England sit at 216-5 heading into day four with the new ball 15 overs away for New Zealand; Joe Root (77th) is just 23 shy of reaching 10,000 trial runs and could reach the milestone in the morning session; watch day four of the first test from 10:15am Sunday on Sky Sports Cricket
Nasser Hussain believes England have a slight edge over New Zealand heading into day four of the first Test as the New Zealanders face the prospect of opening the day’s game with an old ball.
England secured a flurry of wickets in the opening session of day three with the new ball, Stuart Broad aided by Ollie Pope’s direct strike, taking three on three balls.
However, for Hussain, the likelihood of New Zealand emulating that in the opening session on day four is much lower due to the fact that they use a much older, softer ball that those lower down in the order can adapt to, the new ball is still 15 overs away.
“It goes one way and then the other. The last two days have had a similar pattern, once the ball gets soft, the middle order and the lower order can survive,” Hussain said.
“The only difference between today and tomorrow is that England had that new ball and New Zealand won’t have it tomorrow morning.
“It’s been a new ball pitch and both sides have been struggling with that new ball.
“Once Stokes is gone, sometimes you think I have to be here, I have to be here tomorrow, I’m arguably the best Test Match batsman in the world at the moment, I’ll just carry on.
“Root said I have tired bowlers, an old ball, they’ve changed it and this one isn’t doing it.
“Right up to his last ball, he got a bouncer and he still took it out.
“I thought Root was very aware of the game.
“I would rather be in the England camp because of the old ball, but New Zealand have shown us that they will be there fighting hard until the last race, but I would rather be in that England camp.”
Hussain is not alone in his belief that England’s task of finding 61 more runs to earn a first Test win is aided by the old ball, and Michael Atherton agrees England have gained an advantage in that area. .
He said: “The racing hasn’t been easy in this game, has it?
“We hadn’t seen half a century until Tom Blundell scored one yesterday and Daryl Mitchell did the same.
“Gradually, it looks like the conditions have eased a little bit because we’ve had another one from Ben Stokes and from Joe Root, but it’s still a game of tweezers and tucks because of that tail from England.”
“Matt Potts is after Broad, Anderson, Parkinson.
“So while I think England have their noses up front, New Zealand will go to bed knowing that if they get an early wicket tomorrow they are still very much in the game.”
“The New Zealand bowlers will come out refreshed but they are still a long way from that new ball and that is to England’s advantage.”
While England’s focus will be on victory tomorrow, it could also mark a special moment for Root, who needs just 23 more races to join Alastair Cook in 10,000 races for his country.
Despite what could be a historic moment for Root on the horizon, Atherton believes the former England captain will be much more focused on helping his team to their first Test victory.
“He’s only got one goal in mind tomorrow and that’s the winning goal,” Atherton said.
“If that 10,000th run comes in the process of winning the game, that will be a fantastic achievement.
“If he gets it tomorrow, he’ll be exactly the same age as Alastair Cook. What a strange coincidence.”