As far as nightmares go, this would have to be one of cricket’s most feared-outcomes as a team. It was expected that New Zealand would edge out the visiting-England on their home deck in the first test, instead they’ve just about put the visitors away on the first day after a batting catastrophe in the first innings.
Electing to field first, Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson must have known that this Auckland pitch had plenty to offer with the ball, or maybe it was just a plan to put pressure on England from the world go. Needless to say, everything was relatively calm until the first wicket fell. With star all-rounder Ben Stokes back in the test side, this game had all the makings of an epic encounter. The last time these two teams met at this venue in a test (2013), the match was drawn in an arm-wrestle-like manor to gain ascendancy over one another, it wasn’t to be. Fast-forward five years to the present and we’re expecting another hard-fought contest between these two sides with the expectation that 4-5 days might not be enough once again. Well, you can forget I even said that after what just went down at Eden Park.
Lasting just 94 minutes at the crease, it was one of those innings that went so quickly, you were still trying to process in your head what had just happened. What looked to be an evenly-contested match coming into the first test quickly became a battle for survival for one team, and a rampaging-slaughtering from the other. The classy-Alastair Cook kicked things off after Trent Boult had him in a tangle as the first wicket fell in the fifth over, what was to follow had to be seen to be believed. Just like the innings itself, in the blink of an eye England had lost all control as they could do nothing to subdue the damaging-duo of Trent Boult and Tim Southee who had them on a leash. Skipper Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad were all dismissed for ducks, while the rest of the team weren’t far off from that group either as the innings continued to fall to pieces. Craig Overton was the only batsmen who looked like he was batting on another pitch, unbeaten at the end of the innings on 33 off 25 deliveries. England may have been shambolic with the bat, but Trent Boult and Tim Southee were faultless with the ball, quite a phenomenal spell of bowling.
Boult in particular was almost-unplayable, ending the innings with figures of 6/32 after his zippy-swing bowling got the better of England. The 28-year-old was getting the ball to swing both ways with made life extremely difficult for England at the crease, in the end quality reigned supreme over a defensive & shaky batting line-up. His accomplice Tim Southee was at his best as well, claiming 4/25 as it took the Black Caps just 20.4 overs to roll-through the visitors for a measely-58. The fact that New Zealand only required two bowlers for the entire innings signifies how dominant that performance actually was, they’re well and truly in the box seat with four days remaining.
New Zealand haven’t taken their foot off the gas either, they’re currently 3/178 in their first innings with skipper Kane Williamson approaching yet another test century for his country.