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Cricket: Collapse conundrum continues for Black Caps

After a solid test series against England at home, New Zealand's latest two batting efforts have placed their progress under scrutiny.

The tourists were struck by that most inexplicable of dressing room diseases 'the collapse' again at Headingley.

New Zealand went from 62 for one to 122 for nine in the space of 21.2 overs, effectively robbing them of the chance to level the series. They were bowled out for 174. England had built a lead of 296 runs by stumps on the third day.

England bowled well through the bounce of Steven Finn and the spin of Graeme Swann out of footmarks created by left-armers Neil Wagner and Trent Boult.

Boult is unlikely to bowl any more overs this test. He has a side strain. A more definitive assessment is due tomorrow on how it might affect his role in the Champions Trophy.

New Zealand's Ross Taylor played on to Finn for six. It was one of the trickiest deliveries of the day, cramping him for space.

"Finn's not a big swing bowler but banged it in and got rewards," Taylor said. "It wasn't a quick wicket where it's a bit easier to duck.

"Swann hasn't bowled a lot this series and it shows what he can do on a wicket that's turning. He got some decent deliveries to bite out of the footmarks."

Swann finished with England's best figures of four for 42 after missing out on wickets at Lord's last week. He had only bowled in one previous test at Leeds against Australia in 2009.

"Those were my first test wickets against New Zealand and at Headingley. [Wicketkeeper] Matt Prior was good enough to point that out to me," he laughed.

"He asked what end do you normally bowl here and I said: 'well, I don't normally play'. I was in north Wales on a campsite last year when the South African game was going on. I'd be disappointed if I couldn't turn the ball out of the footmarks but I surprised myself how much I hit them early on. Normally it takes a few overs to get my range. Then I kept throwing it up to get five-for but Boult kept hitting me for six.

"It's only third time I've bowled since my elbow operation. It's nice to have taken a few wickets with such a big summer ahead. I always wonder after operations whether my rhythm will return. You're never too sure, so I'm delighted. It feels like it did 18 months ago."

Swann says the ease with which they dismissed New Zealand came from some serious thinking at lunchtime.

"The ball we had went out of shape and the one we changed it too didn't swing either. We had to change our plans so we weren't relying on swing. We had to be more patient bowling dot balls and maidens."

Fortune did not favour New Zealand at times. England's decision to review a rejected Tim Southee lbw was an example. To give it not out was hardly an umpire howler. The ball was judged to have hit the pad momentarily before bat as it squirted to mid-on.

Taylor was reluctant to fuel debate: "I don't think my point of view is relevant. I'll tell you [what I think] after the game."

NZ innings

- NZ Herald

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