Ben Stokes and James Anderson halt New Zealand progress at Trent Bridge
Ben Stokes and James Anderson shared four wickets as England held their own against an attacking New Zealand side on day one of the second LV= Insurance Test at Trent Bridge.
The tourists had been dealt a major blow on the eve of the match, with captain and key man Kane Williamson ruled out after a positive Covid-19 result, but responded bullishly to the news as they reached 195 for four at tea.
Stokes had asked the Black Caps to bat first but would have been questioning his decision when stand-in skipper Tom Latham and Will Young got the best of the morning session with an opening stand worth 84.
The pair eventually departed off consecutive deliveries, Stokes dismissing Young before Anderson took care of Latham, only for New Zealand to reassert themselves in the afternoon through Devon Conway and Henry Nicholls.
They made light of Williamson’s unexpected absence to put on 77 after lunch but, just as the game appeared to be drifting for England, another double strike from the seam duo accounted for both set batters.
Had Joe Root held on to a straightforward slip catch to see off Daryl Mitchell for just one, England may have found themselves in a position to dictate terms despite their sluggish start, but the ball squirmed out of his grasp to leave things finely poised.
That was the second drop of the day, with Zak Crawley putting down an earlier chance off Nicholls as the rock solid cordon on show during last week’s win at Lord’s began to creak.
The sight of a green-tinged pitch and a smattering of grey clouds would have excited the English seamers when they arrived at the ground, but the opening salvo from Anderson and an off-colour Stuart Broad saw precious little swing.
Anderson managed to keep things tight as he searched for movement, but Broad could not find a rhythm at his home ground and Matthew Potts was unable to recreate the wicket-taking impact of his debut appearance.
Latham and Young gratefully picked off the boundaries, 15 of them in the first-wicket stand, with a surplus of half-volleys and an attacking field contributing to rapid scoring.
Stokes’ first over was sloppy but the captain checked the growing momentum when he tightened up, angled one in at Young and presented Crawley with a neat low catch at second slip. That should have been the cue for Latham to dig in but instead he went after the very next ball, dug in short by Anderson and pinged obligingly to the diving Potts at mid-wicket.
After 21 overs of hard work, it had taken England two deliveries to restore the balance. New Zealand continued to take the initiative, reaching 108 by lunch as Conway and Nicholls settled quickly.
Broad conceded 10 off the first over of the afternoon and his frustrations continued when he found Nicholls’ edge only for Crawley to leap in front of Root and parry the chance. He responded by gesturing to the crowd to raise the volume – conducting the choir in the same way he did at Lord’s – but Conway was proving a stubborn opponent.
Stokes lost his footing as he tried to catch Nicholls running in from short-leg and Conway’s decision to stand his ground for a disputed catch – Potts off Anderson again – was supported by the umpires.
But the ageing ball had started to hoop and England managed to harness the swing. First Stokes got one to shape away from Nicholls (30) and flick the bat then three overs later Anderson snared the inside edge as Conway (46) pressed in defence.
Had that double strike become a triple, and it should have when Stokes produced a replica nick from Mitchell, England would have been in the ascendance. As it was, Mitchell began to counter-attack, leaving honours even with a session left.
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