The third and final Test between England and New Zealand saw a familiar story as Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell joined hands yet again to bail their team out of trouble. On a bright and sunny day at Headingley, the tourists lost a wicket in the very first over after choosing to bat on a tacky-looking pitch. After losing four wickets in the first session, the Black Caps ended the day with a wicketless session to bring some parity. However, England will be pleased with their efforts and will look to pick early wickets on Day 2. We look at some of the key phases of the first day’s play.

Spin dominated Day 1 at Headingley stats England New Zealand Test
Spin dominated Day 1 at Headingley

Latham’s woeful series

Tom Latham, New Zealand’s opener and vice-captain, has had a torrid time in this series. Latham fell to Stuart Broad on the last ball of the first over of the match. This was also the third time that he got out to the back of the length ball from round the wicket. For someone who is known to grind out the opposition, Latham has faced just 121 balls in the series, so far, averaging 9.0. That’s the worst average for any visiting opener in England since 1973.

Latham hasn't fared well in England stats New Zealand Test
Tom Latham hasn’t fared well in England

Latham’s struggles in England aren’t new as he has found it difficult to bat in the swing-friendly conditions. His average of 22.71 in England is his second-lowest in any country, with his worst being 2.66 in South Africa. NZ losing the series has a lot to do with their openers not performing, and Latham would be the first to admit that he has failed to support his team.

An edgy Conway

Devon Conway has been in sublime form across formats for New Zealand since his debut. After his double hundred on debut last year against the same opponents, much was expected out of the versatile southpaw. However, despite showing promise, Conway has failed to build long innings in this series.

Conway likes to play outside the line of the ball. In simple terms, he prefers to push his bat away from the body to chase the ball, rather than keeping the bat close. This creates an opportunity for bowlers, as it exposes the gap between his bat and pad. After a few close shaves, Conway’s technique finally got the better of him as he inside-edged one onto his stumps. This was the sixth time Conway got out of an inside edge out of his 10 dismissals in 2022.

Stuart Broad is just 5 wickets away from Glenn McGrath
Stuart Broad is just 5 wickets away from Glenn McGrath

Spin over swing

It was a remarkable and extraordinary day of Test cricket in England as the hosts bowled 37 overs of spin on the very first day. It was the second-most spin-overs they’ve ever bowled on the first day of a Test in England, behind 38 overs in the 5th Ashes Test of 2013 at The Oval.

Jack Leach, who got a wicket off his first ball of the day, bowled 30 overs – one-third of the day’s quota. Joe Root chipped in with seven overs of his off-spin as well. New Zealand missed a trick by playing within themselves against easier scoring options as they scored at only 2.84 RPO against the spin.

The highlight of the day was yet another big partnership between Mitchell and Blundell, this time an unbeaten 102 runs. The two batters have now played over 1000 balls together in this series. With the second new ball only 10 overs old, England would want to make the best of conditions early on Day 2 to restrict the New Zealand total.