Friday, May 31, 2013

Day five at Headingley and tour review

As you know, rain failed to deny England on the final day.
England take the series with a 2-0 whitewash, and New Zealand will be wondering where it all went so wrong after scrapping so valiantly in the three Test home series in March.
Credit must go to Alistair Cook and his team, particularly the bowling of Anderson and Broad at Lord’s and Finn and Swann at Headingley. They played to the conditions on both occasions and dominated our batsmen. For the upcoming Ashes series, England, however, may have found their own batting to be as problematic as New Zealand’s outside of Cook, Trott, Root and Bairstow.
It’s hard to hide the disappointment as a New Zealand cricketer or cricket fan after making some real strides since South Africa.
Unlike the South African tour, we fronted up to England with our strongest current team minus Daniel Vettori.
But that’s international cricket. Fortunes change like the weather.

A mystery for me these past post-Test days has been the name, Hiddleston. He’s in the 1937 poem I posted during the Headingley Test.
I hadn’t come across the name before but it’s John Hiddleston. He was a popular and solid bat for Wellington at first class level and once scored a double hundred. He was a North Island and New Zealand rep batsman (before official Test status) after the First World War and during the 1920s.

When I started writing this diary, I told friends I would stop at the end of the first class tour fixtures.
I also mentioned at the outset the fine team of ’49ers led by Walter Hadlee. After their humiliation in the 1946 Basin Test v Australia, Hadlee, Merv Wallace and Co. set about building a team and were determined to put New Zealand cricket back on the map during the 1949 England tour. They succeeded.
For these very reasons, I can’t write off Brendon McCullum and Mike Hesson just yet, nor do I wish to suggest whole scale personnel changes. The team of 2013 has some fine talent still to work with and develop further. We may begin to see this during the ODI series and the Champions Trophy and over the next few years.
Ken Rutherford, another mentioned in the course of this brief tour diary along with Brian Close (who did appear at Headingly with John R Reid), said in his 1995 autobiography that he similarly believed in nurturing all the talent that’s there by showing selection faith in players. Stephen Fleming took a while to get going in the Test arena but was among our most talented batsmen since Martin Crowe’s retirement.
After the 1992 World Cup success, cricket suffered a slump until the late 1990s. There was a rise for a while with Fleming as captain of a good crop of players: Chris Cairns, Dion Nash, Daniel Vettori, Roger Twose, Shane Bond, Nathan Astle, Adam Parore, Craig McMillan, Mark Richardson, Chris Harris etc. England will never forget Astle’s sensational ‘master blaster’ innings of 222. Who’d have predicted Astle’s emergence in the centenary season of 1994?
Rutherford confidently stated during a period of cricket’s declining popularity in 1995 that : ‘…within a decade I believe New Zealand will be among the top four or five nations in the cricket world.’ New Zealand cricket rose again. It may happen too with McCullum’s team. Ken’s son Hamish may well be among our future stars.
The upcoming ODI series, Champions Trophy and Twenty 20 games don’t interest me so much as Test cricket but I will watch them.
This, however, will be my last post on the current England tour.

Perhaps it is fitting to end with an ode to Brendon’s team in review:


To McCullum’s Thirteen*

Thirteen players from New Zealand
Flew off to tour Old England.
Their fortunes have suffered,
But let’s not leave them coffered.

Yes, in review, let me inscribe
Their names with Ferns of the past.
I’ll be this team’s loyal scribe.
Even tho’ cricket’s at half-mast.

*          *          *          *

Fulton, made the runs at home
He didn’t add to his tome;
Still he can rest on laurels
For now, when he arrives home.

Ruds, no not Ken, it’s Hamish now
He secured his spot to end any row.
May he bat on with his willow blade
And make good his run-plough.

Kane did not quite cane the Poms,
But still shows dormant class
As yet untapped. He might surpass
Some records yet, I let him pass.

Rosco again proved his mettle.
He played the best knocks
For that I offer humble tribute.
Rosco with wood guitar clearly rocks.

Guppy has a way to go yet
To be in the bracket of “world class”.
He has the style, can come good yet.
Runs are the key but for me “no pass”.

Brownlie, no Maurice, on this tour.
Mighty was he, but Dean derailed.
Can he lift his play, not become dour;
His bat speed, I lament, failed.

Brendon’s the skipper, as such
He needs to do much more
Than he did this tour and much
Admiration depends on his score.

Watling had the gloves at Lord’s.
He impressed in warm-up matches
But in cricket’s home of Lords
Injury meant he played in snatches.

Southee’s really come good, a hero
At Lord’s, a 10-wicket haul,
His batting’s now handy, no zero
To his name, he’s the heart and the soul.

Boult arrived on the world stage,
5 wickets at Headingly; his name
was made on this tour. With the cage
around the batting, he was not tame.

Doug a cricketer with distinctive tats,
Nice to see him back and playing well.
I won’t bore you with feeble stats.
His name he didn’t disgrace: Bracewell.

Martin was competent without flair;
His batting was missed on this tour;
It’d be hard to see a place and compare
To Vettori if his spin turns sour.

Wagner is still coming on strong.
With his passion, others could learn.
He makes strides and toils on,
While batsmen crash and burn.

*          *          *          *

There you have it, lots of work to do.
McCullum’s building a team and intends
To deliver. And we may yet have a team
To be proud of. Can they tighten the ends?

Poem © Mark Pirie 2013

*Tom Latham and Mark Gillespie also toured but didn’t play in the tests.

Article © Mark Pirie 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day four at Headingley

Day four played out much as I thought it would.
A century to England captain Alistair Cook, the England record holder for most Test centuries, and a big run chase for New Zealand of 468. Did Cook bat for too long? Possibly.
It’s all down to the weather now with New Zealand’s batsmen trying hard but fairing little better than in the first innings finishing 158-6 with skipper McCullum and Tim Southee at the crease.
Hamish Rutherford again looks a real find for New Zealand with a well-made 42 and Ross Taylor with 70 showed his consistency at Test level. A couple of late wickets in the darkening conditions, however, handed the day to England.

At times like these, there’s a well-known song by Neil Finn’s Crowded House that goes “Wherever you go / Always take the weather with you…’
Right now there’s a blustery southerly wind where I am in Wellington and rain, and around the country snow has been falling in some areas. The Finns are cricket fans. I can but wish New Zealand’s team could take our weather with them to Leeds.
If it’s any use, here’s a short rain dance:


A cricket fan’s prayer when odds are low

Rain! rain! oh please arrive today.
Keep the covers on; stay all day!

Poem © Mark Pirie 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Day three at Headingley

After staying up till midnight to follow the first session of day three, I was beginning to enjoy New Zealand’s batting again. I thought too soon as England’s Steven Finn struck twice removing both openers, Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford, just before lunch. A good start of 55-0 quickly became
In the morning, checking the score, I found another mediocre New Zealand batting display, with the opening wheels of the innings well and truly fallen off: 174 all out.
Reviews by commentators of the day’s play were fairly scathing of New Zealand’s batting. Two stanzas from Michael O’Leary’s witty ‘Ballad of Reading Oval’ (a rewrite of Oscar Wilde’s ‘Ballad of Reading Gaol’) came to mind in the case of Hamish Rutherford, Peter Fulton, Martin Guptill and Dean Brownlie:

Some play careless strokes when they are young
And some when they are old
Some leave such a gap twixt bat and pad
That the ball, like an arrow of gold
Straight to its target blindly goes
Leaving the batsman out in the cold

Some hit too little, some too long
Some wait for an extra or a bye
Some leave the field almost in tears
And some without a sigh
For each man pulls the stumps on himself
Yet none can answer why

Guptill, a very good bat, always looks the part and stylish, and he did look the part again, showing his front foot defensive technique as he leaned forward to defend the ball from Swann. Just one problem: he left ‘such a gap twixt bat and pad’. Oh well.
But you know something definitely isn’t right when Trent Boult’s tail-end slogging is the main highlight of New Zealand’s batting in news footage from a Test. His three sixes off Graeme Swann were clearly T20 shots rather than Test level cricket. Good on him, however, for helping avoid the follow on, which Cook didn't enforce.

I can’t see New Zealand squaring the series from here. England’s well placed to set a big run chase, and Boult is now injured.
I said after the Lord’s Test that our batsmen need to find the ‘necessary mettle’ and today’s play highlights that comment. In good batting conditions, they needed to make much more of their first innings in a must-win match.
It’s difficult to say how poor our current 2013 batting is. I can remember sitting through a number of batting disasters at Basin Tests in recent years.
Another poem came to mind again, written ahead of the 1937 England tour:

Cricket Ballade

(Written after witnessing some “highlights” recently on the Basin.)

Glumly I sit by the Basin rail.
  The play’s so poor I’ve a mind to quit;
A feeble stroke and a flying bail,
  Or else it’s caught off a woozy hit!
And as the batsmen process, I grit
  My teeth in despair, and groan: Oh dear,
This isn’t the cricket we “uster git”!
  Where are the players of yesteryear?

Where are the men whose bat, like a flail,
  Beflogged the ball, till it well nigh split?,
Who seldom knew what it was to fail
  To lift on the score a tidy bit!
Who scorned to potter and poke, or sit
  On the splice, if the wicket was somewhat queer.
Hiddleston, Dempster, McGirr, to wit!
  Where are the players of yesteryear?

The prospect’s gloomy. No stars prevail.
  Dull is the cricketing sky, unlit!
The bowling’s weak and the batting “tail,”
  And that’s about all there is to it.
Send forth these crudies with fern and kit!
  Absurd! The Pommies would grin and jeer.
Scarce one of ’em’s worth a “thrippenny bit.”
  Oh, where are the players of yesteryear?

Percy, the fans to your care commit
  Their woeful case. If you’d raise a cheer,
Prevail on the gods—can you smooge a bit?—
  To give back the players of yesteryear.


(From Postscripts, The Evening Post, 6 February 1937)

Percy, in the poem, is Percy Flage [aka C A Marris, editor of the “Postscripts” column]. I’m unable to uncover who the author ‘C.V.L.’ is.
It’s a very pertinent poem (after Villon’s French ballades) outlining a New Zealand cricket fan’s past frustrations. Of course, the bowling for New Zealand (unlike in this poem) has been the strong point on this current tour. Trent Boult’s five-for was a standout today.
Yet despite the poem’s protest, it’s never as simple as just wishing for a Bert Sutcliffe, Martin Donnelly, Stewie Dempster, Herb McGirr, Glenn Turner or Martin Crowe to materialise again.
I believe we have the nucleus of a good batting line-up in the young Hamish Rutherford, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill. They do need to show more application at international level than they are currently doing but they do have the talent and class when you see their better shots, such as Rutherford’s cover drive in the first session.
Not much hope left for this Second Test. We can wish for rain. 1-0 is always better than 2-0 on a tour of England. A bit like the 1958 Test series, which New Zealand lost 4-0 with one match drawn. 4-0 was a lot better then than a 5-0 whitewash.

Article © Mark Pirie 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day two at Headingley: A Joe Root poem

Play finally got under way in the Second Test at Headingley. Vettori didn't make the New Zealand XI.
England made three hundred odd for the loss of seven wickets from 94 overs, so it will be hard for New Zealand to win from here and square the series.
Still, from a cricket watcher’s point-of-view, Joe Root making his maiden Test century was the highlight and I've composed a Joe Root ‘concrete poem’ below.
When I first started writing at 18, I came across North American poet John Hollander’s concrete poem from the late ’60s. It was included in the 1970s US school anthology The Lyric Potential given to me as a child in San Francisco. (An article about it appeared on my website.) Hollander’s poem ‘Under a Beach Umbrella’ was in the shape of a beach umbrella, a fun idea that appealed to me as a young student.
I wrote a few in my book, No Joke (2001): one in the shape of an electric rock guitar and the other in the shape of a jazz trumpet.
Of course, concrete poetry dates back centuries: George Herbert’s 17th century ‘Easter Wings’ for example and even Dylan Thomas’s 20th century sequence ‘Vision and Prayer’ before the concrete poetry movement was in full swing in the 1950s and '60s. In New Zealand, the contemporary poet Michele Leggott (among others like Alan Wells) has made use of concrete poems composing a sequence, ‘Tigers’, in the form of globes.
The idea to make a new concrete cricket poem came to me after following young English batsman Joe Root’s great start to the season: several first class hundreds (including one double hundred) plus his 71 in the Lord’s Test last weekend, and now his maiden century at Headingly this weekend. Congratulations, Joe.
Here is my Joe Root poem in the shape of his bat.

Joe Root’s bat

(a concrete poem)

J  O  E
R O  O
T  B  A
T  T   I
N G  ’S
A  H  O
O  T  I
F  Y O
U  A R
E  J  O
E  R O
O  T

Poem © Mark Pirie 2013

If you work out the e. e. cummings-like riddle of the words: it reads like an epigram: “Joe Root, Joe Root, batting’s a hoot, if you’re Joe Root…”
Kevin Pietersen was my favourite batsman of the current crop but Joe Root is definitely a batsman to watch.

Article © Mark Pirie 2013

William Outhwaite’s 1885 Auckland cricket poem

With day one at Headingley washed out, I put my time to some use hunting out an old 19th century cricket poem on Saturday.
When I was putting together A Tingling Catch a few years ago, one book I wasn't able to view at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington was a diary by the Twelve of an Auckland First Class XI’s tour south in the 1884/85 season titled Pavilion Echoes from the South. (The copy had been temporarily misplaced.)
It was the second collection after the first tour diary On Tented Fields of the South collected by the Childe [Auckland cricketer W F Buckland – the presumed author] in the 1882/83 season and printed in Auckland in 1883. I included several poems from that book in A Tingling Catch.
Well, when another Auckland team toured south two seasons later, their diary including cricket poems and songs appeared similarly, printed in Auckland in 1885.
Of interest in this book is also a poem by William Outhwaite, the presumed author of The Ladies’ Guide to Cricket c1883. An essay about the book and Outhwaite’s life appears on this blog.
As a companion to that article, I’d like to share with you Outhwaite’s cricket poem, ‘To Robinson’s Twelve’, concerning the Twelve who toured from Auckland.
Outhwaite mentions W Lankham, R Blair, A B O’Brien, Jack Arneil, R J Yates and W F Buckland as remaining behind. They were some of the well-known Auckland players who were all on the first tour south in 1882/83. (They all appear in the first Tented Fields diary.)
The Auckland captain of both touring teams was W W (“Billy”) Robinson. A friend Rowan Gibbs who is working on a cricket book about Robinson’s career found this poem by Outhwaite for me while researching a copy of Pavilion Echoes from the South in the Rare Books Section of the Auckland City Library.
The copy of Pavilion Echoes from the South has now been located at the Turnbull Library, and I was at last able to reproduce the poem.
Here it is:


To Robinson’s Twelve

(A New Ode by an Old Chum)

Forth from the North there sallied a team
Of wanderers, partially skimming the cream
Of our cricket, but leaving behind ’em,
A “residuum” that made us look glum,
While the A.C.A., in a pet swore “By gum,
“We shan’t call ’em Reps.—never mind ’em!”

*          *          *          *          *

            For Lankham, Yates, O’Brien,
            With Jack Arneil the fly ’un
Reluctantly forbore the pleasant cruise;
            Tho’ substitutes were plucky,
            And sometimes rather lucky,
They couldn’t slog like giant Blair and Dewes.

            While C. F. Reid and Walker,
            With Buckland—mighty talker,—
And eke almighty leveller of sticks,
            Were left forlorn to languish,
            And drop the tear of anguish,
Ah me! ’tis hard to kick against the pricks.

            Then kindly Cantab foeman
            Call this not—improper nomen
An Auckland Representative Eleven,
            Nor reason like that simple
            Childish wearer of a wimple
In Wordsworth’s little poem “We are seven.”

            For certes our chosen cricket,
            When Provincially we pick it,
Can furnish forth a tougher lot to tackle;
            So reckon not as laurel
            A wreath of mountain sorrel,
Nor swell your list of victories with cackle.

*          *          *          *          *

Yet our trusty skipper undaunted sailed
With his casual crew, and they never quailed
            Before the long odds that faced us:
A draw, a defeat, and a win he scores—
Wanderers! Welcome back to our shores—
            Good lads, ye have not disgraced us!

Poem © William Outhwaite 1885


The poem was signed W.E.O. [William Eugene Outhwaite].

“A.C.A.” = Auckland Cricket Association.

The poem is introduced with the following text:

The following verses have been sent by the writer on account of a paragraph in the Canterbury Times. As our correspondent sees nearly all our matches, has played well himself, and is an excellent judge, we append the lines. The paragraph which caused our kind sympathiser and contributor to burst into verse runs as follows:—“From an intimate knowledge of Auckland cricket, none of those left behind would have done better than their substitutes.” Now, even though our vanity may make us agree with the Canterbury Times, figures on the Domain tell us a different tale, Reader—Au Revoir!

I note that the poem references Wordsworth and a quote from Wordsworth’s poem ‘Peter Bell’ is also in the Ladies’ Guide to Cricket – a reference that gives us more evidence for Outhwaite as the presumed author of the Ladies’ Guide.
The style of this Outhwaite poem is more in line with the light verse cricket poems contained in the Ladies’ Guide. (One of these poems is also in Pavilion Echoes from the South.)
The Auckland team (Dec-Jan 1884/85) mentioned in the poem drew with Wellington, lost to Canterbury and defeated Otago (both of the latter two games played at Lancaster Park), so did not fair too badly despite being considered a weakened Auckland side by Outhwaite for the tour south.

Article © Mark Pirie 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

At Headingley: A Freddie Trueman poem

A few days have transpired since the Lord’s Test. It was a setback like some of New Zealand’s Tests in the ’40s and ’50s but I’m now looking forward to the Second and final Test of the England series.
News from Leeds, Yorkshire (Freddie Trueman country), indicates it’s probable they’ll include Daniel Vettori and Martin Guptill in place of Bruce Martin and B J Watling who have ended their tours with injuries. McCullum will take up the wicket-keeping duties.
It would be great to see Vettori back in action for New Zealand. I hope he is there come match day. (They could play four seamers instead.) His experience would certainly calm the nerves of some of the younger players, just like having an old cricket great visit you in the dressing room.
Speaking of cricket legends like Vettori and Trueman, my last blog post mentioned the cricket writer John Arlott, also a poet and well-known broadcaster. I picked up some recordings of his broadcasts on cassette tape recently. Arlott was one of the greats of cricket writing.
I was lucky enough to pick up a selection of his writings at a Book Fair last year along with a copy of his biography of Freddie Trueman titled Fred.
When Trueman died in 2006, I wrote the following poem for him, recalling his visit to Wellington College where he spoke to us in a packed assembly hall.
I’ll share it with you on the eve of the Test at Headingley. Trueman formed a lethal bowling partnership with Brian Statham.
He ended his career with 307 wickets at an average of 21.57 from 67 Tests.


‘Fiery’ Fred

Freddie Trueman (1931-2006)

“…someone described him as a young bull and there was in his approach that majestic rhythm that emerges as a surprise in the Spanish fighting bull.” – John Arlott, Fred

Once the service
and the tributes are over,
and the dust settles as it must

History is what is left,
and History always looks
to change the strike.

Once, when on a visit
to Wellington, I met you
from a distance.

“Please welcome Freddie Trueman.”
The applause broke out
in our college assembly hall.

Different, I suppose, to
the unheeded noise as each
new wicket was snared.

That day, after assembly
and school had finished,
I went home and found my book,

looking for your action to follow.
In my room, I tried in vain
to arc my arm like the photo

as if I was a kid mimicking you
in the stands at Headingley
or The Oval. And now that you’re gone

records remain: the first 
to 300 Test wickets, devastating in
the home series against the Windies.

Those 300 wickets appear a long-broken
record now, especially in this
age of 700s, but I figure, even so,

you’d still be looking to include
yourself in any historical XI,
ruefully turning the strike over yet again.

Poem © Mark Pirie 2008

The book I mention with the photo of Trueman’s bowling action was Peter Arnold’s The Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Cricket, Golden Press, Auckland, 1987. The book was my chief bedtime reading at the age of 13 along with the 1987 Shell New Zealand Cricket Almanack.
Trueman’s ‘devastating’ series with the West Indies in 1957 (referred to here) shows his bowling figures as 22 wickets in five tests at the average of 20.68 in Peter Arnold’s book, still just as handy like the cricket almanack despite online archives. Surprisingly his best Test figures came in his first series with India where he took 8-31 at Old Trafford, Manchester.  
Good luck to New Zealand for the Second Test. Square the series and make us proud!

‘Fiery’ Fred first published in Mark Pirie’s Slips: Cricket poems (Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, Paekakariki, 2008).

Article © Mark Pirie 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Day four at Lord's

“The horror! The horror!” that most famous Conradian crux (from the story The Heart of Darkness) came to mind on witnessing New Zealand’s defeat at Lord’s this morning.
(Especially when batsmen of the quality of Kane Williamson chip to mid off.)
My blog stats for Williamson and Taylor posted the day before confirmed my worst fears. With Williamson and Taylor gone cheaply, it was a no win situation. McCullum came to the crease and put away two fours but then succumbed to an lbw appeal. 29 for 6.
It didn’t get much better after the lunch break, Martin and Watling batted with injuries and New Zealand were all out for a sorry 68, including a poor run-out to end the display. Wagner top scored with 17.
It was an unexpected calamity to end this way on what seemed after the first day a moderate pitch. From the second day onwards wickets fell at pace: 10 (Day 2), 12 (Day 3) and 14 on the final day. Who’d have thought? The New Zealand chase of 239 did seem likely.

It’s hard to stay positive sometimes as a New Zealand cricket fan, but for much of the game we had England virtually on the ropes.
After Southee’s six wicket haul, I was on the phone to a friend, excitedly talking up New Zealand. Could we secure a famous victory at Lord’s? It must’ve been a huge disappointment when fans awoke in New Zealand to check the score.
I can only imagine what cricket writers Harold Pinter, John Arlott and Pelham Warner would’ve made of it all.

It’s easy in review of this Test to give credit to the bowlers: Southee for New Zealand (10 wickets in the match) and Anderson and Broad for England, especially Broad, but one player who again caught my eye was the young Joe Root. His second innings decided the match just as much as the bowling. Root’s 71 was a very mature knock from the coming star of English cricket.
Broad, on the other hand, was a revelation. In his last three Tests with New Zealand he had shown some signs (6-51 at the Basin) that he was capable of becoming the destroyer (a relentless “tommy gun” as one commentator put it) and it was certainly his day. The ball of the match ripped out Hamish Rutherford’s off stump.

I could write a poem-lament (or an elegy) but I feel it’s time to focus on the next stop: Headingly.
Our bowlers showed we can foot it with the English; it’s now up to our batsmen to show the necessary mettle and finish the job.

Article © Mark Pirie 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day three at Lord’s

It seemed smart to refrain from commenting on the New Zealand first innings until the end of the third day. They were looking good at the end of day two but then wobbled, dismissed for 207 giving England a lead of 25 runs going into the second innings.
The New Zealand bowlers have done well to keep to England to just over a 200-run lead with four wickets remaining. Can the New Zealand batsmen chase down the runs?
Looking at the first innings effort, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor were the standouts for New Zealand. They did all the hard work to draw the second test v England at the Basin in March too. Taylor was the aggressor in his 100th first class match and Williamson the grafter, prepared to wait for the bad ball and maintain his patience and concentration.
A look at these two since the Zimbabwe Test win in 2011 up to the conclusion of the recent England series at home reveals the following stats:

Ross Taylor 

v ZIM 76 & 76
v AUS 19 & 0
v AUS 6 & 56
v ZIM 122* (retired hurt)
v SA 44 & 48*
v SA 44 & 17
v SA 18* (retired hurt)
v WI 45 & 21
v WI 60 & 0
v IND 2 & 7
v IND 113 & 35
v SL 9 & 18
v SL 142 & 74
v ENG 31
v ENG 0 & 41*
v ENG 19 & 3

Total: 1146 runs at an average of 45.84. Three first innings hundreds (as captain).

Kane Williamson

v ZIM 49 & 68
v AUS 14 & 0
v AUS 19 & 34
v ZIM 4
v SA 11
v SA 0 & 77
v SA 39 & 102*
v WI 0 & 19
v WI 22 & 8
v IND 32 & 52
v IND 17 & 13
v SL 0 & 10
v SL 135 & 18
v ENG 24
v ENG 42 & 55*
v ENG 91 & 1

Total: 956 runs at an average of 35.40. One second innings hundred v South Africa.

I have not included the South Africa Test series in 2012/13 where they weren’t playing together on those occasions.
In the four matches New Zealand won (highlighted in bold) Taylor scored 552 runs at an average of 92.00 (two centuries), whereas Williamson scored 327 runs at an average of 46.71 (one century).
Stats are fun to look at and imagine that if these two are on song New Zealand will have a good chance of winning this Test in the second innings, you could say. (New Zealand have not won in England since the famous victory in 1999.)
The stats do show that Taylor has not made a century in the second innings of a recent Test, whereas Williamson did against South Africa with the pressure on. So, is Williamson’s grafting approach the key to a solid second innings at Lord’s?
Williamson averages 41.54 in the second innings of recent Tests played with Taylor and Taylor averages 36.00. Hundreds may not even be an issue if the 50s are the top scores in the Test to date.
Cricket followers know that the best bats don’t often perform when expected to, and the winning runs may come from any of the top seven on their day, including B J Watling the wicket-keeper or a lively cameo from Tim Southee in a potentially low-scoring contest. Yet I like to think that the signs are there for an important innings from Taylor or Williamson in the conclusion to this match.

Article © Mark Pirie 2013