Stuart Broad puts England in control of New Zealand

Stuart Broad's fine display has put England's cricketers in the driving seat. Picture: Getty
Stuart Broad's fine display has put England's cricketers in the driving seat. Picture: Getty
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It has taken too long but finally England have exerted their dominance over a workmanlike New Zealand team and should, weather permitting, take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Alastair Cook enforced the follow-on, probably aware that the strong winds that frequently torment Wellington are forecast to return and the soothsayers keep promising rain for the drought-blighted area but England, especially the bowlers, will hope to finish the job that Stuart Broad started so excellently. He has suffered in recent times. A succession of injuries, the most recent being a bruised heel pad, resulted in a loss of form and, subsequently, confidence. The natural effervescence that sportsmen possess was missing. He looked forlorn. Then, on the final day of the first Test, he rediscovered some vim and vigour. He continued that here, bowling with pace, occasional menace and real skill on a pitch that looks wonderful for batting.

His pace has been consistently around 85mph, which is a little slower than his fastest but still swift enough for batsmen to fail to adjust. Added to the difficulties his height creates for batsmen in picking length and the steep bounce he can generate from short of a length, he should really be a most awkward opponent. Interestingly his most dangerous deliveries are fuller length as he does swing the ball and batsmen can be trapped on the crease, pushing their bat forward rather than their feet and body. That certainly did for Ross Taylor, an absolute beauty which clipped off stump. Broad, right, finished with six first-innings wickets, which would have been a huge relief for him and the England management. There is a lot of cricket in the next 12 months and the workloads for the bowlers could be daunting. England need six or seven frontline seamers fit and on form so this resurgence of Broad is very welcome.

The one who was unlucky was James Anderson. He bowled beautifully and, on another day, would have taken four or five wickets but, instead, finished with two, the same number as a rather lacklustre and fortunate Steven Finn. Cricket can be a cruel game.

Brendon McCullum must think so. He won the toss, inserted and now has the indignity of his team following-on. They nearly avoided it as he and BJ Watling combined but Broad would not be denied.

England need to stop bowling short to McCullum. He pulls and hooks powerfully and the majority of his 69 came from short balls. The bowlers combined well as a unit but sometimes their pre-conceived plans can look a little silly.

Monty Panesar is another who needs to learn to adapt more quickly to the vagaries of each pitch. He is quite quick for a spinner but some pitches, this one included, demand a slower, more flighted offering if the ball is to grip the pitch and spin.

Graeme Swann’s operation in the US went well, though, so that is more good news for England. From Dunedin to here they should be happy, a Test match to win and two key men, Broad and Swann, recovering well.