The Lord’s podium was in the sun, the spectators were back and New Zealand had put in a potentially exciting final day of the first Test with the most entrepreneurial statements.
The problem was that England was not in the mood to get involved.
It looked like New Zealand had given England a decent shot at victory against the odds when Kane Williamson surprised everyone – including Sky’s Kiwi commentator Simon Doull – by pulling back at 169 for six and a goal of 273 in a minimum of 75 overs set.
Dom Sibley scored 60* when the first Test between England and New Zealand ended in a draw
The tourists sacked England skipper Joe Root, but Sibley’s score meant the match ended in a draw
Rory Burns grabbed the ball to Tim Southee in the briefs as New Zealand claimed their first wicket
But the unexpected opportunity for Test cricket to put on a show was wasted when England settled for batting practice rather than making any attempt to support Joe Root’s pre-series claim that he wanted to win all seven Tests this summer.
Instead, the first game of a full international summer was drawn and there were plenty who would also love to see him hanged and quartered after a terrifying final day.
There was certainly a hollow note in Root’s optimistic words as Dom Sibley crept on into what became the most meticulous and old-fashioned of undefeated half-centuries.
So defensive and downright dull was Sibley that there was even a bit of ironic cheers from the 7,000 fans who reveled in the chance to be back at the home of cricket when he managed to force Neil Wagner down a ride for two.
By that point, Sibley had made 22 of his first 100 balls and at least England were on their way to salvaging that draw from a test they could very well have lost had it not been for all of Friday’s washing and leaving New Zealand to play. run .
New Zealand’s Ross Taylor crushed the English bowling alley on his way to 33 runs from 35 balls
Sibley, with six consecutive single digit scores behind him, took 21 balls to get off goal and did little to stop Kyle Jamieson from five straight girls.
There was at least some acceleration from England after that before finishing at 170 for three with five overs not bowled, Sibley hitting 60 of 207 deliveries and Root spent some time in the middle making 40 of his own.
But this will go down in history as a largely forgettable start to a full eight months that Root hopes will end with lifting the Ashes urn on his third attempt as captain.
They will certainly have to show a much more positive intention if they are to have any chance of winning the second Test starting Thursday in Edgbaston, and then the five against India before taking on Australia in what remains the biggest series of the series. mall.
Ollie Robinson (right) took England’s first wicket of the day, catching Neil Wagner
Still, it must be said that there were plenty of extenuating circumstances which, while not really excusing England’s caution, at least somewhat explain it.
This, remember, is a weakened England missing at least four players who would have been automatic selections in Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes. And three who would have had a claim in Sam Curran, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali.
It’s certainly hard to imagine Williamson being so adventurous if England had the opportunity to open their chase with Stokes and Buttler, as they did last year’s win against the West Indies at Old Trafford.
Stuart Broad (center) celebrates his first Test wicket in 82 overs by getting Tom Latham lbw
And it should also be remembered that this is a formidable New Zealand side, missing only Trent Boult of the best XI who earned their place in the World Test Championship final against India later this month, ahead of both England and Australia. .
There was swing and uneven bounce for New Zealand’s first-class attack, led by Tim Southee, to take advantage of what was essentially a fourth day Lord’s pitch, and take advantage of the lack of experience in the English batting lineup .
Spin and bounce out of the rough too, for Mitchell Santner too, though he struggled with a finger injury that briefly led Williamson to go to his own part-time off-spin.
Southee, excellent at taking six wickets in the first innings, was excellent again on Sunday, finding a spot on the pitch bowling around the wicket of the Pavilion End that kicked the ball into first innings century player Rory Burns.
Mark Wood (left) took Taylor’s wicket, which was England’s morning third at Lord’s
But it was Wagner who got Burns this time – and Root later – just when the southpaw wanted to be more assertive before Southee lured Zak Crawley, a batsman who wanted to be absolutely positive, to his second fatal test single run.
And if they’d all come out cheap playing like Crawley did and England kicked out for 100, we wouldn’t have been happy about that either.
To be fair, we would have slaughtered them for their indiscipline.
The bottom line is that England thought there was more to it in an opener in Sibley that they want to bring to Australia through extensive training against a world-class attack rather than failing again in pursuit of an ambitious goal.
And a draw should still be a valid result in Test cricket, regardless of age impatience.
Rory Burns catches Henry Nicholls at Joe Root’s bowling alley as New Zealand batter faltered
The most encouraging aspect of the early part of the final day for England was once again the appearance of debutant Ollie Robinson who added a third wicket at night watchman Wagner to finish with seven in his first match.
And that, along with his first innings 42, showed that Robinson is very much at home in Test cricket and deserves more chances against India and probably Australia.
It can only be hoped that the ECB draws a line under its teenage indiscretions on Twitter and moves on after serving what feels like a harsh punishment after its second Test ban was confirmed last night.