun shone, they showed positive intent and the ball didn't swing for their Lord's destroyers James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford both needed runs. At 55-0 in sight of lunch it seemed there'd been a breakthrough. Fulton on-drove beautifully, Rutherford thrashed Anderson through the covers in the shot of the match.
But each were culpable in starting the rot. Fulton tried one too many leg side pick-up shots and spooned a leading edge. His 28 was the top score.
Then Rutherford was set up by Finn in the last over before lunch. He drove ambitiously and edged to gully, criminally leaving Ross Taylor to face one brutal Finn bouncer before the break.
New Zealand then lost their next seven wickets for 50 in a middle session of madness.
Finn removed Taylor with one that bounced steeply. Then Swann began pitching into the left-armers' footmarks and the middle order wasn't up to it.
Kane Williamson looked the technically best equipped to cope with England's bowlers. He appeared to have covered a turner from Swann but England successfully reviewed umpire Marais Erasmus' not out lbw decision.
Dean Brownlie and Martin Guptill aren't noted players of spin, and that assessment might now be kind. Each received good deliveries from Swann but basic batsmanship failed them as the respective gaps between bat and pad allowed enough space for a white Leeds taxi.
England's use of technology was superior to New Zealand's too. Brendon McCullum blundered and lost both their reviews on day two; Cook nailed both theirs to overturn the Williamson and Tim Southee decisions. Southee looked to have squeezed out a Broad delivery, umpire Steve Davis said not out to the lbw shout but a review showed pad marginally before bat. There was some doubt, and Southee and McCullum weren't happy, but it summed up their day.
McCullum was again hampered by his sore back as he stretched and strained. It hadn't unduly affected his wicketkeeping as he bagged five catches, but New Zealand needed their skipper 100 percent fit. He was nicked out for 20 as his batting struggles continued.
New Zealand's final pair Boult and Neil Wagner got them close to the follow-on target by blazing 52 off 28 balls. Boult blasted Swann for three sixes but it was far too late.
Remarkably, New Zealand won the first session on a day where 14 wickets tumbled. Boult was a different bowler with the second new ball and took all five of his wickets with it, ending with 5-57 and his second-best figures in test cricket. England were skittled inside five overs, for 354 which appeared below par given they'd won the toss.
SCOREBOARD (stumps day three):
A Cook c Brownlie b Bracewell 34
N Compton c Brownlie b Southee 1
J Trott c McCullum b Wagner 28
I Bell c McCullum b Williamson 30
J Root c McCullum b Boult 104
J Bairstow c McCullum b Boult 64
M Prior c Taylor b Southee 39
S Broad c McCullum b Boult 0
G Swann not out 26
S Finn b Boult 6
J Anderson c & b Boult 0
Extras (9b, 7lb, 1nb, 5w) 22
Total (99 overs) 354
Fall: 1/11, 2/67, 3/67, 4/146, 5/270, 6/279, 7/286, 8/345, 9/354, 10/354.
Bowling: T Boult 22-4-57-5, T Southee 26-6-76-2, N Wagner 23-4-73-1, D Bracewell 19-3-83-1, K Williamson 9-0-49-1.
Cook not out 88
Compton c Rutherford b Williamson 7
Trott not out 11
Extras (8b, 1lb, 1w) 10
Total (1wkt, 41 overs) 116
Bowling: Boult 2-1-2-0, Southee 9-3-30-0, Wagner 9-2-31-0, Williamson 15-4-32-1, Bracewell 6-3-12-0.
P Fulton c & b Finn 28
H Rutherford c Bell b Finn 27
K Williamson lbw b Swann 13
R Taylor b Finn 6
D Brownlie b Swann 2
M Guptill b Swann 1
B McCullum c Prior b Broad 20
T Southee lbw b Broad 19
D Bracewell c Bell b Swann 1
N Wagner b Anderson 27
T Boult not out 24
Extras (5lb, 1w) 6
Total (43.4 overs) 174
Fall: 1/55, 2/62, 3/72, 4/79, 5/81, 6/82, 7/119, 8/122, 9/122, 10/174.
Bowling: J Anderson 7.4-2-34-1, S Broad 15-2-57-2, S Finn 12-3-36-3, G Swann 9-1-42-4
- © Fairfax NZ News
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