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Night owls rewarded by post-tea action

Posted in England

Nick Compton

Each of Nick Compton's two Test tons were completed in the wee small hours for those watching in the UK

Overseas tours inevitably lead to dilemmas for cricket lovers hoping to keep up with their side’s performances from home.

When your team is playing on the other side of the world - as is currently the case with England in New Zealand - then a particularly difficult decision has to be made regarding how many night-time hours can be devoted to sitting in front of the TV or radio (or indeed your laptop/tablet/smartphone - let no-one say ecb.co.uk is not in touch with the modern generation).

Let’s consider the ongoing Test series between Alastair Cook’s men and the Black Caps. Each day’s play is scheduled to begin at 9:30pm GMT - barring adjustments due to lost overs or unsuitable weather conditions - with the action continuing until at least 4:30am.

That would appear to make the morning session fairly accessible for a large percentage of people, and I’m sure many have been able to hang in until tea, typically taken at 2:10am.

However, unless you are lucky enough to be working night shifts, or nocturnal, seeing out an entire day is likely to prove too much to ask, especially if work, school or an alternative engagement awaits the next morning.

As it happens, those who did not witness the final session of day three in Wellington hardly missed out on anything spectacular as New Zealand, following on, progressed steadily to 77 for one from 33 overs.

Yet the previous six days of Test action on this tour - we’ll ignore the series-opening washout in Dunedin - had provided plenty of post-tea thrills and spills to frustrate those forced into opting for sleep.

After England had been cheaply dismissed on day two of the opening match, the evening session saw the emergence of New Zealand opener Hamish Rutherford, who went on to mark his Test debut with 171 runs.

Further rain and bad light cut proceedings short 24 hours later, but those staying up in the UK for the end of day four were rewarded with the glorious sight of Nick Compton bringing up a maiden Test ton, soon after Cook had reached three figures yet again.

The subsequent heroics of England nightwatchman Steven Finn - aka ‘The Watford Wall’ - looked to have put paid to any drama at the conclusion of the game. However, when Finn and Joe Root fell in quick succession at the start of the fifth evening, there were a few nervy moments before Ian Bell and Matt Prior led the tourists to safety.

Then, this week, there were once again twin centuries to celebrate in a final session as Compton and Jonathan Trott extended their second-wicket stand beyond 200 on day one at the Basin Reserve.

Stuart Broad and James Anderson combined to give England further success as stumps approached on Friday (Thursday night for UK viewers).

With all this in mind, I probably should recommend you make a concerted effort to keep your eyelids open as long as possible for the rest of the series.

However, given that the remnants of Cyclone Sandra are expected to hit Wellington late on day four, it may be best to store up your coffee for next week’s final game in Auckland. Who knows what you might miss if you don’t?

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