At the time, as New Zealand fell from 104 for 1 to 131 for 4 and then to 213 for 7, amidst a rash of run-outs and aggressive shots, it looked as if they were losing their grip on this game – and the series. Not so, for the innings was the result of their desire to push for a result: the Baz-effect, of two teams trying to out-positive each other.
Bracewell himself, however, was the first real sign that New Zealand were pushing – he smoked four boundaries and a six in a 17-ball 25. Until then, their batting had been a cagier mix of preservation and intent, interrupted by a run-out and a series of dismissals of strokes that had not been executed as well as they might have been.
Bracewell outright dismissed the idea that a draw had ever been in their thoughts. “We try to play positively as a side and ultimately try to win games of Test cricket,” he said. “The plan was to get out there and be super positive. I managed to get a couple out of the middle but unfortunately I couldn’t push on to a bigger score.
“The draw sort of comes out of it at the end if the win is not possible, rather than the other way round. We’re willing to win a Test series against England. You want to secure as many WTC points as possible. We ultimately want to win games of cricket and if that comes tomorrow where we have to bowl a little bit more negatively towards the end of the day, we’ll play that way. But yeah, we’re always aiming to win games of cricket.”
He’s already had an impressive debut Test, a first-innings 49 followed by 3 for 62 when England batted. There was some drift, some turn and plenty of bounce, all of which may play a part again.
“The wicket is deteriorating nicely for us,” he said. “It seems to be getting a little bit more turn and bounce there. Leachy showed that today so, yeah, I’m excited to get out there and bowl on it. The England team might come up with a few different plans to try and play me in this fourth innings. It’ll be an exciting day to really test my skills against some of the best players in the world.”
Although runs have come fast and with some ease, England want to keep the target as low as possible. There’s confidence after the chase, in trickier conditions, at Lord’s. There’s also knowledge that there’s runs still to be had on the surface.
“So much has happened this afternoon that now all three results are in play. It should be one hell of a day.”