And welcome to coverage of day five of the second Test. Day five! At Trent Bridge, which Cardus once called “a lotus land for batsmen, a place where it was always afternoon and 360 for two wickets”. It’s not quite as batsman friendly as it was in the days of Walter Keeton and Dodge Whysall, but with one short boundary, the fastest international outfield in the northern hemisphere, both teams playing vibrant, attacking cricket and a full house by virtue of Notts’ gracious gesture to let everyone in for free, we are poised for a terrific day’s play with all four results still available.
New Zealand have three wickets left, one of them the injured Kyle Jamieson. Jeremy Coney said last night that he thought England would be confident chasing 280 and, if their engine room clicks, four an over should not be beyond them ultimately even if they have to take a rather more circumspect approach at the start of the innings. With Jamieson unable to bowl, NZ will rely heavily on Trent Boult and Michael Bracewell but the conditions yesterday morning, if replicated today, might tease the best out of Tim Southee whose Test to forget so far was crowned by Daryl Mitchell burning him in a Boycottian run out late on.
They will go for it today, the McCullum-Stokes axis demands nothing less. Whether they have enough grit to shut the door if they lose early wickets might be the real test of the new regime. Whatever happens, this series has been a great tonic for Test cricket. Look where we were a year ago against the same opposition. England have a long way to go to return to the top but making English cricket lovers like and respect them again is a significant first step on that path.