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No let-up in prospect as England, New Zealand lock horns again at Trent Bridge

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Are you not entertained? Thus was the mood music from a raucous four days of the first LV= Insurance Test at Lord’s. In so many ways, it was immaterial whether England won or lost that opening contest of the summer, so long as they put on a show that captivated a few wavering souls, and began the atonement process for a grim run of results in their previous 17 games.

And lo and behold, England delivered in style – through Joe Root in the final analysis of course, whose sublimely paced century was his first in the fourth innings and made a tricky target of 277 seem like a stroll on an improbably peaceful final morning, but through their captain Ben Stokes too, who needed a bit of luck in his madcap half-century, but earned it too after launching his tenure with some notably proactive leadership.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad provided England’s impetus in the first and third innings respectively, latching onto the general vibe of new beginnings with critically ebullient displays, while the debutant Matt Potts gave an outstanding account of himself with six wickets in the match to build on his rampant displays for Durham. All told, it was about as good a performance as England could have hoped to put together.

Which is, of course, a long way short of saying it was a performance that righted all the wrongs of the recent past. New Zealand will have left Lord’s knowing that they blew it, as much as England won it, but also that they have the personnel to right their wrongs at the first time of asking this week.

Not many sides get to recover from 45 for 7 and win (although England, funnily enough, did just that against these same opponents in 1999). But, having roared back with the ball on that thrilling 17-wicket opening day, Kane Williamson’s team had the match at their mercy twice over the next two days, first when Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell added 195 for their fifth wicket, the largest stand of the match by a distance, and then when Colin de Grandhomme bowled Stokes for 1 on the final afternoon… at which point England were 76 for 5, and already dead in the water.

But poor old de Grandhomme had overstepped, the second act of his miserable hat-trick of misfortune, and as Stokes strode back out to the middle to resume his critical 90-run stand with Root, so the contest was turned on its head. De Grandhomme would leave the field soon afterwards with a heel injury that has ruled him out of the rest of the campaign, and having been dozily run-out from gully during England’s team hat-trick in Broad’s fourth over of the morning, this is not a match he is likely to recall with any fondness.

Nevertheless, the fine margins on which this match swung – not dissimilar in that respect to their World Cup final clash on the same ground in 2019 – remains a reason for cautious Kiwi optimism as they wend their way up to Trent Bridge for Friday’s second Test. Kyle Jamieson was a constant towering menace with the ball, and will be all the better honed after a slightly sketchy display in his team’s warm-ups at Hove and Chelmsford, while the same will also be true of Trent Boult – who was a surprise inclusion only days after his arrival from the IPL final, but justified that gamble with a stellar display in their first-innings fightback.

But they’ll also need to find some more reliable sources of runs if they are to shore up their prospects. England aren’t exactly flush with high-scorers either – Root excepted of course – but aside from that one stellar partnership, no-one in New Zealand’s top six made more than 15 in either innings, while Tim Southee, with a brace of combative knocks from No.9 was their third-highest run-maker with 47 in the match.

One thing we don’t yet know is what England’s new head coach, Brendon McCullum, makes of it all. He chose not to speak to the media after Lord’s, possibly conscious of his mixed emotions after helping to sink his friends and former team-mates. But his positive message was writ large in England’s display, and remains central to the New Zealand philosophy too. It seems unlikely there will be much regression to caution over the next ten days of scheduled action.

Form guide

England: WLDDL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand: LLWWL

In the spotlight

Barely a Test goes by without Jonny Bairstow‘s role coming under scrutiny. It’s only a few months since his brilliant, emotional century against Australia at Sydney, a performance that made a mockery of his omission earlier in the series, while his follow-up hundred in Antigua seemed to indicate a new-found resolve to be England’s missing link in the middle order. But no-one in the current set-up spends more time veering between formats, and upon his return from IPL duty with Punjab Kings, Bairstow’s first red-ball outing since March was a disorientated affair – featuring two more bowled dismissals (that’s 37 in Tests now), and a lack of composure at key moments in both innings, in particular his loose drive against Jamieson in the second. Still, he’s shown on umpteen occasions that he’s never better than when he’s got a point to prove. He’s got several to prove this week, you sense…

There are few more daunting points of difference in world cricket than Kyle Jamieson, a man whose extraordinary physical attributes offer a test of mettle for every batter who faces him. His 6’8″ frame allows him to release the ball from such an unnaturally high apex that it scrambles the parameters of those in the firing line – witness Alex Lees’ disorientated leave as Jamieson flicked his off stump with a nipbacker in the second innings. For a time on the third day, it seemed he could win the match single-handed for New Zealand, as he picked off four of the five wickets to fall, but his measured methods – focussed on line, length and skill over express pace – mean he’s generally ready to come back for more. His current Test average, 72 wickets at 18.54, is mind-blowingly frugal.

Team news

For the second match running, England have named their XI more than 24 hours in advance of the toss, and it’s good news for Jack Leach, who has come through his mandatory seven-day period of concussion monitoring following a nasty injury at Lord’s, and takes his place back in the XI after being substituted for Matt Parkinson in that match. There are no other changes to a team that did the needful at Lord’s, with the retention of both James Anderson and Stuart Broad early evidence that England’s previous policy of rest and rotation for their ageing quicks is a thing of the past.

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 Jack Leach, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson.

New Zealand face a conundrum following the loss of de Grandhomme to his heel injury. Henry Nicholls, whose recovery from a calf injury was then interrupted by a positive Covid test, may be fit to return to the middle order, although his replacement Daryl Mitchell more than proved his worth with a century. Mitchell did not bowl much either, despite de Grandhomme’s lack of pace causing bother for both Root and Stokes at Lord’s, so there may be reluctance to retain him as a like-for-like allrounder. The spinner Ajaz Patel may be vulnerable after bowling just two expensive overs across two innings – there’s no doubt New Zealand missed the deck-hitting relentlessness of Neil Wagner during England’s victory push. Matt Henry is another option to shore up the seam attack.

New Zealand (possible): 1 Tom Latham, 2 Will Young, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Devon Conway, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 Daryl Mitchell, 7 Tom Blundell (wk), 8 Kyle Jamieson, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Neil Wagner, 11 Trent Boult.

Pitch and conditions

Trent Bridge has a long-standing reputation as a swinger’s paradise, although there has arguably been less overt movement through the air since the erection of the new stand on the Bridgford Road. Nevertheless, the pitch looks green-tinged 24 hours out from the toss, and with Stuart Broad potentially lining up for his final Test on home soil (though don’t suggest that to his face), memories of his 8 for 15 against Australia in 2015 are sure to be rife this week. The weather looks set to be bright all week long.

Stats and trivia

  • After three sixes at Lord’s, Stokes is now 15 away from overtaking his coach, Brendon McCullum, as the leading six-hitter in Test history. Stokes passed Virender Sehwag last week and is currently fifth on the all-time list with 93; Tim Southee is 15th.
  • New Zealand’s defeat at Lord’s was their first against England since 2015. They had won four of their intervening seven Tests, including a series-squaring win at Headingley in that same series, and back-to-back series wins in 2019-20 and 2021.
  • Tim Southee needs eight more wickets to reach 350 in Tests. Only Richard Hadlee (431) and Dan Vettori (362) have taken more for New Zealand.
  • Quotes

    “I always find we’re very evenly matched with New Zealand, especially in English conditions. The overheads suit both our bowling attacks, and we know that every time we go up against New Zealand, it’s never an easy ride. The [Lord’s] game pretty much went to the wire until day four, and we don’t expect anything less.”
    Ben Stokes is braced for a backlash from New Zealand after their Lord’s loss.

    “This team has done such a good job over a long period of time, we’re not going to panic after just one game. We certainly know there were moments in that game we could’ve seized and been better in. We know if we do that it will go a long way in trying to win this game and this series.”
    Kyle Jamieson saw enough in the first Test to know that his side can still be competitive.

    Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket


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