'It's definitely on' – England confident of ending winless Test winter on a high
England have a good chance of ending their winter with a Test victory against New Zealand, says wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.
The visitors set New Zealand 382 to win the second Test at Hagley Oval with a day remaining.
England have lost 10 of their past 12 overseas Tests and have not won away from home since October 2016.
“There’s no reason why we can’t go out there and take wickets,” Bairstow told Test Match Special after day four.
New Zealand are 42-0 in reply to England’s target, trailing by 340 runs.
Bad light ended the fourth day’s play early, with 98 overs scheduled to be bowled on the final day.
Since the beginning of 2016, England’s away record in Test cricket is worse than all but Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
They lost four of the five Ashes Tests this winter, managing to salvage a draw in Melbourne, and they lost the first Test against New Zealand by an innings and 49 runs.
“We’ve got three sessions to bowl and take 10 wickets. If the light and weather comes into it, there’s nothing we can do about it,” Bairstow added.
“Going into the last day, we’re in a great position. I think we’ve got a good chance.”
How can England win?
Ex-England spinner Graeme Swann believes Jack Leach could play an important role in England’s push for victory, if he is used correctly.
Left-arm spinner Leach, making his Test debut in Christchurch, found turn and bounce to trouble New Zealand’s opening batsmen.
Swann told Test Match Special that the Somerset player had not been set the right fields to allow him to bowl in a more attacking fashion.
“I’m going to find [Joe] Rooty in the morning, rugby tackle him, and tell him he needs to give Leach the right field,” Swann said.
“Why did he have an extra cover? Why on earth would you block the one area where you want the batsman to drive, so he might create a gap between bat and pad?”
Swann said that Leach’s experience in bowling on the final day in county cricket could help him cope with the pressure of trying to win a Test.
“They should put Leach on in the morning – I don’t think he’s had the right field so far, but he’ll create problems,” Swann added.
“I’d then rotate Anderson, Broad and Wood from the other end – that’s England’s best way of winning the game. It’s definitely on.”