England’s bowlers stick dutifully to their task against New Zealand
England’s bowlers stuck dutifully to their task but they could not prise apart the watchful BJ Watling and Mitch Santner on the fourth morning of the first Test against New Zealand.
Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad were nigh-on flawless as they leaked only nine runs between them in the first 11 overs of the day at Mount Maunganui, with two of the three scoring shots coming via outside edges.
But Watling was unflappable as he moved on to a Test-best 148 not out while Santner was proving a capable foil on an unbeaten 55 as New Zealand increased their first innings lead to 99 after going to lunch on 452 for six.
The pair’s sedate occupation of the crease was deeply impressive – Watling had faced 386 balls while Santner had taken up 195 deliveries – as they soaked up everything England could throw at them.
While Watling’s near nine-hour knock has almost certainly ended any hope England had of a win, the Black Caps’ wicketkeeper-batsman has shown the tourists how to approach their second innings.
There were a couple of eye-catching punches, both off the back and front foot, but his first runs of the day as he resumed on 119 not out from New Zealand’s 394 for six came with a squirted edge through gully off Archer.
Archer pointedly opened the bowling, having not done so yesterday, alongside Stuart Broad and although the pair dried up the runs – there were seven successive maidens at one stage – they could not make a breakthrough.
Santner wafted at Broad and was fortunate to see the ball fly over the slips as only 19 runs were taken in the first hour, but there were few alarms after that, even once England had taken the second new ball.
Santner’s fifty took up 170 balls before Watling overhauled his previous Test best of 142 not out as another attritional session wound to a close.
Watling was unable to duck out of the way of an Archer bumper and was clattered in the back of the helmet, but he ended the session by cutting the paceman – operating at 90mph – away to the boundary from the final ball before lunch.