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England holds the advantage

England holds the advantage


Cricket: England holds the advantage

New Zealand's Kane Williamson looks up at England's Steven Finn (R) after he avoided being hit by a bouncer during the second day of the second test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Photo by Reuters
New Zealand's Kane Williamson looks up at England's Steven Finn (R) after he avoided being hit by a bouncer during the second day of the second test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Photo by Reuters
Two wickets in as many balls from Stuart Broad during the final session of play today has put England on top after two days of the second cricket test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.
The tall seamer sent Kiwi opener Hamish Rutherford and Ross Taylor back to the pavilion with consecutive deliveries late this afternoon as the visitors took hold of the match in the blink of an eye.
New Zealand were in the midst of making a steady start to their first innings following the early departure of Peter Fulton (1) before Broad worked his magic when the home side had only 48 runs on the board.
Rutherford (23) looked as though he wanted to pick up from where he left off following his debut hundred in the drawn first test in Dunedin last week as he started well.
He took a ball on the body early from Steve Finn but generally looked assured at the crease before he edged a delivery through to England captain Alastair Cook who made no mistake at first slip.
Former New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor then entered an overcast Basin Reserve to a rousing reception - as he has all summer - but only lasted a solitary delivery as he had his off stump disturbed by a rampant Broad.
That left New Zealand's innings in tatters and Cantabrian Dean Brownlie survived the hat-trick ball with a nice clip off his pads through mid-wicket for two runs.
With the light dimming New Zealand closed the day 10 minutes ahead of schedule on 66-3 with Brownlie at the crease on eight alongside the rock-solid Kane Williamson who was unbeaten on 32.
Williamson's last innings in New Zealand colours at the Basin brought about a fighting century against South Africa last summer and Black Caps coach Mike Hesson would love to see something of a similar ilk from the slightly-built Northern Districts No 3 tomorrow. (sat)
The Kiwis will have to produce an impressive batting display during the weekend to give themselves a chance of staying in the match.
Earlier in the day, England were eventually bowled out for 465 in their first innings just before the tea break.
England began the morning on 267-2 but lost century-maker Jonathan Trott for 121 as he was caught behind from the bowling of Trent Boult without adding to his overnight score.
From there wickets fell regularly but Kevin Pietersen (73) and Matt Prior (82) ensured England put on a more than respectable total.
Prior was particularly aggressive after lunch and scored his runs at a decent clip while Pietersen failed to completely assert himself at the crease.
Left-arm twirler Bruce Martin finished England's innings with 4-130 as the 32-year-old, who is playing in only his second test, wheeled down 48 overs during a marathon stint at the crease.
Martin was well assisted by paceman Neil Wagner who picked up 2-122 from 33 overs, while Trent Boult claimed 2-117 from 30 overs and Williamson chipped in with 2-16 with his part-time off-spinners.
Skills to go with surname

Skills to go with surname


Cricket: Skills to go with surname

Year 10 Otago Boys' High School pupil Declan Su'a took nine wickets for eight runs in an interschool game on Thursday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Year 10 Otago Boys' High School pupil Declan Su'a took nine wickets for eight runs in an interschool game on Thursday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
He has the surname and the skills to back it up.
But Otago Boys' High School pupil Declan Su'a is definitely no relation of his famous namesake, Murphy Su'a.
And, unlike the much-maligned former New Zealand left-armer, Declan has attracted attention for positive reasons.
The 14-year-old right-arm seamer took nine wickets for eight runs in an innings during an interschool game against Southland Boys' High School at Bishopscourt on Thursday.
To recap - that's nine wickets, eight runs. Who does that?
Earlier in the game, he swatted 74 runs to help set up his side win by an innings and 133 runs.
He got some of his scalps by coming around the wicket and targeting leg stump.
''I hit leg stump a few times by swinging it in and coming around the wicket and bowling at their feet,'' Declan said.
''There were a lot of high fives.''
Declan is hoping his form continues at the New Zealand Community Trust junior secondary school tournament in Palmerston North next week.
Otago Boys' is the defending champion and hopes to do well.
For the record, Murphy Su'a's test record is much better than you might think. He took 36 wickets in 13 tests, including two five-wicket bags.
Coach keen for Otago to finish well

Coach keen for Otago to finish well


Cricket: Coach keen for Otago to finish well

With just one win from six games, the team is now focused on performing well in its last two fixtures - the first of which is against Canterbury at the University Oval tomorrow.
''If Wellington don't do anything and we pick up maximum points from our last two games then we might creep in,'' Johnson said.
''Look, I think you have to be realistic, I don't think there is any chance, really.
''But we want to finish the season strongly. The Otago public need to see the team still has character and still got all those things which we displayed all season.
''We haven't been able to qualify for the playoffs but, if we look back, the sporting public and Otago cricket should be very proud of what this team has achieved. It would be nice to go out on a winning note rather than just drifting through the competition.''
While Otago has had a disappointing one-day campaign, the team burned up plenty of mental energy during its successful twenty/20 campaign and efforts to win the Plunket Shield.
The team has also had to make do without the likes of Hamish Rutherford, Neil Wagner and Ian Butler, who have been on national duty.
Despite those setbacks, Otago has still been able to field some strong sides but the performances have lacked the lustre of the earlier efforts in the summer, Johnson said.
''I don't think we've played particularly good cricket. We've seemed to bat well in one game and not so well in another. Then we'd bowled well and not so well in other games.
''Obviously, when you lose three or four players to the Black Caps ... it does test your resources a little bit.''
''There was a lot of pressure on, and the players did exert a lot of energy ... during a hectic and tiring [HRV Cup] campaign. We were also involved for all 10 rounds of the Plunket Shield, and to be up for 40 days of cricket made for a long campaign.''
The team has had 70 nights away from Dunedin and signs the team was starting to fade were there to see on the last day of the Plunket Shield, when Otago was dismissed for 145 chasing 200 for victory against Wellington.
Had Otago reached the target it may have been enough to add the Plunket Shield to its twenty/20 title.
Otago has made two changes from the team which lost to Northern Districts by 92 runs in Mt Maunganui on Wednesday. Ian Butler returns from international duty and Sam Blakely has been included. All-rounder Iain Robertson and spinner Mark Craig drop out of the 12.
With little but pride at stake, the time might be right to blood Blakely, a 19-year-old right-arm seamer from the North East Valley club.
It's the 13th year lucky for battling 'Bucko'

It's the 13th year lucky for battling 'Bucko'


Cricket: It's the 13th year lucky for battling 'Bucko'

New Zealand's Bruce Martin celebrates during the second day of the second test against England at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Photo by Reuters.
New Zealand's Bruce Martin celebrates during the second day of the second test against England at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Photo by Reuters.
Bruce Martin has waited 13 years for his chance to prove he can foot it on the biggest stage.
So when he induced a false shot from one of the game's batting giants at the Basin Reserve yesterday, you can imagine the inner yelp of delight mixed with a healthy dose of justification.
Kevin Pietersen had taken him on, looking to take charge. Martin's left arm spin nagged away. Occasionally Pietersen, or others, succeeded. But when Pietersen holed out to deep mid-off at 73, Martin had his man.
He finished with four for 130 off 48 overs but you sensed one wicket had him purring more than the others.
"He's a big player and it's nice to test yourself against a guy like that," Martin said last night.
"He's pretty ruthless the way he can get forward and get back. He's such a big fella I was finding it hard to get past him at times, he's such an imposing figure with the bat.
"I wanted to try and get in the fight a little bit and get in front of him and let him know I was there. I was happy to pick him up in the end."
Martin was 12th man against Australia in his first season with Northern Districts as a 19-year-old, then ... nothing.
Dan Vettori was already there and there weren't many occasions when a second spinner was deemed necessary. When it was, "Bucko" was down the list.
"Everything seems to be going well," he said of his first three test innings, which have produced nine wickets. "I've had 13 years to visualise playing test cricket. I've been playing this test cricket for a long time in my head, so it's nice to get out there and have a crack."
Vettori had sent him messages of encouragement. Their actions are similar. Both ND men, they went through academies together.
"It's just how I bowl," he said. "I just happen to look a bit like him, without the glasses."
You could say he has had time to prepare for this series and all it would entail in terms of the lift in intensity.
"I've played 115-odd games so I've played against some pretty good players over the years.
"It's just blocking out the noise of the crowd and all that other stuff you think about. It's just another game against players that are a little bit more patient and a little bit better than what you're used to."
Worth the 13-year wait and those feelings that maybe his time might never come?
Black Caps need to be smart, resourceful

Black Caps need to be smart, resourceful


Cricket: Black Caps need to be smart, resourceful

New Zealand's Ross Taylor reacts as he walks off the ground after being bowled by England's Stuart Broad for a duck during the second day of the second test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Photo by Reuters
New Zealand's Ross Taylor reacts as he walks off the ground after being bowled by England's Stuart Broad for a duck during the second day of the second test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Photo by Reuters
A character examination lies ahead for New Zealand's batsmen at the Basin Reserve today.
On what is shaping as the pivotal third day of the second test, England made a serious incision in the final hour yesterday in fading light to have New Zealand 66 for three, in reply to their solid first innings 465.
Losing opener Peter Fulton, pushing away at a short ball from Jimmy Anderson to be caught at first slip was one thing; having Hamish Rutherford and Ross Taylor depart in consecutive balls was quite another.
The follow-on mark is still 200 runs away. England's tails are up, the game is afoot and New Zealand will need to be smart and resourceful today.
Where New Zealand's seamers had struggled to trouble England's batsmen for large chunks of their innings, the extra pace and bounce of Steven Finn, the precision, aggression and smarts of Anderson and Stuart Broad was in marked contrast.
Rutherford got a working over, from Finn in particular, over his 94 minutes at the crease. He seemed to have got through the initial challenge, only to drive at a delivery from Broad to give Alastair Cook a second catch at first slip.
Taylor got a good ball, which straightened on him just enough to beat the stroke. It was Taylor's second golden duck in his 45th test and put the skids under New Zealand.
The light had become gloomy, Taylor's eyes perhaps hadn't adjusted. It was an important moment. The first test at Dunedin showed that there is more to New Zealand's batting than their No 1 batsman.
However when he misses out, questions still linger over how New Zealand will compensate. Today will help give an answer.
Dean Brownlie survived the hat-trick delivery, accompanied by four slips and two gullies, and much depends on how he and Kane Williamson, who was watchful and looked in decent touch over 108 minutes, get through this morning.
Earlier New Zealand's bowlers had more to enjoy than a day earlier.
They took England's last eight wickets for 198 although the circumstances were different, England looking to press on from the foundation of day one.
No one enjoyed it more than the left arm spinner Bruce Martin.
He enjoyed a decent duel with England's cavalier-in-chief Kevin Pietersen, who has a history of issues against left arm spinners.
Pietersen determined to dictate from the off, sending Martin's first ball of the day for six. However Martin stuck at it, had the tall righthander in a pickle once or twice and got his reward when Fulton pouched a catch at deep mid off.
The quick departure of Ian Bell and Joe Root in the space of four Martin overs briefly looked to have undermined the first day's work, however Matt Prior isn't rated the most proficient No 7 wicketkeeper-batsman for laughs.
His 82 off 99 balls - twice banging seamer Neil Wagner for six down the ground - was just the ticket for England. His standing ovation, both for the innings and the impetus it injected into England's situation was well justified.
Martin didn't get that kind of recognition from the crowd, but he's now taken nine wickets in his first three test innings.
He would have had a prized five wickets, but for Prior surviving an lbw decision on a referral.
The 32-year-old has his detractors, who wonder whether he has true test class about him. But Martin got some turn, plugged away determinedly through 48 overs, conceded less than three runs an over, and numbers do talk.
Martin's had a long wait, this being his 14th first-class season. He's fully entitled to savour the moment.
England firmly in control of test

England firmly in control of test


Cricket: England firmly in control of test

New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford reacts as he walks off the ground after being caught by England's Ian Bell for 15. REUTERS/David Gray
New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford reacts as he walks off the ground after being caught by England's Ian Bell for 15. REUTERS/David Gray
Peter Fulton and Kane Williamson guided New Zealand through to 77 for one in their second innings at the close of play on the third day of the second test at the Basin Reserve though England were firmly in control of the match.
Fulton was on 41 while Williamson was 16 not out as the hosts were still 134 runs from making England bat again and needing the rain predicted for late on Sunday to arrive earlier than expected to save the match.
While showers are predicted late on the fourth day, New Zealand's MetService has forecast persistent rain for the Wellington region throughout Monday.
England captain Alastair Cook had enforced the follow-on after bowling New Zealand out for 254 shortly before tea, with the hosts 12 runs short of the required target to put the tourists back in to bat and well adrift of England's 465.
Stuart Broad had rattled through New Zealand's lower order with figures of six for 51 and Bruce Martin was left stranded on 21 not out before Cook enforced the follow on at tea.
"It's not often enforced to be honest because the bowlers tend to like a bit of a rest and it's good to get their batsmen back out in the field and build a big lead with scoreboard pressure," Broad told reporters of the reasoning behind enforcing the follow on.
"With the weather around it's unsure how much cricket will be left in the next two days, that was the only reason behind it."
INTENSE PRESSURE
The hosts began their second innings under intense pressure from Broad and James Anderson but left-arm spinner Monty Panesar got the only breakthrough when Hamish Rutherford was brilliantly caught by a diving Ian Bell at leg slip for 15.
Fulton and Williamson, however, survived through to stumps to ensure the game went into a fourth day and gave local fans a slim hope of the team salvaging a weather-influenced draw, though New Zealand wicketkeeper BJ Watling said his side still felt they could pull out an improbable victory.
"Their bowlers have bowled quite a lot of overs now so the longer we keep them out there hopefully they get tired and start loosening up and giving us balls to put away and then we can put pressure back on them," Watling said.
"The wicket's a good track. I think we are obviously disappointed with our first innings effort. We needed 350 at least on that so if we can rectify ourselves in the second innings and put them under a bit of pressure (by scoring) 350-400, a lead of 200 on this track could be defendable."
New Zealand had looked like they could avoid the follow on at lunch with Brendon McCullum in an obstreperous mood, having reached his 27th test half century shortly before the break.
The New Zealand captain quickly advanced to 69 before Steven Finn got some extra bounce, caught the outside edge of the bat and Jonathan Trott took a simple catch at second slip.
McCullum's dismissal, immediately after he and Watling had brought up their 100-run partnership, left New Zealand on 189 for six.
A reckless shot from Tim Southee, who inexplicably fell into the trap set for him by hooking a short Finn delivery directly to Broad at fine leg for three, left the hosts on 197-7 and teetering on the brink of total collapse.
Watling upped his scoring rate after Southee's dismissal and brought up his fourth test half century with a punch in front of point off Finn for two runs.
He was supported by Martin in a 42-run partnership before the second new ball ended their resistance when Watling (60) feathered a catch to Matt Prior off Broad.
Neil Wagner became Broad's fifth victim when he fell in exactly the same manner for a 13-ball duck, then the tall fast bowler snared Trent Boult for two to finish with his third-best career figures.
Wellington test officially a washout

Wellington test officially a washout


Cricket: Wellington test officially a washout

England supporters shelter from the wind and rain. REUTERS/David Gray
England supporters shelter from the wind and rain. REUTERS/David Gray
All eyes now turn to Eden Park and the deciding third test between England and New Zealand after the second match was washed out at the Basin Reserve today.
Overnight and morning rain ruined prospects of England pushing on for victory, after the first test in Dunedin was drawn.
New Zealand were 162 for two in their second innings at the end of the match, still trailing England by 49 runs overall.
The final test starts in Auckland on Friday and has become, as England's bowling coach David Saker put it yesterday, effectively a cup final.
When the series began, England, ranked No 2 in the test game, were expected to be too strong across all departments for No 8-ranked New Zealand.
However the hosts had much the better of the opening test in the ANZ international series; by contrast England were the dominant team in Wellington.
The last test in Auckland between the teams, in March 2002, and also a final test of the rubber, produced a series-levelling 76-run win for New Zealand.
 Side squeaks in as Jakeway keeps cool

Side squeaks in as Jakeway keeps cool


Cricket: Side squeaks in as Jakeway keeps cool


John McKenzie rounds up Dunedin cricket games played during the weekend.
University-Grange 185/9 beat Carisbrook-Dunedin 183 by one wicket
University-Grange and Carisbrook-Dunedin had an epic battle in the penultimate round of the Dunedin senior competition on Saturday.
University-Grange had plenty of overs in hand as it chased down a target of 184, but eventually it scraped home with just a wicket to spare.
Earlier, Sean Eathorne hit a gallant 50 to steer Carisbrook-Dunedin to a competent total, which at times looked like it would be enough.
Cam Rutherford (three for 50) and Michael Haddleton (four for 61) were the pick of the bowlers for University-Grange, collecting some key wickets.
In response, Grange batted with perseverance, but lost wickets at regular intervals to set up a tight finish.
Steve Jakeway (41 not out) top scored but with some low scores by his counterparts, the side was 12 runs shy of victory when its ninth wicket fell. Jakeway kept his cool, scoring all of his side's last 13 runs to get it home.
Green Island 133/5 beat Albion 131 by five wickets
Green Island, which wrapped up the Bing Harris Trophy two weeks ago, continued its dominance by beating Albion.
The Albion batsmen struggled to contain the vaunted Green Island bowling attack, losing key wickets in quick succession, to be all out for 133 inside 37 overs.
Mark Craig (47) top scored for Albion, with modest contributions from Sam Ward (21) and Greg Knowles (20).
Green Island started slowly in reply, and at 39 for three, the match was arguably in the balance.
Good bowling by Knowles (four for 38) restricted the Green Island line-up, but with Scott Simpson (48) and Henry Blackwell (32) contributing, the side reached the total inside 25 overs to put an early finish to the match.
Taieri 222/9 beat North East Valley 135 by 87 runs
Taieri's strong form continued as the side scored the most runs by any team on Saturday with 222.
Ash Simpson (79) and Corey Hart (56) put on a 105-run partnership for the second wicket to set the base for the total.
North East Valley bowler Simon Murley had his best performance of the season with the ball, collecting six wickets for 67 runs from 22 overs.
However, the other bowlers struggled to contain the Taieri batsmen, leaving Murley's team with a daunting chase.
North East Valley started well, scoring 41 runs before losing its first wicket, but with young Taieri bowler Jack Hunter performing strongly (four for 48), Valley stumbled to lose quick wickets and be all out for 135 inside 33 overs.
Blakely takes two on debut

Blakely takes two on debut


Cricket: Blakely takes two on debut


Otago bowler Sam Blakely is all smiles after taking a wicket during his debut against Canterbury at the University Oval yesterday. Team-mate Ian Butler celebrates in the background. Photo by Peter McIntosh
Otago bowler Sam Blakely is all smiles after taking a wicket during his debut against Canterbury at the University Oval yesterday. Team-mate Ian Butler celebrates in the background. Photo by Peter McIntosh
Sam Blakely completed a special day for his family when he made his debut for Otago in a one-day game against Canterbury yesterday.
He is the third member of his immediate family to play cricket for the province. And before the Ford Trophy match was abandoned due to poor weather, the North East Valley right-arm seamer picked up two wickets.
His father, Geoff Blakely, was watching from the sidelines at the University Oval. Thirty-three years earlier, Geoff made his first-class debut for Otago, and Sam's sister, 17-year-old Caitlin, made her debut for the Otago Sparks this summer.
Otago cricket historian Dave Richmond was uncertain whether it was the first time a father-son-daughter combination had represented the province but thought it was ''possibly unique''.
A couple of seasons ago, all three Blakelys played in a club game for Gimmerburn - surely that is a first. Either way, it is a mighty feat.
''My parents said they would not miss my debut,'' Sam said.
''They were pretty proud. They have put a lot of time into me and been there through everything, really.''
With Geoff being an opening batsman, it seemed plausible Sam developed as a bowler heaving down deliveries to his father in the back yard. But he actually started out as a batsman.
''It wasn't until I got a bit taller at about 12 or 13 that I started bowling a bit more. I slowly got chucked down the batting order and up the bowling order.''
The strapping 19-year-old is also a handy rugby player. A No8, he played ''a couple'' of senior club games for Kaikorai and is not planning on giving the winter code away yet. Cricket is his first love and his ''best-case scenario'' is to pick up an Otago cricket contract next summer.
''Eventually the choice is made for you because the seasons overlap so much that you can't juggle two at once. You have to go one way or the other.''
Blakely has been part of the wider training group this season and when he got the news he would make his debut, he got very excited.
''I couldn't wait. It is a dream come true. I spent most of my childhood watching half these boys like Redders [Aaron Redmond] and Nath [Nathan McCullum] play.''
His first over did not go exactly to plan. Fringe Black Cap Rob Nicol gave the youngster a brutal welcome, smashing one of the biggest sixes struck at the venue. The ball came to a rest on the 22m of the rugby field behind the media centre.
''You try not to worry but it is always pretty disheartening to watch the ball sail back over your head and the media box for six. You just try and clear your head and get back to your mark and try and get him out with the next ball.''
The bowler had his revenge, though. Nicol hit a drive, only for Michael Bracewell to pluck the ball out of the air at a short cover position. More good news awaited Blakely when Tom Latham got a nick and the keeper took a nice tumbling catch.
When the players were forced from the field, Blakely had two for 57 from 9.5 overs.
Ian Butler got the initial breakthrough when he trapped Brad Cachopa for two. Having slumped to 35 for three, and then 84 for four, the visitors rallied through George Worker (73 not out) and Shanan Stewart (38 not out) to be 159 for four after 39.5 overs.
Both sides pick up two points, but Otago needed the four points for the win to keep its slim playoff prospects alive. Its final one-dayer is against Auckland at the University Oval on Wednesday.
England hit out at lifeless Test pitches

England hit out at lifeless Test pitches


Cricket: England hit out at lifeless Test pitches


Frustrated England have taken a swipe at the docile pitches used for the first two Tests in New Zealand.
A draw looms in the the second Test at Wellington going into the final day on Monday, which would match the result of the series opener in Dunedin.
Just 35 overs were possible on the fourth day due to rain as New Zealand reached 2-162.
They trail by 49 runs after following on, with Kane Williamson (55) and Ross Taylor (41) having shared an unbroken third-wicket stand of 81.
The likelihood of more rain, allied with the dead nature of the wicket means England will struggle to capitalise on their dominance, leaving the series locked at 0-0 going into a decider at Auckland's Eden Park starting on Friday.
The lifeless Basin Reserve track drew the ire of England bowling coach David Saker, who said it mirrored Dunedin's University Oval for its lack of assistance to the bowlers.
"For the spectacle of Test cricket, this isn't the greatest way," he said.
"Anyone watching the game wants to see the ball bounce through and sometimes it's a bit frustrating for the spectators."
"You have to mainly prepare for batsman error - and you have to be really patient with where you bowl and hope to build enough pressure so that he does make that mistake."
Saker said the Twenty20 and one-day international series between the teams last month were played on pitches with ample carry.
He wasn't sure if New Zealand Cricket had ordered the pitches be slowed down for the Tests or if it was the nature of the wicket blocks.
Either way, he believed the respective merits of world No.2 ranked Test nation England and No.8 New Zealand had been levelled out.
"This makes it really hard for both batsmen to score and bowlers to prise their wickets out."
Three of the last four Tests at University Oval have been drawn while the Basin Reserve is poised to host a third straight stalemate.
There has been a result in the last six Tests at Eden Park, the most recent of which was seven years ago.
Basin test washed out

Basin test washed out


Cricket: Basin test washed out

England's Joe Root and team mate Nick Compton look out of their dressing room at the rain during the fourth day of the second test. REUTERS/David Gray
England's Joe Root and team mate Nick Compton look out of their dressing room at the rain during the fourth day of the second test. REUTERS/David Gray
All eyes now turn to Eden Park and the deciding third test between England and New Zealand after the second match was washed out at the Basin Reserve today.
Overnight and morning rain ruined prospects of England pushing on for victory, after the first test in Dunedin was drawn.
New Zealand were 162 for two in their second innings at the end of the match, still trailing England by 49 runs overall.
The final test starts in Auckland on Friday and has become, as England's bowling coach David Saker put it yesterday, effectively a cup final.
When the series began, England, ranked No 2 in the test game, were expected to be too strong across all departments for No 8-ranked New Zealand.
However the hosts had much the better of the opening test in the ANZ international series; by contrast England were the dominant team in Wellington.
The last test in Auckland between the teams, in March 2002, and also a final test of the rubber, produced a series-levelling 76-run win for New Zealand.
The third test begins on Friday.
Hayden Meikle talks cricket with Craig Cumming

Hayden Meikle talks cricket with Craig Cumming


Podcast: Hayden Meikle talks cricket with Craig Cumming


ODT sports editor Hayden Meikle talks to former New Zealand opener Craig Cumming who tells him the Black Caps can win the third test and why Hamish Rutherford will be around for a long time.

Bracewell set for test return

Bracewell set for test return


Cricket: Bracewell set for test return

Fast bowler Doug Bracewell will be added to the Black Caps squad for the third ANZ test starting in Auckland on Friday if he gets through tomorrow's Ford Trophy match unscathed.
The 22-year-old missed the first two tests after he cut his right foot on some glass while cleaning up after a party at his Napier home on the eve of the opening test.
His recovery will be tested during the Central Stags clash with the Canterbury Wizards in Christchurch tomorrow before he is confirmed in the squad for the deciding test at Eden Park.
Bracewell and the two squad members who haven't played in the test series so far - Ian Butler and Tom Latham - will all feature in Ford Trophy cricket tomorrow before they join the squad in Auckland.
Black Caps head coach Mike Hesson says it's pleasing to have Bracewell available for selection after the unfortunate injury that saw him miss the first two tests.
"Doug's availability creates a real battle for spots for this deciding ANZ test against England.
It also helps to manage the workload for a group of bowlers who have carried a heavy load during the first two tests."
"We'll be keenly watching how he performs in the Ford Trophy tomorrow and how his foot comes through the game."
Black Caps squad for third test:
Brendon McCullum (c), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, (pending getting through Ford Trophy match tomorrow), Dean Brownlie, Ian Butler, Peter Fulton, Tom Latham, Bruce Martin, Hamish Rutherford, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson.
NZ hope it's third time lucky in decider

NZ hope it's third time lucky in decider


Cricket: NZ hope it's third time lucky in decider

The tourists won the Twenty20 and one-day international series last month by a 2-1 margin.
On both occasions the respective series were tied at 1-1 but England stepped up a level to dominate the third match.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum says a different dynamic in the Test series - locked at 0-0 after rain-affected draws in Dunedin in Wellington - left him optimistic there would be no repeat of the short form outcomes.
"We didn't stand up, didn't perform that well and I thought England were excellent in both those deciding games," McCullum said.
"We were a little bit off which was disappointing when you've got a series on the line.
"There's a few nuances within our team setup which have changed things. And five-day cricket is different from a one-off day as well."
McCullum said a Test series win over world No.2-ranked England would be a personal career highlight.
The fact the series has been evenly-fought indicates New Zealand have made good strides since their Test hammerings in South Africa two months ago, he said.
"I think we're learning a lot about ourselves and where we actually are at in terms of our game.
"But we know that the third Test will be what we'll be decided on."
McCullum indicated he will send England in to bat for a third straight time if successful with the toss.
However, he needs to first inspect an Eden Park pitch which is likely to be the quickest of the series.
England skipper Alastair Cook says his team will take a patient approach when pushing for the series win which was widely anticipated two weeks ago.
"If you start chasing the game from the first day then you can come unstuck," Cook said.
"You need to earn the right to get yourself into position to win the game."
"If you get five days of good weather in a test match it's normally good enough to get a result."
 Win or lose today, it's been a cracking good season

Win or lose today, it's been a cracking good season


Cricket: Win or lose today, it's been a cracking good season

Otago cricket batsman Neil Broom raises his bat as he scores 100 runs against Wellington at the University Oval earlier in the year.Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Otago cricket batsman Neil Broom raises his bat as he scores 100 runs against Wellington at the University Oval earlier in the year.Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Otago is determined to complete the summer on a high with a win against Auckland in a one-day game at the University Oval today.
Win or lose, though, the team will be able to reflect on a magic season - perhaps its best since 1987-88, when Otago won both the one-day and first-class competitions.
The highlight, of course, was winning 10 consecutive twenty/20 matches to win the HRV Cup.
There was also a 12-game winning streak in the Plunket Shield, probably an Otago record, according to local statistician Dave Richmond. The Volts were in with a great chance of winning the shield and completing a rare double. Gunning for their 13th win in a row, they came unstuck on the last day against Wellington at the Basin Reserve. Chasing 200 for victory, they were bowled out for 145. It was a disappointing end but the only real blot on a tidy copybook.
The team had used up most of its energy reserves and struggled in the one-day tournament. With just one win from six completed matches, it has not been the finale the team was hoping for.
But, in a wider context, it is almost an acceptable failure, perhaps even predictable, given how much the team put into earlier campaigns.
Otago has perhaps relied on a few class players to pull through in the past and this team certainly had those types of players. But this season, everybody seemed to find a way to contribute.
There were some great stories. Opener Aaron Redmond rediscovered his touch in a big way.
He was the leading scorer in the Plunket Shield with 941 runs at an average of 55.35. Contrast that with the 157 runs at 14.27 he scored last summer and you begin to understand just how much he turned his performances around.
His first-class haul is the second-highest season tally for an Otago batsman. Otago great Glenn Turner holds the record with 1027 runs in 1975-76.
Fellow opener Hamish Rutherford supplied another feel-good story. In February last year, he was working in a coffee shop waiting for another opportunity to play first-class cricket for the province. Earlier this month, he scored 171 on test debut.
Black Caps fans everywhere are hoping he is a long-term answer to long-term problem at the top of the order.
Left-arm spinner Nick Beard was outstanding in the twenty/20 tournament and was the joint leading wicket-taker with young Otago fast bowler Jacob Duffy. The pair combined to take 30 wickets.
Beard also demonstrated his skills with the bat when he scored 188 after going in as a night watchman for Otago in a first-class game against Auckland.
Michael Bracewell (190) and Neil Broom (134) shared in an Otago record partnership for all wickets against Wellington of 291 runs. That stand formed the backbone of an Otago record total of 651.
Ian Butler, who at one stage had given up on the idea of playing test cricket again because of a serious back injury, was recalled to the test squad. And Neil Wagner, who had a tough introduction to test cricket, put in solid performances in the first two tests against England.
Dutch international Ryan ten Doeschate was outstanding for Otago in the HRV Cup. He was the second-leading scorer in the competition with 401 runs at an average of 50.12. He also scored a century for Otago in his only first-class game for the province.
Fellow import James Fuller also made an impact with 13 twenty/20 wickets and he starred in a massive innings and 240-run win against Wellington, with 10 wickets in the match.

Vettori makes low-key return

Vettori makes low-key return


Cricket: Vettori makes low-key return

Dan Vettori. Photo by Getty
Dan Vettori. Photo by Getty
Daniel Vettori made a low-key return to competitive cricket today when he took the field for Northern Districts as they were soundly beaten by Wellington at the Basin Reserve, in the final round of the domestic one-day competition.
Vettori, who hasn't played for New Zealand since the Twenty20 World Cup in September last year due to injury, took 1-67 from 10 overs and scored only five runs with the bat as ND slumped to a 106-run loss.
It was hoped that Vettori would be fit for New Zealand to meet England in their ongoing tour to these shores, but now the return leg in the Northern Hemisphere in May and June seems more realistic.
Vettori's sole wicket today was that of James Franklin, who top-scored for the home side with 114 from 103 balls, as Wellington made an imposing 280-7 from their 50 overs.
That total proved too much for ND who barely fired a shot as they were bowled out for 174 as veteran paceman Mark Gillespie nabbed career-best figures of 6-38 for Wellington, while wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi pouched three catches.
The victory for Wellington put them in to third place on the ladder and they will host ND in one of the Ford Trophy's minor preliminary finals on Sunday.
At the University Oval in Dunedin, top qualifiers Auckland were given a staunch reminder of how tough the competition can be when they were beaten by the fifth-placed Otago by six wickets.
Auckland won the toss and batted first in Dunedin, but never established a major partnership as they regularly lost wickets during their innings.
Craig Cachopa top-scored with 51 for the visitors, while Anaru Kitchen and Donovan Grobbelaar each made 38 as they were eventually bowled out for 221.
Otago made light work of the chase as they breezed home in the 46th over with six wickets in hand on the back of an unbeaten 66 from Nathan McCullum and strong support from Michael Bracewell who made 63.
Auckland skipper Gareth Hopkins used eight bowlers to try to find a way through Otago's batting line-up but they failed to fire; Bhupinder Singh was the best of them with 2-49 from 10 overs.
Auckland will give up home advantage for their minor preliminary final on Sunday due to a venue clash with the Black Caps test against England at Eden Park during the weekend, and will play against Canterbury in Hamilton.
Canterbury beat Central Districts by 156 runs at Hagley Park in Christchurch today, which saw them qualify for the finals in second spot.
The Cantabrians made light work of a disappointing CD side, who finished the competition with the wooden spoon, despite having won the Plunket Shield this summer.
Canterbury lost the toss and were put in to bat. That mattered little as they posted a highly-competitive 291-5, with Tom Latham top-scoring with 77 and Henry Nicholls making his third half century of the competition as he added 54.
In reply, only skipper Jamie How mounted any true resistance for CD as he stroked 83. Kruger van Wyk (11) was the only other Stag to make double figures as Alan Hunt's men were rolled for 135.
Otago ends season the right way

Otago ends season the right way


Cricket: Otago ends season the right way


Otago batsman Neil Broom lines up the ball as Auckland fieldsman Anaru Kitchen charges in to try to save some runs during the Ford Trophy one-day match at the University Oval yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Otago batsman Neil Broom lines up the ball as Auckland fieldsman Anaru Kitchen charges in to try to save some runs during the Ford Trophy one-day match at the University Oval yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Otago had very little to gain from its comprehensive six-wicket win against Auckland at the University Oval yesterday.
The Volts won just one of their first seven games and were out of the reckoning for the playoffs.
Regardless, the team was determined to finish as it started. It has been a terrific season for Otago, the high point of which was winning the twenty/20 tournament. The Volts also finished a strong second in the Plunket Shield and were in the hunt until the very last day of the competition.
While a loss to Auckland would not have changed any of that, it would have been annoying if that was the last memory, Otago coach Vaughn Johnson said.
''It was really, really important for us to finish well,'' he said, not just for the individuals in the team but for the Otago public.
''We've appreciated their support all year and I thought it was tremendous that we were able to get across the line against a good side.''
Auckland has been the form team in the tournament but was totally outplayed by Otago. The University Oval has become a fortress for the Volts. The team went undefeated at the ground this season, which is a source of pride for the unit.
But there was also a hint of regret for Johnson that it made a poor start to the one-day tournament, because it showed with the win against Auckland how dangerous it could have been had it squeaked through to the playoffs.
''There has been a lot of talk about why we weren't able to be as consistent as we would have liked in this competition. But today I thought we bowled well after a slow start and I thought we were quite clinical with the run chase. It is a very nice way to finish.''
Jimmy Neesham had the honour of hitting the winning runs. It was a rather inglorious thick edge down to third man for a brace.
The all-rounder bowled superbly, though, taking four for 34 from 10 overs.
Ian Butler grabbed three for 36 and Nick Beard enhanced his growing reputation with one for 26 from nine overs.
They combined to dismiss Auckland for a modest 221. Anaru Kitchen hit down the ground well for a hard-hit 38 from 32 deliveries and Craig Cachopa whacked 51 from 50.
But Auckland went too hard, too soon. The visitors reached 100 runs from 99 balls and seemed on track for 300-plus. But the top order was the architect of its own demise with some poor shot selection and even worse execution.
Auckland slumped to six for 150 and, with a long tail which included Chris Martin and Bhupinder Singh, it became apparent it might not bat out its 50 overs.
Donovan Grobbelaar played a steadying hand, adding 38 from 62, and Kyle Mills chipped in with 23 from 46.
However, Auckland ended up with the sort of total sides have struggled to defend for the last two decades.
Otago made light work of the chase. Sam Wells could not get going but both Aaron Redmond (35) and Neil Broom (43) got the scoreboard rolling, and a fine 124-run partnership between Michael Bracewell (63) and Nathan McCullum (68 not out) sealed the victory.
 England miss KP for series decider

England miss KP for series decider


Cricket: England miss KP for series decider


Kevin Pietersen. Photo by Reuters
Kevin Pietersen. Photo by Reuters
England have decided Kevin Pietersen can no longer play through the pain, but his early departure is no reflection on the tourists' opinion of their opponents.
Pietersen will fly home tonight after being ruled out of cricket to six to eight weeks with a knee injury that has plagued him since his side's warm-up match in Queenstown earlier in the tour.
The mercurial batsman, who scored 85 runs from three innings after sustaining the injury, will be replaced by Jonny Bairstow for the ANZ series decider, starting at Eden Park tomorrow.
With the injury allowing Pietersen to play the first two tests, questions were raised about whether he would have held on for another five days of cricket if the magnitude of the match justified such an effort.
England will want Pietersen fit for a heavy programme later in the year, including two series against Australia, but captain Alastair Cook said the 32-year-old would have still been on the sidelines tomorrow even if the Ashes were being decided.
"We felt he could get through [the first] two games, but this game might have been a step too far," Cook said. "It's important now we don't jump to too many conclusions. He'll go home, see the specialist and see what's wrong with him.
"It's clearly a very important game. To win any series against any nation away from home is a great achievement. So we've got five days of very tough cricket and we want to finish the winter as well as we can. Clearly you want your best players available."
Pietersen's commitment to the English cause has previously come into question, most recently when he was dropped during last year's tour of his native South Africa after allegedly sending members of the home side text messages in which he was critical of the England set-up.
But Cook defended Pietersen and insisted he had already proven himself during the draws in Dunedin and Wellington.
"With the injury, he hasn't been 100 per cent fit totally. But he's put his body on the line trying to play for England, and that's all you want from all your players.
"I think he's played through a bit of pain for those first two games. He hasn't been 100 per cent fit. But there's got to be a time when you try to manage the situation as well as you can."
Part of that management could see Pietersen back in the lineup when the Black Caps visit England in May. In the meantime, Jonny Bairstow will slot in at No 6 tomorrow while Ian Bell and Joe Root will be shifted one place up the order.
Bairstow last played in the Twenty20 series in February and the last of his five tests came in Mumbai in November, but Cook was backing the 23-year-old to make the most of his opportunity.
"Obviously it's a blow when you lose one of your senior batters and a guy that's performed consistently well for us over a number of years," Cook said. "But it gives an opportunity to Jonny Bairstow coming in. He's probably been a little bit unlucky not to be selected earlier, so he's got a great opportunity to try to end this winter well.
"In an ideal situation, you'd want a little bit more match practice behind you. But sometimes you can't choose that. I know he's just very excited about being given the opportunity."

OBHS wins again

OBHS wins again


Cricket: OBHS wins again

The side had a convincing 62-run win in the final against Hamilton Boys' High School in the final yesterday afternoon to repeat its win of last year.
The tournament's first two days were washed out on Monday and Tuesday so the format was converted to twenty/20 matches for the last two days.
Otago Boys' won its two games on Wednesday and continued on its winning way yesterday morning against Hutt International Boys School.
Hutt scored 58 when it batted first, with Kane Johnston, Jack Pryde and Taine Bayly picking up two wickets each. Otago Boys' was four wickets down when it reached the small target in the 17th over.
In the final, Otago Boys' batted first and made 136 for seven wickets. Bayly led the way with a fine unbeaten 74, hitting 38 of those runs in boundaries. Cameron McAuslen chipped in with 24.
In reply, Hamilton Boys' was 74 for eight wickets at the end of its overs. Pryde took three cheap wickets while Johnston bagged a couple.
The side was made up of year 10 pupils with two year 9 pupils also chiming in.

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