In episode 20, season one of cult TV hit Arrested Development, some of the Bluth Company assets are unfrozen leading to Michael, head and signatory by virtue of being the only competent Bluth, fielding requests for cash from various family members. At the end of his tether by the time his brother, Gob, and brother-in-law, Tobias, get to him, he suggests the pair come up with a business proposal to earn their money.
Gob and Tobias retreat to a local coffee shop for a brainstorming session that goes nowhere. But as they go to leave, Michael walks in and, before they tell him of their fruitless conversation, he commends them for their initiative as he had always been interested in opening a coffee shop. They say nothing in response, and slowly back out of the shop, wary of ruining the perception they a) have a plan, and b) know how to pull it off. A bluff that lasts barely a week when all they managed to come up with is the name – “Gobias”. As in, “go buy us” a coffee.
As such, Headingley provides as much of an opportunity to reinforce the method behind the mantra or pull at a rogue thread on the invisible garment. The trick for England is to react calmly whatever the result: not get too full of of themselves with a 3-0 win, and keep faith in these principles even if New Zealand get on the board – two things previous iterations of this England team have not done exactly done well.
By contrast, New Zealand’s practice was far more jovial in a bid to lift spirits after what has been a taxing few weeks. Along with the defeats has been the jeopardy of waking up every morning to some kind of Covid news.
Those sanctions were lifted in March – a move welcomed by Rafiq. But the change the ECB wished to see has been slow and by no means steady. In a week to be celebrated, there is a sense those involved with the club, both at the time of the scandal and now, are praying the match passes as quietly and quickly as possible.
In the spotlight
There cannot be a much worse feeling than that of a failing batter in a successful team. The added sour taste for Crawley is that, of the openers picked in the last few years, he is the most perfect fit for what this side are trying to be about. There’s an argument to be made that he got out to the two best deliveries sent down by Trent Boult, New Zealand’s best bowler, in the second Test. But that will only console him so far. The modus operandi of this England set-up is to give people opportunities to come good. As is always the case for anyone searching for form, the best time to find it is the present.
England: 1 Alex Lees, 2 Zak Crawley, 3 Ollie Pope, 4 Joe Root, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Ben Stokes (capt), 7 Ben Foakes (wk), 8 Matthew Potts, 9 Jamie Overton, 10 Jack Leach, 11 Stuart Broad
New Zealand (possible): 1 Tom Latham, 2 Will Young, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Devon Conway, 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 Henry Nicholls, 7 Tom Blundell (wk), 8 Tim Southee, 9 Neil Wagner, 10 Matt Henry/Ajaz Patel, 11 Trent Boult
Pitch and conditions
The rains expected over the weekend are probably not going to be enough to guarantee this game will go to five days. But the look of the pitch – the beigest so far this series – a day out suggests it will require a decent amount of graft from the bowlers to prise 20 wickets. England chose to bowl first at Trent Bridge last week and conceded 553, and though that worked out fine in the end, it’s probably not an approach they’ll look to take again.
Stats and trivia
“For me, my message is clear and simple: let’s try to progress from that. It’s hard to put into words how we do that this week, but I said this week let’s feel like we’re in the entertainment business and not the sports business. That’s the only real way I could put into simple terms for everyone.”
Ben Stokes wants his side to go bigger, again
Trent Boult believes New Zealand can remind people how good they are and why they are World Test champions
Vithushan Ehantharajah is a sportswriter for ESPNcricinfo