England in New Zealand: ‘Patient approach pleasing but tourists could be busier’
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By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent
It was pleasing to see England finally embrace a disciplined and patient way of Test-match batting on the first day of the first Test in New Zealand.
It’s nothing new but it’s something England haven’t done well in the past few decades.
Grab the initiative and they’ve been decided to play favorably but often doesn’t function in Test matches.
I have been alone in stating where the bowlers are respected by the batsmen if they’re in control, I would find a more measured style, knowing if they really do hang in there it will get easier and your conducts can be scored by you.
That’s what England failed in reaching 241-4 from Mount Maunganui.
Though, without being critical, the vacationers could have been a bit busier.
Over the past five years, a side that bats 90 overs in a day strikes an average of England and 83 singles scored 60. That is a way down and indicates they might have been more proactive in running and pushing the ball into gaps.
Being busy isn’t about playing with shots or smashing the ball around, it’s keeping the scoreboard ticking with sisters and that is going to come to England because they know that this strategy.
There was a lot of departing. Deliveries bowled around which England were edging during the Ashes from Australia this summer, but here their judgment was even better.
It helps that Rory Burns along with openers Dom Sibley have a game that is all-natural that is watchful, although Joe Denly has a similar strategy but also showed his assortment of shots in making 74.
A three batting sets up a middle purchase.
England have batsmen in their middle order they don’t need them to be upside away at 30-4 which the top order supplied here.
Sibley appeared like he has clearly got an excellent character and loved himself. It showed in his assurance to clip on his first ball out for four and it was not a poor ball.
He’s quite open in his position, so he must work on acquiring his front foot across the off stump, not reach for the ball with his hands away from his body, even at nicking off for 22, as he did.
That is a big step up for him from a New Zealand assault but that four was a way.
Ollie Pope played well to the Test side on his own return – he’s that approach that was active and was not fazed by it being the last over of the day when he discharged a Tim Southee bouncer for four.
He’s actually determined to shoot his chance in Test cricket being dropped following his two Tests against India in summer 2018.
The Surrey batsman is a prolific scorer in county cricket and is good enough to score runs at this level.
Together with Ben Stokes, who revealed Test technique that is proper but may look to play somewhat more difficult Pope would wish to drive England towards towards 400.
England captain Joe Root got a bit in creating just two off 22 balls stuck. His strategy has changed and is presently making a movement across along with his leg but it was not very fluent, although he did not have much time in the crease at the warm-up match.
And he was bowled to by New Zealand. This is among the very best, a seam bowling strike .
Root is going to be disappointed by it turned out to be a shot to get out to and how he batted, guiding it straight to second slide, but he is a fine player and he’ll come good.
This was the first ever day of Test cricket at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui, and it’s a lovely place.
It is part, part holiday area – there cannot be another Test cricket floor with a salt-processing plant on the border edge.
But it’s very laid back, with people which it is a totally enjoyable place to see cricket.
Jonathan Agnew was talking to BBC Sport’s Jack Skelton.