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England v New Zealand Mini-Report Card, Day One

England v New Zealand Mini-Report Card, Day One
By Dan Liebke • Issue #35 • View online
I love watching Test cricket from England in the middle of winter. 8pm start, glass of wine, settled on the couch, safely hiding away from the wintry Melbourne nights and watching the greatest sport of them all.
So, sleep deprivation pending, I plan to do report cards on each day’s play of the England v New Zealand Test series. They’ll be over on my Patreon for the most part, and you’ll be able to access them for just a couple of dollars (or pounds or what have you) a month. (Heck, if you really like, you can probably sign up, read them all and cancel before the end of the month and not pay a cent. Life hack!)
Regardless, here’s the first one for free.

The Shane Warne Commentary Box
Before play began, there was a ceremony renaming the Lord’s commentary box in honour of Shane Warne, and the unveiling of a mural. Not the classic mural, of course, which I think is now an NFT that hackers have stolen and reimagined as a celebrity-laden BBQ overrun by bored apes disrupting the poker game, stealing the VB and throwing shit all over Angelina Jolie.
A tale of two murals
A tale of two murals
The mural wasn’t the only tribute to Warne, of course. New captain Ben Stokes and the England bowlers also conspired in an attempt to bowl only 23 overs in the first session of the match, to honour Warne’s number. They just missed out, clumsily squeezing in a twenty-fourth, but the crowd applauded heartily for their efforts, anyway.
Jonny Bairstow’s Hands
One reason for England’s dreadful over rate was the fact they kept taking wickets. A thundering nuisance to everybody involved, I can assure you.
Jimmy Anderson, a man so old that he once took the wicket of Jimmy Maher, started the carnage when he dismissed Will Young, caught in the slips by Jonny Bairstow. Jimmy Anderson, Young no longer.
Bairstow continued to take catches, including the second and third of the innings, presumably willing all edges to come to him under the mistaken belief that he was still the keeper. Great posturing and something that Ben Foakes will have to monitor.
Stokes responded to Bairstow’s belligerent catching by throwing five other slips into the cordon. At first you think ‘wasteful captaincy’, but then you realise it was almost certainly a ploy to give the side a wee laugh during the lunch break by tricking Brendon McCullum into saying ‘six slips’ in a New Zealand accent. That’s when you realise that leadership has many facets.
Eventually, debutant seamer and former Happy Days character Matt ‘Pottsie’ Potts was given the ball. Furthermore, Stokes encouraged him to bowl with it, which is the kind of leadership that many younglings respond to in the modern era.
Potts swiftly had his first wicket - Kane Williamson caught behind - on his way to a Bolandesque 4/13. Hard to pan Potts for that effort, but it should be pointed out that at no point did he entice an edged catch to Bairstow. So clearly not the finished product yet.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Dan Liebke

Every Friday, I go through my big list of cricket ideas, and churn out a first draft of something I've got in there. It won't be polished. It may not be interesting. I make no promises. But I'm going to throw something up and see what works and what (infinitely more likely) does not.

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