• England v New Zealand, 1st Investec Test, Lord's, 1st day

New Zealand frustrate England on slow day

The Report by Andrew McGlashan at Lord's
May 16, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
England 160 for 4 (Trott 39, Boult 2-29) v New Zealand
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Trent Boult produced two excellent deliveries to remove Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott © Getty Images
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Although the scoreboard only read four wickets, New Zealand could be highly satisfied with the opening day of the series at Lord's having restricted England to a run-rate of two-an-over. Each of the top four bedded in before being chipped out by a supremely accurate bowling attack who were again led astutely by their proactive captain.

It is fair to say that Brendon McCullum would have swapped one of the wickets today for that final scalp in Auckland six weeks ago, but New Zealand know the importance of backing up their performance at home with a strong showing overseas and they have ensured that England will not be sitting too comfortably overnight.

Trent Boult claimed two key scalps in the afternoon session, due reward for high-class, crafty swing bowling. Alastair Cook, who had problems against him and Neil Wagner in New Zealand, pushed at one outside off stump and Jonathan Trott - shaping to play a significant innings on a ground where he averages over 70 - was brilliantly caught low at third slip five minutes before tea.

Trott's dismissal will have left one New Zealander feeling especially relieved; Bruce Martin had given him a life before he got off the mark when he spilled a return catch. It meant that Joe Root, who had never played at Lord's, emerged for his first home Test innings in a tricky situation five minutes before a break but was as assured as any of the England batsman while compiling a jaunty 25 during the final session before rain lopped off the last 10 overs.

Three down would have been a solid enough - if unspectacular - day for England but the removal of Ian Bell, 10 balls before the second new ball became available, ensured New Zealand could end the day the happier side. Bell had produced a display of considerable self-restraint before being drawn into pushing at a ball (his 133rd) angled across him. It was a poor shot at a poor time, but nothing less than Wagner deserved for pounding in on a fairly unforgiving surface.

Although the sun shone for the opening day of the international summer, batting was not a simple prospect. But both captains got their wish at the toss with McCullum saying he would have bowled. Firstly there was swing, the subject of much debate in the build-up, then there was a pitch on the sluggish side that made timing the ball difficult and an outfield - relayed over the winter following the Olympic Archery - which deflated value for shots on a ground where the ball normally races away. A tally of 15 boundaries in 80 overs was testament to that.

Spin, historically, does not play a major role in May Tests but there were signs that it could have an influential role in this match. Martin, who only had his place confirmed on the morning of the game when New Zealand resisted the temptation of an all-seam attack, tweaked his first ball past Nick Compton's edge which was just enough to plant a few doubts.

But it could not really explain Compton's dismissal when, completely out of character to the rest of his innings, he advanced down the pitch to try and drive over cover but only succeeded in toe-ending a catch to point. The shot came on the back of four consecutive maidens with England finding it difficult to rotate the strike. Martin should have made it two successes before lunch but shelled the chance, chest-height to his right, when Trott drove a fraction early.

The rare early boundaries that did come went to Cook - a clip and a cut - but he had to work hard to survive Tim Southee's opening spell from the Pavilion End. Southee and Boult found consistent swing and though it was not always on target it was enough to keep the batsmen wary. After lunch it was Boult's turn to harass Cook, the movement enough to make him unsure what to play and what to leave, and he found the outside edge which was superbly held by BJ Watling having realised the ball would not have carried to first slip.

Following his reprieve, Trott produced some of the best timing on show as he flicked strongly off his pads whenever the bowlers drifted and also drove strongly through the off side. Unlike overseas, where the Kookaburra ball will stop swinging after about 20 overs, the Dukes offers encouragement for much longer and Boult, brought back for a burst before tea, made one jag across Trott which, although he tried to play with soft hands, just carried to Brownlie. In New Zealand, Brownlie had a 50-50 series in the slips but this was a cracking grab.

Amid the blocking and leaving there was the occasional gem; Bell's cover drive off Wagner was a particular highlight while Root, playing with a little more intent that others, took a rare boundary off Martin with a strong sweep. When a heavy shower arrived Root was with his Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow. They are the future of England's batting. This will be a good test of their credentials.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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