Jamie Overton said he had no trouble fitting into an England set-up committed to keeping fans “on the edge of their seats” as he continued an impressive Test debut at Headingley on Saturday.
The towering fast bowler may have been given a cap as a replacement for injured England spearhead James Anderson but that did not stop him from starring with the bat in the series finale against New Zealand.
Walking out for his maiden international innings with England in dire straits at 55-6, the undaunted Overton made 97 and shared a game-changing stand of 241 with local hero Jonny Bairstow, who struck a superb 162 on his Yorkshire home ground.
New Zealand, however, were making steady progress at 125-1 in their second innings when Overton had Tom Latham caught behind for 76 with the very first ball of Saturday’s evening session.
It was another match-turning moment, with World Test champions New Zealand having stumbled to 168-5 when rain led to an early close.
The Black Caps, already 2-0 down in a three-match series, are 137 runs ahead but England will fancy their chances of completing a whitewash in the remaining two days’ play in Leeds.
“It’s been good fun,” Overton told reporters. “Obviously I was very disappointed getting out on 97, but I feel like I’ve contributed to the team.
“Ben Stokes has got the ethos of trying to be entertainers for everyone and he said in the changing room earlier that the way me and Jonny played had the crowd on the edge of their seats.”
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“I like to think I’m quite an entertaining cricketer,” added Overton, with Azeem Rafiq among the crowd as the former spinner returned to Headingley for the first time since publicly alleging he had been racially abused by Yorkshire team-mates and staff during his time at the county.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has struggled with an elbow injury in the 12 months since leading the Black Caps to victory over India in the inaugural World Test Championship final. He also suffered another setback when he was ruled out of last week’s second Test with Covid-19.
New Zealand have not won a Test series during the past year, with their star batter failing to post a fifty.
Williamson, however, had looked increasingly assured Saturday while making 48, including eight fours.
But a howl of anguish from the usually reserved Williamson when caught behind off Matthew Potts — the novice England quick dismissing him for the third time in four innings this series — told its own story.
“He’s been in and out of the side over the last wee while and I’m sure he’ll be frustrated with how it went today,” said New Zealand left-arm paceman Trent Boult, who had sparked England’s collapse by removing all of their top three in a brilliant burst.
“That’s the game we play: the guy didn’t try to get out, it was just down to good bowling, a bit of pressure and the situation that he was under.”