JIMMY ANDERSON captured two late wickets as England signalled their first day of Test cricket in 2023 with another full-on display of ‘Bazball.’
Anderson and Ollie Robinson reduced New Zealand to 37-3 in reply to England’s 325-9 declared at the close of day one of the First Test at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.
James Anderson of England celebrates his wicket of Henry Nicholls of New Zealand
England’s Ben Duckett was one of the heroes of the First Test
Harry Brook is one of England’s least experienced batters and made a score in the 80s
It came after Ben Duckett and Harry Brook – England’s two least experienced batters – made scores in the 80s at better than a run-a-ball.
Former skipper Joe Root was out attempting a reverse ramp and Stokes declared in the 59th over with England having blazed away at better than five runs-an-over.
These types of exploits would have been considered remarkable less than a year ago.
Under Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, they are routine.
Then, with the pink ball glowing under the floodlights, Anderson and Robinson made significant inroads into the Blackcaps’ top-order.
Robinson had left-hander Tom Latham held via bat and pad by Ollie Pope at short leg and then Anderson removed star batter Kane Williamson lbw on review after he had initially been given not out.
This is now the 21st year on the trot that Anderson has taken a Test wicket, stretching all the way back to 2003.
He snared another minutes later when another leftie, Henry Nicholls, was caught at second slip by Zak Crawley.
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Crawley had earlier dropped an absolute dolly when Devon Conway on nine edged Anderson towards his midriff.
Earlier, after New Zealand chose to bowl first, Crawley himself was dropped from the second ball of the match.
He was then bowled by a Neil Wagner no-ball.
But the Kent batter could not capitalise on his fortune and soon perished at third slip.
Duckett was soon reeling off a string of boundaries – hitting ten fours on his way to a half-century from 36 deliveries.
He was the latest to challenge Gilbert Jessop’s record for England’s fastest Test century from 76 balls, set all the way back in 1902.
But Jessop’s figure stands for the time being.
Duckett was also on course to become only the seventh batter in history to score a century in the first session of the first day of a Test match.
But, having made 84, Duckett drove his 64th ball straight to cover.
Debutant bowler Blair Tickner, complete with moustache and mullet haircut, had his first Test wicket.
Pope played attractively for 42 before edging an attempted drive to second slip.
Then Root, once captain sensible, connected with one of his reverse slaps and the ball went for four.
But he tried again and Wagner and this time the ball glanced the under-edge of his bat and Daryl Mitchell anticipated well in the slips and held a catch.
When Stokes pulled a catch to mid-wicket – and gave Scott Kuggeleijn a first Test scalp – England were 209-5.
But Brook and Ben Foakes counter-attacked – of course they did – and England had advanced to 279-5 by the dinner break.
Left-armer Wagner then launched into his favourite tactic of bombarding batters with bouncers.
He struck Brook on the side of helmet and then, in his next over, the Yorkshireman attempted a pull shot and succeeded only in deflecting the ball back onto his stumps.
So Brook failed by 11 runs to score his third Test century in successive innings and his fourth in four Tests on the trot.
Brook has a remarkable 569 runs in his first seven Test innings – the most by an England player and fourth on the list of batters from all countries.
Broad, Foakes and Jack Leach followed in quick succession as they aimed mighty slogs.
It was obvious a declaration was imminent and, sure enough, Stokes called a halt without No11 Anderson even leaving the dressing-room.
Anderson’s main job is with the ball. And he did it superbly once more.