England a force of nature
Day two was classic Headingley. In muggy conditions the bowlers roared back to dominate. Then the sun came out and belligerent, bullish England biffed and boffed their way back into the game.
At 55 for six, the critics were sharpening their pencils, and their knives, to take a stab at England's aggressive approach. They can only play one way. All-out attack is no good when the ball is swinging. Ben Stokes batted recklessly.
Of course, they would have had a point. There is nothing cute about the way this England side play and when their top-order batsmen come up against such a quality attack in favourable conditions, the old foibles and flaws return. Exhibit one: Zak Crawley bowled through the gate trying to cream one through the covers off the front foot.
That sort of collapse, in repeat conditions, will keep happening. But they are also liable to hit back in the same manner as Jonny Bairstow and Jamie Overton did. There is an extraordinary confidence to a team with such a poor win rate. A carefree attitude which allows them to take the bowlers on and ask: can you cope with this?
That leads us to New Zealand. The answer at Trent Bridge was no. In Leeds, they again lost the plot when England refused to be cowed.
We have to winder whether the Kiwis have reverted to type. Previous to their run to the World Test Championship, they were a team who often got themselves into a winning position only to let it slip through their fingers. Three times in this series they had the game in their pocket. Twice they have fumbled.
A third is a 1.9310/11 chance. They are 3.90 to win it with the draw 4.30100/30. Our gut is that England force-of-nature personality may prove too much for New Zealand again, who just don't seem to have an answer. Bet the match odds here.
The weather forecast is important. There is cloud and a few showers over the next few days. If the status quo remains, a quick game could be a good game. The draw lay looks expensive but who dares wins and all that.
Another market of note is Test Match End. Keep your eyes on it. We're looking for some liquidity to lay any of the sessions on day five. betfair.com/exchange/plus/cricket/market/1.200200991
Williamson's poor return
Finding a winner for top New Zealand bat in their second-innings may be child's play. Dare we look past Daryl Mitchell, who with another century broke the record for most runs by a Kiwi in a Test series?
Maybe not. What is notable about the data below is the paucity of returns from big gun Kane Williamson and the widely-admired Henry Nicholls. Williamson is likely to be around 11/4 which is off-putting and Nicholls around 5/1. Mitchell may well be a wager at 4s.
With those overcast conditions in mind, we have a liking again for Tim Southee from 50s. Southee looked in decent touch with a nice first-innings cameo. Bet Sportsbook prices here.
Last 3 years top bats wins/matches in 2nd innings
Overton comes of age
One man's misfortune is another's gain. And it has never been more true in professional sport. Careers are made on the back of another's bad luck. Jamie Overton may consider, if he hasn't already, a prayer to the Almighty after a strong debut.
Few could argue that he is fortunate to have been picked. Were it not for injuries to England's entire reserve stock of bowlers who can consistently approach 90mph - the likes of Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Ollie Stone - plus Ollie Robinson's bad back, stomach upsets and Covid, he wouldn't have merited a mention.
It was only 2021 that Overton had a season which suggested his county career was at stake, let alone an international one. He took six wickets at 75 in eight games.
What a difference a few months makes. England will now reckon they have a genuine all-rounder on their hands, one who could balance the side for years to come. A bloke who can biff it and bowl at 88mph is like gold dust.
Overton's batting and bowling may eventually mean bad news for almost all of those listed above, bar Archer (although it would be a surprise if his body allowed him to play test cricket again. And, slightly uncomfortably over the Christmas dinner table, his brother Craig.
Sportsbook offer his runs to go under at 113.5. It is a very tempting spell with the adrenaline have faded away and conditions likely to be tougher. Bet Sportsbook prices here.