18th over: England 124-1 (Bairstow 54, Root 1) “I moved to NZ in 2014,” says Alex Webster. “Since then I’ve seen England dumped out of the group stages at three different World Cups, including being in the stadium with my (extremely drunk) cricket team when we got pumped in Wellington. I’m now sat at the bottom of the South Island, withstanding a Fiordland winter, mentally high fiving every well run two with a bristling intensity. I NEED this!”
WICKET! England 123-1 (Roy c Santner b Neesham 60)
Roy has gone! After pulling consecutive boundaries off Neesham, he check-drove the next ball straight to Santner at short extra cover. It was a loose stroke and Roy was angry with himself as he walks off; he knows he is leaving a few runs out there. But his swaggering 61-ball 60 has given England a great start.
18th over: England 115-0 (Roy 52, Bairstow 54) Tim Southee replaces Santner. He bowled a poor first spell (2-0-23-0), although in his defence it’s his first game of the tournament so he cannot be without rust. His first over back is a low-key affair; four singles from it.
17th over: England 111-0 (Roy 50, Bairstow 52) Roy wins the race to a half-century, working the new bowler Jimmy Neesham for a single. That’s the seventh time in the last eight innings that he has reached fifty. Bairstow joins him later in the over with a work off the pads for two. He’s played particularly well this morning: 46 balls, nine fours. That’s drinks.
16th over: England 107-0 (Roy 49, Bairstow 49) A quite over from Santner; three singles from it. Roy and Bairstow are yet to hit a six – there are no short boundaries today – but they have hit 15 fours between them.
15th over: England 104-0 (Roy 47, Bairstow 48) The medium-pacer Colin de Grandhomme comes into the attack, or rather the defence. His first over goes for 11. Bairstow steers the second ball to third man for four, a single for Roy brings up another rapid hundred partnership and then Bairstow repeats his earlier boundary. It’s worth dusting off an old stat: of the 124 openers who have scored 1000 runs in ODIs. Bairstow and Roy have the highest strike rate.
Meanwhile, here’s my colleague Daniel Harris “Is de Grandhomme the greatest Colin since…”
14th over: England 93-0 (Roy 45, Bairstow 39) Roy makes room to crash Santner through extra cover for four, a quite brutal shot. Seven from the over, which makes it 25 from the last three after that slightly quiet spell.
“I feel sick even though I’m not watching the game on TV here in Slovenia yet,” says Karen. “I have to rely on husband Spike to do all the necessary technical stuff & he doesn’t feel the urgency like me! I adore cricket, my Dad was a huge fan & I used to think it was soooo boring, but since Flintoff I’ve been hooked.”
13th over: England 86-0 (Roy 39, Bairstow 38) That’s the shot of the morning from Bairstow, a glorious drive for four that goes between the legs of Roy at the non-striker’s end. It’s been another excellent start for England on what looks like a belter.
“In response to Simon McMahon (over 9), we were at London St Pancras station on Sat morning at 7.30am on our way to watch the MLB at the London Stadium,” says Andy Beardsley. “We were on coffee but there was a chap sat behind us who ordered two pints for himself for breakfast. I assume he had a good day!”
You should have come and said hello.
12th over: England 78-0 (Roy 36, Bairstow 33) Santner returns to the attack in place of Boult, and Roy thwacks his second ball inside out over extra cover for a one-bounce four. Southee ran round from long off but it was a safe shot. A handful of ones and twos make it a good over for England.
“I have a day full of meetings, which means analysing charts, graphs and spreadsheets, obligatory PowerPoint presentations, and maybe some light arguing,” boasts Matt Dony. “Normally, obviously, this ticks all my boxes, but today I’m very frustrated at not being able to follow the match. I’m hoping that the next time I check the score, it’ll be a very big number followed by a very small number. Say, 350 for two? Is that too much to ask? Really?”
Who cares about the smaller number? For all I care, England can be 400 for 47.
11th over: England 68-0 (Roy 27, Bairstow 32) An accurate over from Henry also brings only one run. Bairstow played a few crisp drives without piercing the field. New Zealand have pulled this back quite well, with the last six overs going for 24.
10th over: England 67-0 (Roy 26, Bairstow 32) England are handling Boult with care unless it’s a rank bad ball. One from the over, which gives Boult decent figures of 5-0-19-0. He also received an official warning for running on the pitch from the umpire S Ravi.
9th over: England 66-0 (Roy 25, Bairstow 32) Roy top-edges a pull over the keeper’s head for four The ball disappears under the covers on the boundary edge, and there’s a delay of around two minutes before the New Zealand wicketkeeper Tom Latham finds it – and receives the biggest cheer of the morning.
“Morning Rob,” says Simon McMahon. “Dave Voss need not worry. Drinking at 10am in London (for this Scotsman anyway) is compulsory. Cheers. And cards on the table, I want England to go through but it would be quite good fun for me personally if they lose today and have to rely on Bangladesh on Friday when I’ll be watching at Lord’s, although I realise this scenario will not be universally popular with England fans.”
I always enjoy your emails, Simon. But you can go off people you know.
8th over: England 59-0 (Roy 19, Bairstow 31) A short ball from Boult is pulled viciously through midwicket for four by Roy. There’s no swing now, which is very good news for England. At the moment this is a below average partnership Bairstow and Roy; of the 53 opening partnerships who have added at least 1000 runs in ODIs, their average of 68 is the highest.
“Just wanted to ask what a competitive total is one this pitch, 315+?” asks Mohammed Hansrod.
Based on the evidence of the first seven overs, I think England will want 350. But pitches are a foreign language to me, so I’ve no idea.
7th over: England 53-0 (Roy 14, Bairstow 30) After two poor overs, Tim Southee is replaced by Matt Henry. He started the tournament superbly, with seven wickets in the first two games, but since then he has taken one wicket for 185. Bairstow works him for two to bring up an aggressive fifty partnership from only 38 balls. At the moment, New Zealand look like a team who don’t need to win, although a wicket would probably change that.
“Obviously, the unpleasantness you were feeling is down to all that milk in your flat whites,” says John Starbuck. “Do what I do, switch to double espressos all the time. You don’t have to worry about what to choose and the effect lasts longer, so it’s cheaper too.”
It’s a nice idea, but I don’t always react well to espressos.
6th over: England 48-0 (Roy 13, Bairstow 27) Boult beats Bairstow with a lovely delivery that moves away off the seam. The ball has stopped swinging, however, and that allows Bairstow to lace a drive over extra cover for four. That was an emphatic stroke.
“After six years working in the Philippines I’m here with my brother in law, both in some England tops from ‘99 that we swore weren’t this tight!” says Adam Kennedy. “What a beautiful stadium this is! Come on England!”
5th over: England 44-0 (Roy 13, Bairstow 23) Southee has started poorly. He drifts onto the pads of Bairstow, who accepts the offer of bread and butter. That’s the first of three consecutive boundaries from Bairstow, who drives just over Santner at cover before slamming a pull through square leg. He has 23 from 12 balls and England are off to a flyer.
“Morning Rob,” says David Horn. “So, you won the toss with Tom Davies this morning and opted to OBO first. That seems smart to me. Get your comms on the board, let Tom deal with the lower bounce/gripping balls later in the day. Plus, harder to type when your fingernails have been reduced to painful, bloody stumps. Good luck to everyone out there today. Good luck with getting any work done, with maintaining your sanity, with this business of Being A Supporter. We’re gonna need it.”
The best thing is that I lost the toss. When Tom asked to take the second innings, I was like Michael Vaughan at Edgbaston in 2005.
4th over: England 31-0 (Roy 13, Bairstow 10) Boult swings one too far into Roy, and the ball runs away off the pad for four leg-byes. But Roy doesn’t look particularly comfortable against Boult: he mistimes a smear to leg and then misses a big drive at a very wide delivery.
Here’s Mark O’Brien. “Three Englishmen, to Kiwis in a bar on the tropical island of Koh Phangan trying to explain rules of 50-over cricket to local Thai contingent through international sign language & role play.”
So what’s the punchline?
3rd over: England 25-0 (Roy 11, Bairstow 10) Tim Southee, whose swing bowling destroyed England in Wellington four years ago, replaces Mitchell Santner. Bairstow gets off the mark from his third ball, thumping a short ball through extra cover for four. He clouts the next delivery over the off side for four more, although that was a riskier shot from a wide outswinger, and finishes the over with an edge wide of slip for two. It’s been a fast start for England, though New Zealand will be encouraged by the fact the ball is swinging.
“I got an A in maths,” chirps Bob O’Hara. “Just done some quick maths, and if England score 300 and roll NZ over for 100, and then Pakistan also score 300, and roll Bangladesh over for 100, NZ will still go through. I can’t be bothered to work out any details beyond that.”
So what’s an elf?
2nd over: England 15-0 (Roy 11, Bairstow 0) This, as Athers says on Sky, is a key phase of the game. England struggle against left-armers and Trent Boult is a world-class swing bowler. His first ball curves back into the pads of Roy, who survives a biggish LBW appeal. Although it was missing leg stump, that’s a really encouraging start for Boult. With the ball swinging, Roy starts respectfully against Boult, but he is alert enough to put a poor delivery through midwicket for four. He has faced every ball so far.
1st over: England 9-0 (Roy 5, Bairstow 0) Oh my! Santner’s first delivery is a beautiful arm ball that curves into Roy, beats his attempted cut and just misses the leg stump. It races away for four byes, but that could easily have been a first-baller for Roy. He gets off the mark later in the over by slapping a low full toss through the covers. Doom department: as Mike Atherton says on Sky, if the ball is swinging for the spinner, it will surely do so for Trent Boult.
“Very old school choice of Cole Porter lyrics – nice,” says Brian Withington. “First saw George Melly perform it at a British Gas Dinner Dance (!) circa 1980 in an enormous London Hotel ballroom, which he described in his inimitable style as an ‘intimate little boîte’ (to the amusement of those of us with O-level French).”
A British Gas Dinner Dance!
It’s time. The left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner will bowl the first over.
You know it’s a big game when … you have umpteen unread emails before a ball has been bowled. (It’s not as bad as the 2011 semi-final between India and Pakistan, when I had something like 94 unread emails before the toss.) Please keep them coming, even if I’ll struggle to read them all until tonight.
“Are they playing on the same pitch as Sri Lanka v West Indies, who both scored well on Monday?” asks Scott Rutherford.
No, it’s a new pitch and looks full of runs. The swing of Southee and especially Boult is probably England’s main concern.
“Why am I doing this?” says Sam Collier. “I was an absolute wreck on Sunday. I remained that way even while there was only a mathematical chance of India winning. And after England won, as realised I was going to have to go through it all again. Possibly three times. I just need you to tell me it’s going to be okay. Okay?”
Thankfully I’ve been an oasis of calm throughout this World Cup, and the crippling nausea I experienced all day Sunday was purely down to an excess of flat whites.
“Is there are way – other than trawling through the matches, one by one – to find out the percentage of toss wins that England has achieved during this tournament?” asks Sarah Bacon. “Feels excessive.”
They’ve won six out of nine.
Dave Voss is confident. “The Fear,” he says. “I’ve got it. I feel sick and trembling and it’s going to be like this all day isn’t it? Is it cowardly to start drinking at 10am?”
“We’ve finally made it to a match in England again,” writes Eva Maaten. “The Riverside is quite a change from the Wanderers in Joburg, lovely stadium. Witnessed some good-humoured banter between England and NZ fans on the bus to the stadium – it should be an exciting game on the most perfect of all English cricket days, sunny with picture book clouds.”
England are unchanged. New Zealand bring in Matt Henry and Tim Southee for Ish Sodhi and the injured Lockie Ferguson.
England Roy, Bairstow, Root, Morgan (c), Stokes, Buttler (wk), Woakes, Plunkett, Rashid, Archer, Wood.
New Zealand Guptill, Nicholls, Williamson (c), Taylor, Latham (wk), Neesham, de Grandhomme, Santner, Southee, Henry, Boult.
England have won the toss and will bat first
Kane Williamson says he would also have batted.
“On a dark and stormy™ Wellington night, I’m hunkered down and ready for this to get started,” writes my old colleague Paul Cockburn. “I was in the Cake Tin for the monstering NZ gave England in 2015… but down here I think people are nervous England will end the 13k-day streak. The Black Caps have rather lost their way as this compy has unwound, haven’t they?”
A little, mainly because they have too many players out of form. But they are – and I forgot to say this in the preamble – a dangerous team to underestimate.
“Could you put the standings table up pls?” asks Rob Connelly. “I can’t find the link on the Guardian site.”
The things I do for you people.
The New Zealand permutations
- They are through unless they are slaughtered today and Pakistan trounce Bangladesh on Friday. I can’t give you the exact figures because I got a B in GCSE maths, but it is incredibly unlikely.
Some early team news
The ferocious Lockie Ferguson is out with a tight hamstring, which is good news for Eoin Morgan’s hook stroke. Matt Henry or Tim Southee will replace him in the New Zealand side.
Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. But let’s not do it. Please, let’s not underestimate New Zealand. Since England’s stirring win over India on Sunday, there has been an unspoken, possibly unconscious assumption that they have nine toes in the semi-final. It’s dangerous, disrespectful and just plain wrong. England are below New Zealand in the table and have not beaten them at a World Cup for 13,173 days.
Thankfully, any complacency is unlikely to have spread to the England dressing-room. Eoin Morgan is an unashamed Kiwiphile, and England’s journey (sic) to this point started when they were giving the mother of all shellackings at Wellington in the last World Cup.
Under Morgan, England are unlikely to take their eyes off the process. Not today; not when so much is at stake. If they get it right, the prize is a first World Cup semi-final in 1992. If they fail, the post-mortem could take some time. Things are about to get nausea-inducingly real.
The match starts at 10.30am.