The ball, which was 55 overs old at the time, had to be vigorously wiped down after coming back covered in beer (or possibly cider). Although England had tried to get the ball changed on more than one occasion previously, they were told to continue with it and struggled to make further inroads as Mitchell and Tom Blundell put on an unbroken stand worth 149 come the close.
England’s seamers had enjoyed their best spell during the afternoon, finding swing with the older ball. New Zealand batter Devon Conway said after play that it “certainly didn’t swing as much” after going for a dip, and admitted that the tourists had been surprised that the umpires didn’t call for a replacement.
“We were quite shocked that they didn’t change the ball, with all the Covid protocols put in place these days, we thought that they might have looked to have changed it,” Conway said. “I think certainly it didn’t swing as much. So I think Daryl played a very smart role there, to make sure the ball didn’t swing as much. Yeah it was an interesting period. I think I did see the umpire trying to dry it as much as he could with a towel. If that did play a role, I don’t know.”
It also transpired that New Zealand had arranged to buy a replacement pint for the female spectator whose drink was so dramatically dive-bombed, with Conway jokingly suggesting that Mitchell should cover the cost after finishing the day on an unbeaten 81.
“I wasn’t out there, I haven’t spoken to the boys about it,” Lewis said. “It did swing a little bit less [after landing in the cup], but it’s just I think the ball was really soft. When the ball goes soft it’s hard to get it past the bat with any pace. It changes the game a little bit.
“I think we’ve just got to find a way [to take wickets]. It’s obvious that the balls are going a little bit soft, and a little bit out of shape, but they’re still going through the hoops. It’s something we’ve got to find a way to take wickets with the balls that we’re given to play with.”