Graham Thorpe calls on England batsmen to redeem themselves in the second innings
England’s batsmen face a tough task to try to save the first Test – weather permitting.
England’s ‘shell-shocked’ batsmen are being told they still have a chance to redeem themselves in the first Test against New Zealand.
It is batting coach Graham Thorpe’s task to ready England for some much-needed defiance over the last two days of the series opener as their hosts scent victory, despite the rain, after bowling them out for just 58 in their first innings.
Only 17 balls were possible on day three at Eden Park, to add to 23.1 overs on the second, robbing the Kiwis of the opportunity to extend their yawning advantage.
But after Henry Nicholls (52no) had nonetheless completed his painstaking half-century in a total of 233 for four, for a lead of 175, Thorpe and his fellow coaches must restore England’s self-belief.
Asked if Joe Root’s team were shell-shocked after being shot out by Trent Boult and Tim Southee in just 20.4 overs on the first morning, Thorpe said: “Yes, there is a lot of (that).
“You’re playing for your country and you get rocked over like that – it dents your pride.
“But you can’t feel sorry for yourself for too long because the next day is coming. You can’t just run into the hills or hide under the bed.”
Thorpe is not above referencing his own relevant experience as a former England batsman who was part of the 1993/94 collapse to 46 all out in Trinidad but also helped to win the following Test against West Indies’ brilliant pace attack.
“I know how you feel lads – don’t worry about it!” he said, with a half-smile.
“The mind is the most important thing, so my life experience can come into play a bit.
“Technique is one thing, but actually most important is getting your head back into the battle of the match.
“We’ve still got quite a lot of work to do in this Test match, but they can redeem themselves by putting in a top-class performance in the second innings.
“That is what it will have to be to get out of this Test match.”
He still has faith.
“There is enough character in that dressing-room, and they have been through experiences before as well, and you have to dust yourself down and get on with the next day.
“The rain has helped us a little bit but we have to bat a damn sight better than we did.”
Thorpe has been careful to strike a balance which does not over-load with mid-match technical advice.
“It is a tough thing to sit on people’s shoulders and peck away in their ear telling them what to do.
Sometimes these things happen. They shake up the dressing-room and they shake up the individuals as well, and we hope we get a response second innings. England batting coach Graham Thorpe
“They are international players and for the amount of times and the amount of experience our lads have against the moving ball you would like to think that, while not everyone will come to grips with it, you would get a couple of partnerships in that situation.”
On Thursday, it did not work out like that.
“Sometimes these things happen. They shake up the dressing-room and they shake up the individuals as well, and we hope we get a response second innings,” added Thorpe.
“Maybe with a bit of the weather around, it has given the guys a bit of a glimmer in the match itself.
“With two days to go, we still have a chance.”
Southee, meanwhile, is understandably just hoping the rain relents.
“The rain’s been frustrating, but the work we did on day one has made that easier to swallow. (It’s) lucky the game is advanced,” he said.
“It was a great day, a bizarre day that we can sit back and enjoy.”