England cricketers clock up thousands upon thousands of miles of travel every year.
Long-haul flights, connections, buses; you name it – travelling for the England Cricket Team is second nature.
Given most players take up to four or five bats on a long tour plus all the other equipment needed, international cricketers have luggage sizes and baggage allowances down to a tee.
Now, if only England travelled as well on the field as they do off it.
Heading into the first Test of the two-match affair against the Kiwis at Auckland on Thursday, England have lost eight out of their past 10 Tests away from home – drawing the other two.
Miserable 4-0 thumpings at the hands of Australia in the recent Ashes series and India early last year have shown the Three Lions, of late, to have the worst possible jet lag and travel sickness.
England’s record at home is largely dominatable, particularly since 2012. In this period, they boast a 23-11 win-loss ratio – including includes two Ashes triumphs.
Indeed, England’s last defeat at home came, rather unluckily, to Sri Lanka in a short-lived two-match affair which concluded at Headingley in the early part of the 2014 summer.
However, away from their green and pleasant land, it’s a different story. In the same intervening period, England have lost 23 times and won just seven Tests.
Why the struggle? The percentage of teams winning away Tests has been between 20 and 30 per cent since the 1920s – but it’s apparent that this is starting to get lower and lower.
Tailor-made pitches for the hosts and the switch up of balls from the Duke to Kookaburra in some countries have made a difference. But, of course, you take advantage of being in your backyard.
For England, specifically, it could be said that the English – from professional sportspeople to your average Joe – just aren’t as comfortable outside the British Isles.
Changes in the form of new foods, cultures or languages often don’t fit for long periods, generally speaking. Football is a case in point – very rarely have we seen English players thrive in a new country for a decent chunk of time.
Luckily for England, the challenge of New Zealand has elements of a home-from-home scenario. The weather is hit and mix, there’s a high chance of rain and the pitches often aid some conventional swing and seam bowling.
Conditions on the South Island should be of the liking to the likes of James Anderson and then an Alastair Cook in the batting stakes, with the ball coming on. The same can be said of the Hagley Oval, Christchurch, the venue for the second and final Test.
If the tourists are to get that winning feeling again, then this could be a golden chance.
South Africa paceman Kagiso Rabada has been cleared to play in this week’s third Test against Australia by the International Cricket Council.
The 22-year-old’s two-match ban has been overturned after his charge of making ‘inappropriate and deliberate physical contact’ with Australia skipper Steve Smith during the second Test in Port Elizabeth was downgraded following an appeal.
Rabada had initially been fined 50 per cent of his match fee and given three demerit points after being found guilty of deliberately brushing shoulders with Smith while celebrating his dismissal on the opening day.
The fast bowler appealed against the suspension and, following an ICC hearing on Monday, it was announced on Tuesday morning that Rabada had been found not guilty of a Level Two offence.
Instead, the ICC said in a statement that Rabada had been found guilty of the lower-level offence of ‘conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game’ and been fined 25 per cent of his match fee and received one demerit point.
That leaves Rabada on a total of seven demerit points, one short of triggering an automatic two-match suspension, and he is available for the third and penultimate Test, which starts in Cape Town on Thursday.
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) March 20, 2018
Rabada had previously accepted a second charge of “using language, actions or gestures which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batsman upon his or her dismissal” following an incident involving Australia opener David Warner in the second Test.
He was fined a further 15 per cent of his match fee and received one demerit point.
The four-match series is level at 1-1 after South Africa won by six wickets in Port Elizabeth.
Provided by Press Association Sport
The first Test between New Zealand and England, starting at Eden Park in Auckland on Thursday, is the maiden day-night Test in New Zealand and only the ninth worldwide.
AFP Sport looks at five things we have learned in the brief history of Test cricket under lights:
Sri Lanka are the only team to win a day-night Test away when they beat Pakistan by 68 runs in Dubai last year. The other seven have all been home-ground victories. Sri Lanka scored 482 and 96 against Pakistan who replied with 262 and 248.
BAGGY GREENS IN THE PINK
Australia have played the most pink-ball Tests and are also the most successful side under day-night conditions with a 4-0 record. England and South Africa have both recorded a win and a loss, while the only other successful teams are Sri Lanka (1-0) and Pakistan (1-2).
MAKING LIGHT OF DUSK
Pakistan opener Azhar Ali showed changing light conditions need not be a problem when he compiled an unbeaten 302 against the West Indies in Dubai in October 2016. He batted for nearly 11 hours for what remains the highest score in a day-night Test. But he went for two in the second innings and five in the first innings of his next Test under lights against Australia two months later.
PAKISTAN PILE ON THE RUNS
The highest score in a pink-ball Test is Pakistan’s 579 for three declared in 155.3 overs when Azhar performed his heroics against the West Indies. Pakistan only managed 123 in the second innings – when Devendra Bishoo took eight for 49 – but held on to win by 56 runs.
The first pink-ball Test was played between New Zealand and Australia at Adelaide Oval in November 2015. New Zealand won the toss, elected to bat and ended up losing by three wickets.