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.
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.
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.
England: WLDDL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand: LLWWL
In the spotlight
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
“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