England v New Zealand: second Test, day five – live!

There’s bit a lot of controversy recently – and rightly so – about how much it costs to attend a Test match. So well done Nottinghamshire for making today’s entry free – it’s just a shame it’s not half-term, but I hope some parents are homeschooling today.

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Just watching some highlights, I missed Mark Butcher calling Root “The unstoppable run machine”. Lovely stuff.

I enjoyed this.

It’s mad to think really, it wasn’t just that the others were in better nick than Root, it looked like they’d left behind, for good. Remember when he couldn’t convert fifties into hundreds? And now look!

Preamble

Waking up in the middle of the night and feeling that feeling without knowing why; the brain catching up with the body, both suddenly ablaze with possibilities, unable to rest; the spring in the step. You just cannot beat this thing of ours.

There’s a Yiddish word, gevaldig, which – unusually for Yiddish – doesn’t refer to pain, emotional incontinence or, er, body-parts. Rather, it means tremendous, amazing and stupendous all mixed – with, I like to think, an element of spiritual uplift. Test cricket is gevaldig.

And there’s another Yiddish word, mechayeh, which means a rare pleasure – with, I like to think, an affirming aspect for which it’s worth being alive. Arriving at day five of a Test match with all four results possible and no serious inkling as to which of them will eventuate is a mechayeh.

By my admittedly shonky calculations, this makes what we’re about to enjoy a gevaldig mechayeh. Given such things don’t come around all that often, it is incumbent upon us to savour this one.

The likeliest outcome remains the draw because ultimately, neither side has quite enough firepower to force themselves home on a pitch doing not quite enough. Yesterday morning, we noted that were it not for the quantity of dropped catches, first-innings scores would’ve been much lower, but by yesterday evening those had been more or less evened out by how assiduously unnecessarily New Zealand tossed away wickets. Nevertheless, sensible batting this morning should take them to safety.

And yet, and yet, and yet. England are perfectly capable of thrashing their way to almost any target they might be set, just as they are of collapsing under the weight of runs they need now, never mind in an hour or two – and that’s before we factor in brilliance of Trent Boult. I can’t wait and neither can you.

Play: 11am BST

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