England may pay for excessive caution
On the face of it, England have played it exactly right so far during the second Test against New Zealand.
With the Black Caps on 158-6 at the close, England – in theory – have three seasons to take four wickets on the final day and seal a 2-0 victory.
I say in theory, because the weather forecast on Tuesday is dreadful, with a washout like we saw on day one a real possibility, meaning Michael Vaughan’s prediction of a draw will come true.
If that is the case then England will still win the series, but they should have wrapped this game up much earlier.
On Sunday evening Jonathan Trott brought the innings almost to a standstill, scoring 11 of 69 balls. He is known for digging in and not being rushed into silly strokes – something that makes him a safe Ashes bet. But he showed on Monday morning that he is capable of scoring quickly. – his caution cost England crucial time.
There was then the puzzling decision to bat on well into the afternoon session. England eventually declared on 468 – meaning New Zealand would have to break the world record if they were to win. But this is a batting attack that crumbled for jut 68 only a week ago, was pushing beyond 400 really necessary?
It then wasn’t even as if Cook set ultra attacking fields, with some men posted out on the boundary, as if New Zealand only had 200 to chase down.
In being cautious England have ensured they won’t lose, but they may well have ensured they won’t win either. Andy Flower and co. will say they have still won the series, but if they want to become the best team in the world, they need to develop a ruthless streak. England should have gone for the kill on Sunday evening, setting up an early declaration on Monday.
Instead they will be looking to the heavens, hoping for a spell of dry weather on the final day that will give them enough time to finish the tourists off. And even if they do, questions will still be asked about England’s excessively cautious tactics.