A test match decided in four days normally indicates that one side have dominated the opposition and finished them off quickly. Well, that was certainly not the case in the first test at Lords between England and New Zealand which proved to be an extremely close encounter.
Having won the toss and elected to bat first on Day One, England captain Alastair Cook did not see his side make the inroads he would have hoped. England trudged along at just two runs per over and consistently lost wickets throughout the day.
They surrendered the initiative to a New Zealand attack who, while aided by the conditions, should not have been allowed to dominate England in such a manner. The England batsmen consistently got in and then got out, closing the day on 160-4.
The morning of day two was even more troublesome for England, who fell victim to a New Zealand pace attack, led brilliantly by Tim Southee who got the ball to swing. Joe Root and Johnny Bairstow provided the only resistance for England, who collapsed to 232 all out.
Then came the highlight of the test, as James Anderson outsmarted Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton to claim his 300th Test Wickets, becoming only the fourth England bowler to achieve that feat. New Zealand recovered well from that early setback and through Williamson and Taylor managed to gain an element of control going into day three.
From there it became a test match where ball dominated bat. England skittled New Zealands tail to reduce the tourists to 207 all out, James Anderson claiming a five wicket haul. New Zealand though hit back early, dismissing Cook and Compton cheaply. A partnership between Trott and Root probably set the basis for England victory, both passing half centuries and ensuring England would take a reasonable lead into the final innings.
Apart from that partnership there was little else to shout about for England who failed to handle the swing and collapsed to 213 all out, with Tim Southee claiming six wickets and ten in the match.
Needing just 238 to claim a famous victory, New Zealand never looked like getting them. Wickets fell regularly, seven in total going to Stuart Broad as England ripped through New Zealand, wrapping up the match just after lunch on day four by dismissing New Zealand for a dreadful 68.
This was a match where the bowlers had conditions in their favour. Consistently overcast conditions, coupled with the need to have the lights on practically all day led to swing for the two sides and trouble for the batting units. The bowlers for both teams performed admirably and deserve credit for the low scores that were achieved in this match. That said, the batting was woeful at times.
So many wickets fell to balls delivered outside off stump which should have simply been left alone. Instead, batsmen from both teams wafted a bat at these wide deliveries, providing catch and catch for keepers and slip cordons. New Zealand in particular gave so many wickets to Broad on the final day by waving away outside off stump. Had they had more control an allowed the ball to pass by, this game may have ended up much closer.
Both batting units will want to improve drastically as the teams head to Headingley for the second test. As for the bowlers this was a good start to the summer for the seamers. Conditions were helpful for swing but the bowlers made the most of it to dismiss the batting sides so cheaply.
England will need to be more positive going forward. Once again the bowlers have bailed out the batsmen who look pedestrian and one paced without the dynamic Kevin Pietersen. Their run rate in the first innings was embarrassing, simply sitting in, scoring nothing and waiting t be got out. England must seize the initiative and show why they are a much better team than New Zealand as they look forward to the main event of the summer, The Ashes.
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