England started the ‘new era’ by dismissing the World Test Champions for just 132 inside the first two sessions. However, after a bit of a delay, England quickly gave a recap of their previous era. From 59-1, England didn’t take too long to reach 100-7, losing seven wickets for 41 runs. Most wickets were a result of loose shots rather than genuine wicket-taking balls. England ended Day 1 with 16 runs behind New Zealand, but the way the game has progressed, every run will be vital in terms of the overall lead. We look at a few important points from Day 1 of the first Test at Lord’s.
Anderson’s opening spell
Who else than James Anderson to provide crucial breakthroughs for England? The 39-year-old was at his best right from ball one. After testing Tom Latham in his first over by bowling outside his off stump, he snapped Will Young off a good length ball outside the 4th-5th stump line.
So disciplined was Anderson with his line and length – 4th-5th stump line on a good length – that he didn’t concede a single run of his first 25 balls. Anderson bowled five maidens in his first spell of six overs in the first hour of the morning, picking both the New Zealand openers. The veteran pacer finished the day with figures of 16-6-66-4.
Alex Lees’ 6th stump guard
Alex Lees surprised everyone when he took his guard not on the off stump but outside the off stump. Even with an open stance, his front leg was on or just outside the fourth stump, and his back leg almost on the sixth stump. There is a reason behind this odd but successful stance.
In First-Class cricket, Lees averages 38.7 against the right-arm pacers when they bowl over the wicket. When they bowl round the wicket to him, his average jumps to 58.6. This stance makes it easier for him to judge where his off stump is, enabling him to leave any ball that is in line with his left eye. However, it could also make him susceptible to balls that come back in sharply to target his stumps. Tim Southee did just that, to trap Lees in front of the stumps.
Bairstow’s slip catching
One of the major issues with England in the past has been their slip catching. Often, drops in the slip cordon have hurt and cost England dearly. From 2019 to July 2021, England had the second-worst ‘Slip catching percentage’ of 76%, better than only Bangladesh’s 75%. However, some brilliant catching in the slip cordon was the prime reason behind England reducing the tourists to 7-3, and the man at the centre of it was Jonny Bairstow.
The first three wickets had one thing in common – caught Bairstow. The Yorkshireman took a blinder, diving low to his left to get the first breakthrough in the form of Young. Later, he took another good catch, diving in front after he initially let the ball slip through his hands and the ball rebounded off his chest. After taking the third catch, Bairstow completed 200 catches in his Test career, with 170 of those coming in as a wicket-keeper.
New Zealand have made a stunning late comeback in the match after 17 wickets fell on Day 1. England will hope that on Day 2, Ben Foakes stays longer at the crease, and Broad plays his usual way to get ahead in the game and take a first-innings lead.