96th over: New Zealand 244-6 (Mitchell 82 Bracewell 0) DRS breaks down, England perk up, as Potts traps Blundell in front with one slightly slanted in. It could have been missing leg but in real time I think you’d give it. This match continues to generate talking-point dismissals, but this is how it used to work in the olden days, kids. Potts is round the wicket at the left-handed Bracewell, who plays out the over.
The DRS system needs to be turned off and turned on again, prompting a brief delay to the start of Potts’s over. For the moment, we’re DRS-less. And wouldn’t you know it, Blundell is trapped in front with one similar to yesterday’s at Mitchell. The umpire’s finger goes up – and there’s nothing the batter can do about it. Potts has his deserved scalp at last.
95th over: New Zealand 243-5 (Mitchell 82 Blundell 55) More good running from this pair, as Blundell nabs a quick dabbed single off Overton, who then strays down legside and a deflection off Mitchell’s pads speeds to the ropes for four leg-byes. Mike Atherton on Sky comms errs by describing Stuart Broad’s football team as “Notts Forest”. The pedantic subeditor in me just cannot let this sort of stuff go uncommented upon.
94th over: New Zealand 238-5 (Mitchell 82 Blundell 54) More disciplined line and length fare from Potts, and Mitchell is forced to be watchful. First maiden of the day.
“I’ve a nasty feeling that 300 will be a very good score,” reckons Gary Naylor. “England will go hard at the ball and the edges will carry. You can’t defy the batting gods indefinitely before they wreak their revenge.” Yes, though this is looks like a fine surface to bat on, there’s plenty on offer for bowlers, and indeed fielders.
93rd over: New Zealand 238-5 (Mitchell 82 Blundell 54) Overton continues to find pace and bounce, forcing Blundell to mistime a pull into his body, but when the bowler repeats the delivery Blundell gets right on top of it and pulls it square beyond a diving Bairstow for four. Bairstow has better luck when smartly stopping a repeat of the shot next ball.
92nd over: New Zealand 234-5 (Mitchell 82 Blundell 50) Potts begins from the rugby stand end. He maintains yesterday’s decent, tight and probing length but luck continues to elude him, as Mitchell is dropped, when Foakes dives across Root at first slip to try to snaffle the edge and parries it to the deck. That was Root’s to take all day long
“We all like a good laugh,” writes John Starbuck, “but does any other sport celebrate pratfalls as much as cricket does?” Basketloads of “gaffes and own goals” videos would suggest football has a good go too.
91st over: New Zealand 232-5 (Mitchell 80 Blundell 50) Jamie Overton gets first use of the 10-overs old ball, from the Kirkstall Lane End. A tentative field with two slips but two men out deep is set for him. Mitchell clips him away for a single second ball to get NZ up and running for the day. Blundell is then squared up by one that spits brutally off the surface and hits him near the shoulder – that’s what Overton offers. A hurried single follows next ball. And Mitchell does likewise to keep things ticking over. The first boundary of the day – a squirt beyond second slip that speeds to the ropes – then brings up Blundell’s 50, another accomplished half-century.
Ben Stokes leads England out, Blundell and Mitchell follow them. Headingley looks gloriously packed.
A note of encouragement for NZ, and foreboding for England:
Here you are for yer overseas TMS link – thanks to Raiza Ballim for the prompt.
“Talking of strange dismissals,” writes 1980s sports guru Steve Pye: “I’ve always had a soft spot for Wayne Phillips and the 1985 Ashes incident. Probably helps that I’m English.”
Yeah I remember that – a massive moment. Australia had been digging in and recovering from the previous evening’s Richard Ellison-inspired collapse, then that freak dismissal prised it open again. An English win masterminded by players that swiftly faded from prominence at international level thereafter – Ellison and Tim Robinson.
True to forecasts, it’s a bit cloudy in LS6 this morning. The ball is still pretty new. England will have chances.
It’s not often a spinner takes centre-stage on a first day at Headingley, but things happen around Jack Leach at this place, and – having bowled well with the hard ball – he then took the most talked-about wicket of the series. And here’s some pre-play reading about it from our Jonathan Liew:
Though those who’ve played the game at a more, er, rudimentary level know that these kinds of things do happen in this great game of ours:
Who’d have thought, at the start of this series, that its two most unshiftable New Zealand batters would be Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell? But for the third Test in a row, here we are, the pair adding to their restorative partnerships at Lord’s and Trent Bridge with another one at Headingley that meant a day that looked set to be firmly England’s ended up even.
Of course, if England hadn’t been so curiously timid in opting against reviewing a denied stonewall lbw shout against Mitchell when on eight, I could be filling this preamble with more paeans to the Red-Ball Reset. We may yet get to do so later of course – this Test is beautifully poised and a couple of wickets in the first hour will put the hosts back in the ascendancy on a surface that looks a pleasure to bat on.
The weather, however, could get a little more Headingley-ish in the next couple of days, which might add a note of jeopardy and put a spring in the steps of bowlers. Whatever, you’ll want to keep following. It’s Leeds, where Stuff happens, as we have already seen with Henry Nicholls’ outlandish dismissal yesterday.
Bring it all on. Play starts at 11am BST.