Welcome to The Data Day, our cricket statistics blog for 2021-22. Here we use data to try to understand what just happened and why. And when we can’t, we ask our models what they think.
June 10, first day
New Zealand 318-4
England’s new era under Brendon McCullum-Ben Stokes got off to a perfect start at Lord’s last week. A five-wicket win in the first Test of the series was their first win in eight matches, and a win in that second Test will give them back-to-back victories in the Men’s Test for the first time since February 2021.
Before a ball was thrown, our cricket simulation model had the home team as 48.2% favourites, New Zealand at 41.2% and a draw at 10.6%.
But after an opening position of 84 between Will Young and Tom Latham – the highest opening partnership in a Test match at Trent Bridge since 2005 – it looked like a good shot for New Zealand to lose. The pitch had a good even pace and bounced around, and the conditions didn’t offer much in the way of swing.
Despite five straight single-digit scores, Young looked smooth and positive. Latham sought to attack poor deliveries. And by the time the pair had made 84 points together, the live odds had flipped. New Zealand were now in the box at 59.6%, with England falling to 23.4%. The model also predicted that the Black Caps would score 350.
But within the space of two balls, England hit back. First, Stokes fired Young, the right-handed fly-half closing out a slide delivery where a Zak Crawley dive took a superb low hold. Next it was Latham, cheating on a shot from James Anderson and getting caught mid-wicket by a sprawling Matthew Potts.
After those two quick wickets, the outcome of the scheduled match swung again, with New Zealand still favorites (47.7%), but only marginally (England 43.6%).
Henry Nicholls and Devon Conway came together to put in a quick 77, before Stokes again played the partnership breaker, drawing a Nicholls advantage into the gloves of Ben Foakes.
As in the morning session, one wicket brought another, with Anderson suppressing Conway just four from his 50.
Now England’s catch was superb in the first Test match, making up for their 13 chances. But their old shortcomings were still visible, with Crawley dropping a strong chance from Nicholls and Joe Root dropping a regulation advantage from Mitchell. It’s something England have really struggled with in recent years. Of the 11 teams that have played Test cricket since the start of 2021, England are seventh in catch rate (76%), which McCullum – a brilliant defender himself – will want to improve on.
But Lord’s centurion Mitchell continued to punish England for letting him down, taking a particular interest in Jack Leach. Scoring rates were vastly different from the Lord’s Test, admittedly, but in his first six overs Leach was hit for more boundaries (5) than substitute Matt Parkinson was in the entire first Test.
There were other opportunities in England begging, notably after they took the second new ball when Bairstow and Crawley both gave Tom Blundell an advantage for the other man to rip some air out. To say that Stuart Broad was unhappy to see his work go unrewarded is an understatement. The day ended with the Mitchell/Blundell partnership on the 149, a sleek rescue that put New Zealand in the driving seat, early but solid favorites to level the series.
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