This test was full of long passages of play devoured by test match purists, and completely alienating to those who aren’t. The pitch dictated that run rates would be slow, it was cold, and a lot of the body language in the middle seemed to be very understated. And it got cut off when all three results were possible.
On top of this, there were some strange moments in the test; umpires wearing gloves, an absurd ban on prams, and the ground being evacuated due to a fire alarm going off. In the past, a fire at test cricket in Dunedin was mandatory.
Throughout the four days the test was one big arm wrestle with neither side being able to gain clear dominance. These were the brief moments when a side had a nose in front.
South Africa 22/3. If Elgar had been caught behind soon after…
South Africa 252/4. With Elgar and Bavuma set, looking to grind out a score in excess of 400. Finally Wagner got his old school buddy, and de Kock is Patel’s bunny. 308 seemed about par.
New Zealand 117/1 The platform was set, but it was still a long way to go
New Zealand 193/5. Effectively 193/6 with the assumption at the time that Taylor would take no further part in the test. But Watling was to score his first test 50 in 13 innings, and the hosts eeked out a 33 run lead.
South Africa 39/2 (nett 6/2). It was cold and dark, and the ball was swinging. But missed catches and some patchy DRS work meant that the advantage was not to be capitalised on.
There was a moral victory of sorts for New Zealand in that South Africa never pushed for the win on Day Four. This seemed a strange lack of ambition, especially given Boult’s absence after tea. Traditionally, the metaphor of circling the wagon wheels has been an Afrikaner trait, but this Rainbow Team has bought into it completely.
Ultimately it was a gutsy performance from New Zealand throughout. Many times they have hung on in a test match, only to let it slip as the test progressed. You can’t control the weather but it was such a shame to see a test so delicately poised cut short. Chances to beat South Africa don’t come around often.
There are still issues with the make-up of the side, and the injury to Taylor makes the holes even bigger. That is not confined to batting either; and a new slip cordon needs to be worked out as a priority.