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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Monday May 25 2015

Am I going to have to stop denouncing test matches that clash with the IPL?  The IPL didn’t seem to have a lot of close finishes this time around.  (Yesterday’s final was over long before it was over, if you get my meaning.) And now, both England and New Zealand have all their top players playing test cricket, in England, in May.  And playing it really well.  NZ, a far better team now than they were only a few years back, got over 500 in their first innings and a serious first innings lead.  But yesterday Cook batted all day, and Stokes scored a century that absolutely did not take all day.

What struck me, watching Stokes on the C5 highlights yesterday evening, was how sweetly his off-drives were struck.  He is no mere slogger, although he definitely can slog.  Thanks to Stokes, England can now, on the final day, win.

Stokes hitting two blistering scores at number six (he also got 92 in the first innings), and Root not wasting any time at number five, means that Pietersen can now kiss his test career a final goodbye.  Had the England batting failed in this mini-series against NZ, and above all had it failed slowly, the cries for Pietersen to come in and beef it up and speed it up would have grown in volume.  As it was, the slow guys at the top failed (Lyth and Ballance both twice over), apart from Cook yesterday, while the quick batters got on with it.  This leaves no place for Pietersen.  Bell?  A decent innings in the next game will end any moans about him.

Meanwhile, this test match, as of today, is a real cracker.  And today is one of those great test days in London where they cut the prices for the last day and Lord’s suddenly fills up with people like me.  Not actually me, today.  But I thought about it.  And if I thought about actually going, it can’t be that I think the game is meaningless.  Score one for the Old Farts who think that the IPL is just a faraway T20 slog of which we know little.

This game began with England being 30 for 4.  Now NZ are 12 for 3, “chasing” (the inverted commas there meaning: forget about it) 345.  Broad, a bowler who, in between match winning performances, looks like a bit of a waste of space, has two wickets already.  Plus, Taylor, whom Broad has just got out, was dropped off him in the previous over, and that now gets mentally chalked up by both sides as further evidence that another wicket is liable to fall at any moment.

Earlier in the week Paul Collingwood of Durham was talking up Stokes, also of Durham.  He can bat, said Collingwood, which he could say with confidence after Stokes made his first innings 92.  Stokes can also bowl, said Collingwood and should do so earlier than he has tended to so far in his test career.  He is not just a filler in, said Collingwood.  Well, now, with the score a mere 16 for 3, Stokes is bowling.

At lunch, NZ 21 for 3.

LATER: And just when I thought KP was forgotten, there was Boycott on the radio talking him up, as a replacement for the as-of-now non-firing Ian Bell.  So if England get hammered in the first two Ashes tests, with Bell getting four more blobs or near blobs ...  Maybe KP ...  I just added a question mark to my title.

LATER: Take a bow, Collingwood!  Stokes gets Williamson and McCullum in two balls!  NZ 61 for 5.