England’s decision to declare on 325-9 was vindicated by three late wickets on day one of the day-night first Test against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui.
Ollie Robinson had Tom Latham caught at short leg, then James Anderson trapped Kane Williamson lbw and had Henry Nicholls caught at second slip to leave the Black Caps 37-3, trailing by 288.
England wanted to be bowling with the pink ball under floodlights and their declaration after 58.2 overs was the second-earliest in the first innings of a match in the history of Test cricket.
After the tourists were asked to bat, opener Ben Duckett stroked a flowing 84 off 68 balls in the first session and Harry Brook enhanced his rapidly growing reputation with a sublime 89 from 81.
At other times, England’s desire to be aggressive tipped over into carelessness. They lost three wickets for 37 runs early in the day, while a final slip of 4-27 prompted the declaration and left pace bowler Neil Wagner with 4-82.
The pitch looks good for batting and the ball moved most in the night session – New Zealand might have been well placed to bat in the daytime on Friday had England not been so incisive late in the day.
Instead England, with nine wins in their past 10 Tests, snatched the upper hand.
England Late Show Leaves Them On Top
This was a fascinating first day at a stunning venue, made all the more intriguing by the opposite styles of the two teams and the extra layer of complexity brought by the pink ball.
New Zealand will have been satisfied by their decision to field first after they worked through the visitors’ batting with an attack containing debutants Blair Tickner and Scott Kuggeleijn, only for England to trump the hosts with their late strikes.
It might have been even better for England. Almost all of their batters were complicit in their own downfall, with strokes ranging from loose to reckless.
It is a hyper-aggressive style that has brought England their recent success. To revel in the thrilling wins means accepting the times when the cavalier approach does not work. Still, England should probably have cashed in further against the inexperienced home bowling line-up.
The declaration in the floodlit final session was not unexpected – captains less innovative than Ben Stokes have made similar moves in previous day-night Tests.
From there, England were magnificent with the ball and would have had a fourth wicket had Zak Crawley not dropped Devon Conway off Anderson.
With the injured Jonny Bairstow waiting in the wings, England’s top seven know there will soon be one of them missing out.
On a day when the rest perished trying to force the scoring, Duckett and Brook showed their class, both flirting with Gilbert Jessop’s 121-year-old record for England’s fastest Test hundred – 76 balls – which will surely fall soon.
In his first Test outside of Asia, Duckett played sweet drives and whips off his pads. He could have had a hundred in the first session, but drove to cover to give Tickner his maiden scalp.
Brook looks a superstar in waiting. When England were 154-4, he began calmly, taking 11 from his first 17 balls. When he clicked into gear, he struck 65 off his next 39.
With New Zealand trying to stay clear of Brook’s strong leg-side game, he simply caressed the ball through off, usually with powerful cuts. A six over long-off off home captain Tim Southee was imperious.
Brook was on course for a fourth hundred in as many Tests – only Ken Barrington has achieved that feat for England before – until he fell to Wagner’s bumper barrage. A bottom edge hit the ground, then ricocheted on to the stumps after hitting Brook, sparking the beginning of England’s final slide. BBC