First Test: England v New Zealand
Venue: Lord’s. Dates: 21-25 May. Start time: 11:00 BST. Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles, BBC Sport app & BBC iPlayer Radio app; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & mobile devices
If day one of the first Test between England and New Zealand at Lord’s was champagne cricket, then day two was more about graft.
That’s not to say it was a poorer spectacle, it was just more of what we expect from a Test, but still a good day to watch.
It belonged to the tourists, who wrapped the England innings up for 389 then moved to 303-2, only 86 runs behind.
England, though, will rue a couple of missed opportunities that could have altered the course of the play.
The first came when Mark Wood, the Durham seamer making his debut, had Martin Guptill caught at slip, only for replays to show that Wood had overstepped. At the time, Guptill had 24 and went on to make 70.
On the one hand you sympathise with Wood and the cruel way he was denied a first Test wicket. But ultimately, he will know that only he is to blame.
Who knows what that wicket would have done for his confidence? I like the look of him, not least because he’s got pace.
Wood’s approach is quite unusual, a springing step into a bounding run that makes him look like he’s been released out of a catapult. He has a strong action that is slightly open-chested and may one day produce some reverse swing.
If the catch off Guptill had not been a no-ball, then perhaps he would have taken a couple more wickets. It is all ifs, buts and maybes.
The same can be said for Ian Bell’s dropped catch from the bowling of Ben Stokes. At second slip, Bell put down a chance from Tom Latham, who was allowed to move from 21 to 59.
Drops have been a feature of England’s indifferent run over the past 18 months. Catching and winning are interlinked. You takes catches when you’re winning and you win because you take your catches.
England put down chances in the drawn series in the West Indies and day two at Lord’s had a similar feeling to those days in the Caribbean.
Alastair Cook’s side tried hard to make something happen on a pitch suited to batting then missed the opportunities they worked so hard to create.
In fairness to England, they bowled well, mainly on a full length. They were seldom cut or pulled, a display much improved on the shambolic bowling performance in the defeat by India on this ground last summer.
Ex-England batsman Geoffrey Boycott on BBC Test Match Special
“Nothing went the England bowlers’ way. When they tried to bounce the batsmen out, short balls were easy to pull on this pitch. I don’t think the England seamers did anything wrong, they just couldn’t make headway.”
Some suggested they failed to show any creativity and it is true that they waited until late in the day before asking Stokes and Stuart Broad to pepper Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor with some short-pitched bowling. At least they tried it.
In reality they ran in to some very good New Zealand batting on a surface that offered precious little help.
We wondered how the Black Caps would adjust after so many of their players came straight from the Indian Premier League, but modern batsmen are used to switching between formats.
It is said that the Kiwis can be dashing, but here they collectively displayed proper Test-match batting, perhaps because they realise this pitch will deteriorate and may well be very tough on which to bat last.
For that reason, the early exchanges on Saturday, with the new ball due three overs into the day, are absolutely crucial.
If New Zealand get through that period, with the likes of Brendon McCullum still to come, then they could go well past England’s total and subject Cook’s men to the type of pressure which made them crumble in the final Test against West Indies.
England, on the other hand, will want early wickets to limit New Zealand and still have the opportunity to set a stiff fourth-innings target.
It promises to be a fascinating day.
Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport’s Stephan Shemilt.
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