England are the number two ranked test cricketing nation in the current ICC rankings, and for good reason. What sets them apart from the majority of teams (bar South Africa) is their uncanny ability to dig themselves out of a rather uncompromising hole. Going into the fourth day at Dunedin New Zealand had over 400 on the board in reply to England’s embarrassing first innings ‘effort’.
Having eventually declared with a lead of 290 runs, New Zealand must have thought they would never have a better chance to beat England. This however soon became an uphill task, the way the England openers stifled their bowling attack was unbelievably efficient. Captain Cook, as we are now so accustomed to, played with uncompromising ease; putting the bad balls away when they came about and played the good balls well and truly on their merit.
His fellow opener Nick Compton came into this series with a huge question mark levitating over his head, this was only intensified after playing onto his own stumps first innings for a duck. This innings however was full of international class. Much like Cook, he played each ball on merit on his way to a maiden test century. It certainly wasn’t a Pietersen-esque innings but Compton showed all the key qualities required to be a successful test match opener. Despite starting off relatively suspect, playing and missing at a number of deliveries, Compton soon got into his groove and played a number of eye catching strokes, none more so than his apparent trade mark drive through the covers off the back foot.
Having put on a record breaking opening stand of well over 200 against New Zealand, both openers have more than done their respective jobs and have given England a wonderful opportunity to bat out the final day; tire out the NZ bowlers and keep their bowlers relaxed, especially with the second test match coming up only three days after. Cook was dismissed by the workmanlike Boult near the end of the day but England will be absolutely thrilled with the positive they now find themselves in.