Matt Prior once again has established his credentials as the number one wicketkeeper batsman in the world after playing a potentially match-saving innings for England today in Auckland. His 73 runs took his side from a frankly embarrassing total to one that ensured New Zealand are not completely certain to seal victory in the final test. Prior’s unselfish approach to batting has been a key aspect of England’s success over the last two years and could prove absolutely invaluable to his team’s hopes of avoiding an unexpected and potentially humiliating series loss in New Zealand.
New Zealand belied their test ranking with a performance today that made a mockery of the established world order of international cricket. Trent Boult’s 68-6 are figures not only to be reckoned with but which displayed that England should be very wary of over confidence for their incredibly busy months ahead. The English team and public have perhaps been overly guilty of looking ahead to the upcoming Ashes series before playing the team in front of them and New Zealand have clearly shown that they are not a force to be ignored in world cricket.
Whatever the sport and whatever the situation, it is a very English tendency to resort to hyperbole and over-optimism when faced with an exciting new young talent. However despite this, it appears that the England cricket team has a great hope for the future in Joe Root. The young Yorkshireman impressed on debut in India in both the test and one day arena, and on Sunday, he showed once again that he has an excellent temperament for international cricket. In much the same way as Alastair Cook instantly looked a natural test cricketer, Root has adapted to the pressures of the international game seamlessly and looks set to be a mainstay of the side for some time to come.
The current series in New Zealand has not been the one-sided affair that many predicted before a ball was bowled, and although the first two tests were rain affected, this has ultimately been a very even contest between both nations. Sunday’s play saw a flurry of wickets that seemed to contravene all expectations set on what was previously a seemingly docile pitch and that leaves the final test in a fascinating position. While New Zealand have undeniably had the best of things in the match they still find themselves in a potentially precarious position at 35-3 and with a lead of 274 and England’s much-vaunted bowling attack to see off once again things are very much still all to play for in this captivating final test.