OPINION: Stuart Broad must have felt "sick" as he sat with his pads on waiting to bat and knowing that the task ahead was well beyond him.
One bad decision in asking New Zealand to bat first had played a big part in England finding itself in an impossible situation.
Of course it wasn't the first time that this has happened and it won't be the last, regardless of what the experts predict at the start of each televised game.
I well remember asking Otago to bat at Carisbrook when winning the toss for Central Districts and, with great anticipation, big Ali Jordan raced in and hurled the first ball down at batting maestro Glenn Turner.
Turner was up on his toes, and not exactly in line, only for the ball to nearly sneak under his bat. From then on it was all downhill as Turner went on to score one of his many centuries. Misreading the wicket and the conditions will continue.
With the New Zealand batting line- up making a huge improvement alongside a not so classy English bowling and fielding display, England were under pressure when it was their turn at the crease and, as this game continues to demonstrate, once the pressure builds decision- making is less confident and a lot less accurate for the losers and a lot more positive for the winners. Funny that.
This is normally a game that allows for one or two individuals to take the game away from the opposition but, in this case, the Black Caps had Martin Guptill, Hamish Rutherford, Brendon McCullum, Mitchell McClenaghan and James Franklin all playing a part.
McClenaghan, in particular, must be added to the test squad. His uncompromising approach and determination to succeed stands out. He is what New Zealand cricket is all about.
These are the types of individuals the very costly New Zealand selection panel need to cement into positions and stick with over the long term - players with mongrel and spirit who are never beaten, as we endeavour to restore our reputation on the world stage.
Ian Butler, a player on the second time around, also looked as if he possessed the mental determination and toughness. It will be interesting to see how he progresses in the next match tomorrow night, as he must surely be lining up the test allrounder spot in direct competition with Franklin.
Rutherford also seems to have grown another leg this season, showing excellent form in both the Twenty20 internationals and for Otago in the Plunket Shield. With a solid pedigree behind him and McCullum wanting to bat down the order, he looks a logical choice at the top of the Black Caps batting order.
While talking about tough, uncompromising characters, surely Nathan McCullum comes into that category. Now an experienced player and a battler to the end, he must warrant a spinners spot ahead of any other like bowler in the country.
Brendon McCullum, with a belly full of confidence following his great knock, showed he has the tactical shrewdness and player management to be by far the best leader since Stephen Fleming was dumped.
In fact, he did a good job when on the receiving end of the hiding in the first Twenty20 and now has the opportunity to move on from making himself look foolish in the original presidential debate with Ross Taylor. I'm sure many lessons have been learned.
With the likes of BJ Watling and Dean Brownlie earning their stripes in South Africa, it will be interesting to see who makes the test squad, particularly as Brendon McCullum is moving down the order.
Just so long as the main criteria is based around being a fighter to the very end, the support base will have plenty to look forward to and enjoy, just as we did with the second Twenty20.
? Ian Snook is a former Taranaki and Central Districts captain. He is one of only four men to have played more than 100 games for Taranaki.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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