Lions take control

Sunday 8th March 2009

Christchurch, second day:

England Lions 346 (Wright 69, Patel 64, Batty 64) & 56-0 (Moore 29*, Key 25*)
New Zealand A 243 (Young 71, Thompson 60; Davies 4-47, Batty 3-51)

By Charles Randall at Lincoln University

ROB KEY’S England Lions took a grip on the second Test with a 103-run
lead on first innings and plenty of time to defeat New Zealand A in

Mark Davies (pictured), an unsung seam-bowler outside the county circuit,
finished with four wickets for 47 off 13 overs — all top-rate batsmen
— and his skill left the New Zealanders with little chance of winning
the match.

Davies, from Durham, continued to outbowl more illustrius team-mates,
and his figures would have been even more impressive if a dolly catch
had not been spurned at mid-off and if his two overs after tea had not
disappeared for 16 runs — his only spell with the wind behind him.

Lions ensured that the home side’s five Test batsmen had days to
forget. Aaron Redmond made a duck, edging a beauty from Davies to
third slip where Luke Wright held the catch. Jamie How soon followed,
edging a defensive shot to gully for one run, 189 fewer than he had
scored in his previous innings in the drawn Test at Queenstown.

Davies continued to unsettle the batting with his clever use of pace,
length and line, backed up by an ability to move the ball. Daniel
Flynn spooned a drive to mid-off where unaccountably Gareth Batty
floored the catch, but Davies struck again when Peter Fulton was
tempted into a drive that offered only a thin edge to wicketkeeper Ben

The Gloucestershire and New Zealand all-rounder James Franklin,
unlucky to miss a century at Queenstown, then skewed an intended big
hit to Key at mid-on, and Davies had picked up four wickets for a
song, with score on 59 for five — big trouble for the home side and
similar to the Lions progress the previous day.

But New Zealand failed to match the Lions’ strong recovery.
Wicketkeeper Reece Young survived a hair-raising start, twice dropped
on nought by Wright at third slip off Liam Plunkett. Several more
edges evaded the slip cordon before he found his form with a laudable
71, backed up by Ewen Thompson’s 50-ball fifty. Wright’s two chances
were tricky, the first arriving fast at an awkward height and the
second bursting high through his hands.

The day was simply a levelling experience for Wright after his
first-day 69, an innings he could seldom have bettered in view of the
tense circumstances. With the ball he was punished for inaccuracy
mostly by Young, a man emjoying a third lfe and returning to haunt

Young was eventually bowled when Batty floated an off-spinner through
an attacking shot, and Sajid Mahmood picked up two tail-end wickets in
two balls, the first through a lovely low catch at first slip by
Jonathan Trott.

Batty said: "It was unforgiveable to drop that catch, but
unfortunately it happens. As a group I thought we stuck to our task
pretty well on a very good pitch. ’Davo’ started off magnificantly
well and everybody else did their job. As a group we complement each
other pretty well."

Picture courtesy of Getty Images