Alastair Cook in form as England dominate New Zealand

 

Second Test, Headingley (day three, close):

England 354 & 116-1 v New Zealand 174

Match scorecard

England all but guaranteed a series victory by dominating New Zealand on the third day of the second Test at Headingley, even as opener Nick Compton failed again.

The hosts bowled out the Black Caps for 174 in 43 overs for a first-innings lead of 180, with Graeme Swann taking 4-42, before captain Alastair Cook surprisingly opted not to enforce the follow-on.

Cook then struck a breezy 88 not out as England - 354 all out in their first innings - reached 116-1 by the close, stretching their lead to 296.

But the skipper's fluency bore stark contrast to the painstaking efforts of opening partner Compton, who fell to part-time spinner Kane Williamson for a 45-ball seven to give more ammunition to those calling for him to be dropped for the Ashes.

Compton's last six Test innings

Nick Compton
  • 13 & 2 v NZ, 3rd Test, Auckland
  • 16 & 15 v NZ, 1st Test, Lord's
  • 1 & 7 v NZ, 2nd Test, Headingley

Compton, who had scored 54 runs in his last six Test innings, had been granted another chance to find his touch by Cook's decision not to enforce the follow-on despite New Zealand falling 24 short of a target deficit reduced from 200 to 150 because of Friday's washout.

With more rain expected on Tuesday, Cook might have been expected to ask the tourists to bat again to boost his team's chances of victory but with the hosts already 1-0 ahead in the two-match series, he chose the safer option.

Cook then batted with great freedom to reach his 30th Test fifty off 63 balls, helping himself to four fours in the space of seven balls from left-arm seamer Neil Wagner.

Jonathan Trott added a rather painstaking unbeaten 11 from 69 balls.

Despite a side strain ruling out New Zealand strike bowler Trent Boult after just two overs, Compton appeared riddled with tension as he struggled to get the ball off the square.

And after being stuck on seven runs for 22 balls, he prodded forward to Williamson and was caught at short leg.

Umpire Steve Davis granted Compton a stay of execution by failing to spot a thick edge onto the pad, but New Zealand successfully reviewed the decision and Compton traipsed off rubbing his eyes in anguish.

The Somerset batsman will now watch anxiously on Monday to see if Jonny Bairstow can produce another innings of substance to add to his first-innings 64.

Should Kevin Pietersen make his expected return from injury for the Ashes series, starting on 10 July, either Compton or Bairstow will have to make way.

Test Match Special analysis

"I was very surprised England didn't enforce the follow-on. They bowled them out in 44 overs this afternoon, while New Zealand were bowled out cheaply at Lord's and look like they don't know where their next run's coming from. Any bowler worth his salt would have been queueing up to have a bowl at them."

At the start of the day, England had lost their final three wickets for the addition of only 17 runs, with Boult completing a five-wicket haul.

New Zealand carried the momentum into their batting as openers Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton put on a fifty partnership in 74 balls to lay the foundations for a decent total.

Steven Finn had other ideas. The 6 ft 7 in Middlesex paceman, a mere bystander when James Anderson and Stuart Broad bundled out the Kiwis for 68 in England's 170-run win at Lord's, surprised Fulton with some steep bounce and claimed a simple return catch from the resultant leading edge.

Two more wickets followed either side of lunch as Rutherford had a thick outside edge caught by Ian Bell in the gully and Ross Taylor dragged one onto his stumps.

Exploiting the rough left by the batsman's foot-holes, Swann reprised his habit of taking a wicket in his first over as Dean Brownlie was bowled through the gate.

Two more wickets followed in the off-spinner's second over. Martin Guptill was castled in similar fashion by another turning delivery and Williamson was out lbw after a successful England review to leave the Kiwi innings in tatters on 82-6.

To their credit, New Zealand's tailenders gave the scorecard a modicum of respectability, with Tim Southee scoring 19 and Boult hitting Swann for three straight sixes in a last-wicket stand of 52 with Neil Wagner (27).

Match scorecard