This was Test cricket in fast forward, New Zealand relentless in their determination to attack and refusing to rein themselves in, even after losing two early wickets and then two more straight after tea.
Twenty20 anyone? Well, the short form will not be necessary for thrills and spills if every captain follows the example of Brendon McCullum and every rival to him responds as Alastair Cook has done so far in this Investec series.
A day reduced to 65 overs started with Jimmy Anderson rapidly taking his 400th Test wicket and went on to feature a first-ball six over extra cover — yes, extra cover — from McCullum and then the fastest Test 50, off 37 balls, seen at Headingley by Luke Ronchi on debut.
It was heady, breathless stuff, with New Zealand rushing along at five runs an over for much of the day and eschewing the traditional Test disciplines. This is Test cricket but not as Jimmy knew it when he began his career 12 years ago against Zimbabwe. Instead of playing themselves in, New Zealand were flaying themselves in, and, as a consequence, ended on 297 for eight in barely more than two sessions.
The day looked destined to belong to Anderson when he struck with just his eighth ball — and the last before another short rain break — to dismiss Martin Guptill and become the first Englishman to reach an illustrious milestone.
The Yorkshire crowd rose as one to a Lancastrian as Anderson became the 12th man, and eighth fast bowler, to join a distinguished group who have been beyond the reach of the greatest bowlers England have ever produced.
Then, when Anderson followed it by removing New Zealand’s rock in Kane Williamson three balls after play resumed, England were in control and had gone a long way to justifying Cook’s decision to bowl first. This, though, is a very different New Zealand team to the one beaten 2-0 here when these teams last met two years ago, soon after McCullum had replaced Ross Taylor in a messily handled change of captaincy.
Since then, one of the most impressive men in world cricket has, along with understated coach Mike Hesson, transformed his side with a brand of cricket that has seen them go unbeaten in six Test series.
McCullum seemed bemused before this match when asked about criticism from home that suggested New Zealand had taken their gung-ho approach too far in that Lord’s defeat. He is clearly not for turning.
Nothing summed up a style that could revolutionise the Test game in the same way that 50-over cricket has been transformed in recent years than the way McCullum started after Taylor had left an inswinger from Stuart Broad.
His first ball was full and outside off-stump but McCullum, dismissed first ball during the last-day drama at Lord’s, somehow drove it over the boundary.
The visiting captain raced to 41 off 28 balls and would have surely added many more had he not toe-ended the first ball after tea to mid-off when trying to hit Ben Stokes, the hero of Lord’s, into the neighbouring rugby league stadium.
No matter. All of New Zealand’s players have bought into their do-or-die philosophy and not even the departure of BJ Watling, falling to a rare good ball from the otherwise disappointing Mark Wood, could halt their flow.
Tom Latham had been given out caught behind off Broad on 18 by umpire Sundaram Ravi but a review showed that he was nowhere near it. Now he was joined by debutant Ronchi in a stand of 120 that ran England absolutely ragged and for a while threatened to put New Zealand in a position where they could dictate terms in this second Test.
Ronchi is a rarity in that he has played for both New Zealand, where he was born, and Australia where he was raised and for whom he played four one-day internationals and a Twenty20 standing in for Brad Haddin seven years ago.
The collapse of his form led to him throwing in his lot with the country of his birth but he has been known solely for limited-overs cricket before being handed a Test debut, at 34, because of Watling’s inability to keep wicket here.
Ronchi simply treated this as a one-day match, giving Latham a 58-run start but quickly overtaking him and racing along to 88 off 70 balls with three sixes before he was suckered into a Broad short-ball trap.
That wicket followed hot on the heels of the demise of Latham who appeared to run out of steam, should have been given out lbw off Moeen Ali by Ravi on 71 and was dropped, incredibly, three times in six balls on 72 and 76 before he was finally pouched by Joe Root in the slips.
That was a desperately needed double strike from Broad, who was arguably the pick of the England bowlers even though he went for almost six an over, but New Zealand kept on coming in front of a good-sized first day crowd.
He who dares might not necessarily win here but New Zealand have again led the way in vibrant, modern Test cricket and England kept the pressure on throughout, Wood forcing Tim Southee to hook to Adam Lyth in front of the Western Terrace before the close.
It completed a shortened but dizzying day and left the Headingley crowd not quite knowing what might happen next. – Daily Mail
Original source: Anderson joins 400 club