New Zealand batsman Daryl Mitchell continued his strong series on day one. Photo / Getty
Follow all the action from day two of the third test between the Black Caps and England from Headingley.
By Andrew Alderson at Headingley
Daryl Mitchell moved New Zealand into a position of respectability but not authority at lunch on the second day of the third cricket test against England at Headingley.
The Black Caps were 325 for eight with Mitchell reaching his fourth test century and becoming the fifth of his compatriots, after Mark Burgess (1969-72), Ross Taylor (2013), Tom Latham (2018-19) and Kane Williamson (2020-21), to score tons in three successive tests.
He was caught by Ben Stokes running back from mid-off for 109 off the bowling of spinner Jack Leach to complete the session.
Tim Southee was unbeaten on 33.
Mitchell’s 482 runs in the three tests are now the highest by a New Zealander in a series against England, topping Martin Donnelly’s 462 in 1949.
His sixth-wicket partnership of 120 with Tom Blundell marked the first time the same pair of New Zealanders have made century partnerships in three consecutive tests, after their efforts at Lord’s and Trent Bridge.
Their application was admirable, resisting the English attack and several failed reviews to stitch the resistance together. Mitchell’s strength was in disruption, constantly ensuring bowlers struggled for rhythm by hitting spin down the ground and anchoring his stance outside the crease. Blundell darted about in customary fashion but with a still head that set up precise, low-risk stroke-making.
Blundell was eventually adjudged lbw to Matthew Potts for 55. The delivery hit the back pad and was angling towards leg stump. The Black Cap’s frustration was understandable when he realised DRS was unavailable for a review.
To quote the television show Little Britain: “Computer says no”.
Still, New Zealand also had some escapes.
Ben Foakes poached and butchered a snick off Mitchell on 80 which looked destined for Joe Root’s hands at first slip.
Jonny Bairstow threw a right hand at an edge from Michael Bracewell on four. Captain Stokes and bowler Stuart Broad could not hide their angst.
Still, after an umpteenth attempt by England to change what they considered an unsatisfactory ball, Broad had Bracewell caught by Zak Crawley at second slip for 13.
Henry Nicholls’ exit for 19 provided the key talking point from the opening day.
His misfortune generated schadenfreude for England, distress for New Zealand and curiosity for neutrals.
Nicholls unleashed a straight drive in the air from Leach. The shot looked safe as umpire Richard Kettleborough ducked.
Cue Mitchell’s villainous bat.
The non-striker took evasive action but his willow had other ideas, such as middling the ball to an alert Alex Lees at mid-off.
Howzat? That’s out.
To paraphrase the Marylebone Cricket Club’s law 18.104.22.168: A batter will stride back to the pavilion in a state of perplexed fury if a fielder catches the ball after it has touched the wicket, an umpire, another fielder or the other batter.
Nicholls endured 99 balls across 137 minutes after arriving at 62 for three. He struggled for timing, like the rest of the top order.
Ironically, after struggling for so long, he hit the meat of two bats via the same delivery.
Leach responded with a c’est la vie reaction.
“I didn’t know if that was allowed [as a dismissal]. I’ve never seen anything like it, but I’ll take any wicket I can. It’s unlucky for Nicholls and lucky for me.
“I don’t like those wickets really. Well, I like them because it says I’ve got two on the board, but I don’t like the dismissal. Still, I felt like I had bowled pretty well to Nicholls leading up to that.
“It’s a silly game isn’t it? That’s what it made me think.”
Black Caps batting coach Luke Ronchi offered a wry observation.
“Daryl managed to middle it, like he’s been doing all series. Unfortunately it created Henry’s demise, but what else can you do?
“Most of us just gave him some space.”