Early test for McCullum
England, trailing by 227, have chased more than 230 in the fourth innings, only twice in the last ten years. They have chased more than 290 six times in history. To say they are up against it is an understatement.
And yet are the odds overestimating their chances? Batting in the fourth innings, because of pressure, low confidence and surface wear and tear, is notoriously difficult. New Zealand are 1.548/15, England 5.409/2 and the draw, surely irrelevant, at 6.4011/2. The forecast is good for the last three days and it should be in the teens. Bet the match odds here.
What is notable about those two rare successes against the odds, is that they required superhuman efforts. The first by Ben Stokes, of course, at Leeds in 2019 in a epoch-shattering innings.
Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes, playing with the freedom that only certain defeat brings, rescued England from 115 for five chasing 277 against Pakistan in Manchester a year later.
What will perhaps be of more concern is England's average runs per wicket data. In the last three years in fourth-innings England have managed 23.8 runs per wicket. They will have to overperform considerably to win.
Another 60 runs or so and England are in historic territory. A chase of more than 290 will be in their top five chases of all time. Check the list here.
Brendon McCullum, then, for all the hype about his positivity and 'trusting the process' is suddenly getting his fingers burnt on his baptism of fire as a Test match coach.
A player (or a group) needs more than guru platitudes to decipher how to score runs in the fourth innings against the world champions. What are the techniques, trigger movements and tactics to get them back in the game?
If McCullum's answer is attack, it will make for entertaining cricket. Yet, more often than not, will surely end in defeat.
New Zealand's innings runs offers a betting option. With the new ball available, England will at least have potency. James Anderson, Stuart broad and Matt Poots offer a significant challenge and after a night's rest, the eyes of the Kiwi batsmen must search again for a way in.
It is one of the curiosities of the markets that a new ball doesn't seem to be a factor on innings runs. Sportsbook go 10/11 under 376.5 and it feels like a short. Bet the Sportsbook markets here.
England's last five successful chases
164 v Sri Lanka Galle 2021
359 v Australia Leeds 2019
277 v Pakistan Manchester 2020
107 v West Indies Lord's 2017
80 v Sri Lanka Riverside 2016
There looks to be little wrong with the Lord's pitch. It's not often Kevin Pietersen is worth quoting, and we're pretty sure he was talking about the surface, but he said: "she's white, she's pure."
He could have said hard and flat, admittedly but KP is KP. There have been many more pundits who have made similar reports on the wicket. Once that new ball zest had been lost by England in the Kiwis' second-innings, batting looked pretty easy.
Attention, then, turns to England's top-bat market for the fourth. And when the pitch is good, it is hard to look past Joe Root. The problem is, as the data shows below, with six wins in his last 32 it's going to be a tough ask from 5/2, maybe 11/4.
Ben Stokes, for so long outstanding value, remains prohibitively short especially now he has moved himself down to No 6.
Zak Crawley topped in the first. He's a conundrum for punters because seasoned Test watchers know full well he's not good enough. Yet he doesn't have to be with this England line-up. With four wins in 17 in the second innings he's value from 4/1. He was 5/1 in the first innings.
Crawley's runs are also an interesting gamble. He does not die wondering. What is attractive about a buy of Crawley's runs, at around 23.5 (maybe higher) is that his weakness, bizarrely, means runs.
New Zealand will look to get him on the front foot driving, so will offer plenty of full balls. The rationale is that his bat doesn't comes down straight because his hips are pointing toward mid-off. Crawley has worked hard to correct the technical fault. But it returned to get him first time round.
It could take time again, by which point he could be more than halfway there with just the three scoring strokes. Bet the Sportsbook markets here. A lay is also an option on the exchange lines.
Second innings top bat wins/matches