Cricket: Blackcaps bowlers learning lessons from England's 'Bazball' revolution, insists Michael Bracewell

Staring at a huge defeat in the first test against England, Blackcaps allrounder Michael Bracewell says the lessons of 'Bazball' are being learned by a flailing New Zealand side.

On Saturday, England took firm control of the series' opening test and finished the day needing just five wickets to take a 1-0 lead, before next week's second encounter in Wellington.

In their second innings, the tourists scored 374 runs in just 73.5 overs to set the Blackcaps 394 runs for victory, with more than two days left.

But a new-ball burst from Stuart Broad put paid to any thought of a New Zealand victory, destroying the top order with 4/21 in 10 overs, and taking the prized wickets of Devon Conway, Kane Williamson, Tom Latham and Tom Blundell.

Stuart Broad celebrates.
Stuart Broad celebrates. Photo credit: Photosport

At the other end, Ollie Robinson (1/34) removed Henry Nicholls, leaving Bracewell and Daryl Mitchell to attempt to salvage a result on Sunday and Monday.

Across day three, the Blackcaps showed they had begun to absorb the lessons from England's ultra-aggressive style of play.

Since former NZ captain Brendon McCullum took charge in mid-2022, England have rewritten how test cricket is played. 

A record 506 runs in a day against Pakistan late last year was a statement to the world that England is a new side with McCullum and Ben Stokes at the helm, and that aggression would be the way forward.

On Saturday, the Blackcaps started to pull it back. England's second innings run rate (5.06 per over) was fractionally down on that of their first innings (5.57), with Bracewell insisting the NZ attack is learning the lessons needed.

"It's one of those ones, you know they're going to put your bad balls away," Bracewell said. "As a bowling unit, we've certainly improved throughout the test match and made those adjustments pretty well.

"In the second innings, we bowled a little bit better than the first innings. I'm sure we'll be better for it in the second test as well."

Bracewell will return to the crease on Sunday afternoon and faces the unenviable task of trying to dig the Blackcaps out of a huge hole.

With half the side already out, New Zealand need 331 more runs for victory, putting the weight on the shoulders of Bracewell and Mitchell, but cricket's a funny game, and Bracewell insists the Blackcaps aren't out of the fight just yet.

"It's obviously challenging under the lights," he said. "The ball was doing a little bit off the wicket there, but it's one of those ones that you have to pick yourself up pretty quickly and go again tomorrow afternoon.

"We're pretty positive that if we can get a couple of partnerships together tomorrow, we can make a fist of this total."

Victory in the first test - no matter how unlikely - would be a new record run chase for the Blackcaps, surpassing the 324-run target achieved against Pakistan in 1994 at Christchurch.

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