HARRY BROOK has produced several innings of brilliance with the bat in his short Test career.
But he conjured up the key moment on day four of the Second Test – with the ball.
Harry Brook’s delivery saw New Zealand lose Kane Williamson
With New Zealand threatening to pile up enough runs to take the game completely away from England, captain Ben Stokes – in a moment of desperation or inspiration, depending on your view, tossed the ball to Brook.
England’s attack was almost on its knees with Stuart Broad not allowed to bowl because he had been off the field for 20 minutes after tea and Jimmy Anderson having treatment.
Brook barely bowls in the nets and looked surprised to be asked to turn over his arm.
He sent down one of his gentle seamers at no more than 65mph and New Zealand’s master batsman Kane Williamson aimed a legside glance.
Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes did not even appeal and only Joe Root at mid-wicket reckoned he heard something.
At the last second, Stokes called for a review and the TV replays showed that Williamson had feathered the faintest of edges into Foakes’ gloves. And the original “not out” decision was overturned.
It was just the ninth first-class wicket of Brook’s career.
Williamson departed for 132 following a sixth-wicket stand of 158 with Tom Blundell and the Black Caps’ innings folded rapidly after that as they descended from 455-5 to 483 all out.
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Blundell was the last man dismissed for 90, giving left-arm spinner Jack Leach a fifth wicket as he sent down a marathon 61.3 overs.
Another wicket appeared out of nothing when all-rounder Michael Bracewell was run out because he committed the schoolboy error of not running in his bat as Stokes threw the ball in from the boundary.
It took England 162.3 overs to work their way through New Zealand’s second innings and they were finally set 258 to win.
If they manage it, England will have won seven Tests on the trot and 11 out of 12 since Stokes became permanent captain.
By the close, England had reached 48-1 with Zak Crawley the man dismissed. England even sent in Ollie Robinson as an orthodox nightwatchman rather than Stuart Broad as the “Nighthawk”.
Crawley and Ben Duckett made a positive start to England’s run chase, just as you would expect, but Crawley was bowled by a ripping nip-backer from Kiwi captain Tim Southee.
It leaves the match tantalisingly poised with one day to go – but you know England will not hang around pursuing the 210 runs they now need.
Spinner Leach said: “The final day is going to be very exciting and I can’t wait. We bowled some long spells, which was tough because the pitch has flattened out.
“Stokesy kept me going – he was very supportive. And Brooky is very pleased with his first Test wicket. It was something different, something they weren’t expecting.
“There was nothing to lose in that situation – a case of seeing what happens and it worked.
“We know how we’ll go about things going for the runs – we’ll be positive and try to entertain the crowd.”
Jack Leach took the wicket of Tom Blundell