New Zealand 378 and 62-2
England 275 (Burns 132, Robinson 42, Root 42; Southee 6-43)
New Zealand’s tightly-honed cricket intelligence met English largesse on the fourth morning of the first Test at Lord’s and proved the superior method as Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson, swing bowlers at very different stages of their careers, gave the hosts’ dashers a serious dose of Test reality.
Southee, the third-highest wicket-taker in New Zealand Test history, and Jamieson, who could easily attain such lofty heights after a whirlwind start to his Test career, bowled with great craft to nip out four England batsmen in a dominant couple of hours, including a passage of three wickets for none.
England hit back through the limpet-like resistance of Rory Burns, who only extended his repertoire after reaching a gutsy third Test hundred, an impressive debut with the bat from Ollie Robinson and a Leach-like last-wicket supporting role from Jimmy Anderson. And although the home side found themselves dismissed by tea – albeit one delayed by a 10th wicket stand worth 52 – they had made their opponents’ gallop towards victory much less straightforward.
It gave the tourists a lead of 103 – they might at one point have forced England to follow-on – and underlined their suitability to be one of the two nations contesting the World Test Championship in two weeks’ time, and that they are not merely the home bankers they are alleged to be by some observers, an opinion at best snobbish or, at worst, propaganda for the so-called ‘Big Three’.
That lead was extended to 162 by the close as, on a pitch occasionally producing life from a length, England bowled with great discipline. Anderson and Stuart Broad were both unlucky, but Robinson settled into another impressive spell that brought him the wickets of Devon Conway and Kane Williamson from nine tight overs.
With rain having washed out the third day it was going to take some adventurous batting or an embarrassing skittling reminiscent of England’s final day in Adelaide in 2006 for a positive result to become practical as well as theoretical.
The second option seemed the more likely immediately when Joe Root found himself edging Kyle Jamieson’s first ball of the morning to Ross Taylor at second slip and even more so when Ollie Pope started uncomfortably with two snicked fours, neither of which went remotely where he intended. Although three more orthodox boundaries hinted at growing confidence Southee teased him outside off stump before angling one in to trap him in front.
Dan Lawrence fell at the same score, 140, edging a drive to an outswinger by shutting the face of his bat unnecessarily early – the kind of shot so naïve in design and inept in execution that its horror could probably only adequately be expressed in an Edvard Munch painting. James Bracey, who had maybe envisaged himself strolling in some time in mid-afternoon with the draw as good as sealed, suddenly found himself at the wicket within the first hour. He lasted only six balls as Southee hooped a ball into the left-hander up the hill from round the wicket and demolished his stumps for a debut duck.
Earlier in the morning, with only Root back in the hutch, Mark Wood had been spotted returning from a spot of batting practice in the Nursery Ground nets, exchanging pleasantries with Devon Conway on the boundary edge as he strolled back to the pavilion. No doubt England fans thought, at that stage, it was a little premature for the team’s fastest bowler to have strapped his pads on but soon he was seen again on the dressing room balcony with them in place for real.
Only Burns seemed inclined to replicate the example of Conway in his first Test innings, superb judgement of the ball outside off stump ensuring his survival if not a rush of runs. By lunch he had scored only 13 of the 53 added yet he had not exactly missed out on scoring opportunities – there weren’t many to be had. Robinson found one or two more, but it was his solidity that at last gave Burns someone to work with against Kane Williamson’s well-judged use of his bowlers.
Those bowlers repaid their captain by operating thoughtfully, with no little skill and impressive stamina. Southee, a veteran at 32 but seemingly as fit as a fiddle, bowled well into the second hour and Jamieson, after a short break following a spell from the Nursery End, was switched to the Pavilion End, while Neil Wagner and Colin De Grandhomme provided economical back-up; even Mitchell Santner got an over before the interval – and thought he had the bat-pad wicket of Robinson. On review it was clear that no bat had been involved and was a second shocker from the normally-reliable umpire Michael Gough, who really shouldn’t have needed the New Zealand review to send Pope packing either.
Robinson showed himself to be a mature cricketer if an immature tweeter, growing into his innings with two fours from a Wagner over, one sliding off the face to backward point, the other off the back foot and through cover, bringing up the 50 partnership with Burns, of which he had scored 35.
Burns showed signs of trying to increase his own scoring rate, but should have been stumped off Santner, brought into the attack in the first hour after lunch primarily to speed the journey to the new ball. The England opener came down the wicket to the left-arm spinner, who threw it wider, completely defeating him in the flight. BJ Watling snatched too eagerly, however, and while he swiped the bails off with his gloves, there was no ball attached.
Burns was on 77 at the time and three runs later he had another slice of luck as he mistimed a pull off Southee that dropped between mid-wicket and the man on the same angle in the deep. Robinson, on 42, did not fare so well and when Southee dropped short again, the Sussex allrounder top-edged his pull and found long leg. It meant a 13th five-wicket haul for the bowler, who began his Test career with his first, also against England, as a teenager.
Mark Wood did not last long, flashing at Jamieson, clicking into a confident line and length in only his second day of cricket at Lord’s and Burns escaped again, on 88, when he chased a ball from Wagner and edged into Southee’s hands – and out of them – at second slip; Taylor grasped instinctively at the rebound but also couldn’t hang on.
Stuart Broad carved one six over mid-wicket before Wagner got belated reward by bowling him and now, with the score on 223, only Burns and Anderson stood between New Zealand and an 150-plus lead. Anderson stayed around for Burns to go his hundred – two guided down to third man off Wagner – which was the key for the Surrey captain to turn on the after-burners.
The pressure visibly dropped from his shoulders as he began hitting boundaries for fun – the best a sumptuous pick-up on one knee from outside off that deposited a bemused Wagner into the crowd in front of the Tavern. Anderson, when required, fed on his usual batting diet of the uneasy forward prod, pleasant extra cover drive and variable reverse sweep, as England put some pressure back on their opponents. Finally, Burns edged Southee behind – the second opening batsman in successive innings to miss by the smallest margin the rare achievement of carrying their bat – just short of a new career-best.
Southee, in his 78th Test, had a second six-wicket haul against England at Lord’s – the first was in 2013 – and Jamieson, in only his seventh, finished with a highly creditable three for 86.