Auckland: The rain that has dampened New Zealand's hopes of a Test victory in Auckland has offered a lifeline to a battle-scarred England — but they will need improve their mindset to save the match, according to Graham Thorpe.
Thorpe, now the England batting coach, drew upon the painful experience of a batting disaster from very early in his own career as a middle-order batsman.
His sixth Test was against the West Indies in 1994 at Port of Spain where England were rolled for 46 in the second innings — their second-lowest innings ever, and worse even than the 58 made in the first innings of this Test against New Zealand.
"The mind is the most important thing and my life perspective story can come into play quite a bit," Thorpe said as England prepared for a thorough examination over the remaining two days of the Test.
"Your pride is dented, but you can't feel sorry for yourself for too long. You can't just run off into the hills or hide under the bed, you've actually got to get up and go again the next day."
After England's short-lived first innings, New Zealand were 175 for three at stumps on day one, with a lead of 117 runs.
But lengthy rain disruptions have meant they advanced only 58 more runs in just 25 available overs in the following two days. Only 17 balls were bowled on Saturday before showers returned for the entire day.
With fine weather forecast for the remainder of the Test, Thorpe has dismissed the idea of a first innings post-mortem examination and put the emphasis on England looking forward to save the Test.
"The important thing is what happens in the rest of the game and the confidence of the players trying to clear your minds," he said.
"The rain has probably helped us a little bit. We're nowhere near out of the woods but it can give them something to focus on and we're going to have to bat better than we did.
"There's a glimmer still in this Test match. We're well capable of batting well in the second innings and saving the game."
England do have issues to address, the most immediate being how to cope with the swing bowling of Trent Boult and Tim Southee, who took all 10 wickets in the first innings.
In the longer term Thorpe suggested the preparation for Test matches needs to be looked at, after the build up to this Test was restricted to two two-day games against a New Zealand XI.
"We didn't play the swinging ball well, no-one did and we weren't able to put a foothold in the game," he said.
"Boult got the ball perfect for a left arm seamer but it might only do that for 15 overs. No-one was trying to get out. Sometimes these things happen and they shake up the dressing room and they shake up the individuals as well.
"The mind is the most important thing. They've got to go back out there and they've got another innings and they've got to get back in the fight."
Thorpe said that for the health of Test cricket it would be a definite help to have a bigger warm-up window for touring sides but insisted there were "no excuses" for England's first-day batting performance.
"You have to play what's in front of you and on match day you have to come up with something and we didn't have the answers."
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