Morning, Tyers here. England had a tremendous day with the bat yesterday, and we will take some time to savour that before play starts, but let’s remind ourselves of the match position first and foremost.
England resume on day four still (still!) 80 runs in arrears, 473/5 in reply to New Zealand’s 553. The pitch has been turning a little bit for Kiwi part-time spinner Michael Bracewell, who impressed, and might do more so as we go on. There is still a lot of time in this game and although the draw is favourite, don’t rule out something dramatic happening in the third innings. If New Zealand can score quickly, they could yet give England a tricky assignment on day five. And while England did splendidly yesterday, it would not be astonishing or out of character for them to lose wickets in clusters on a fifth day….
On the other hand, Ben Stokes and the home dressing room will fancy that, if Joe Root can crack on today, they would well go past the Kiwis, then rattle out a knackered touring side and set up a chase in the fourth innings. We will see.
Play resumes at 11am this morning. It should be sunny and pleasant there today, there is a gentle breeze. No rain is forecast. There’s no reason we cannot get 90 overs (or, as in previous days, say 88 overs)
New Zealand’s family-sized seamer Kyle Jamieson borked his back yesterday so he won’t bowl. Yard yakka on the menu for Tim Southee and Trent Boult, both of whom continue to be splendid, skilled warriors for the Kiwi cause. They were let down by fielding yesterday. I think we have had nine or maybe ten drops so far this Test, both sides seem to have forgotten how to catch.
The man to watch this morning of course will be Joe Root. He was unbelievably good yesterday. There was a lovely moment when he played an incredible pull drive, taking a ball out side off and nailing it through long on that was so skilled that Ben Stokes was actually laughing on the balcony. Nick Hoult also ran the rule over Alex Lees, who advanced his own cause.
We should be in for an enjoyable day, I think. I imagine Root, as always, will score quickly, and if Foakes and the tail can crack on as well, England could yet set up a winning position.