In April, just after being dropped off in India, Rory Burns suggested he might have to make his way back into the test team.
It was the reaction of a player who had not accepted his fate, a complaint reinforced by the fact that all his teammates except Joe Root had struggled as well.
On Saturday, as if to confirm that others had been wrong in doubting him, Burns went from scapegoat to savior – if not seamlessly, then bravely, last man after making his third Test hundred and hitting two hits. got the head. Above all, he had helped England avoid a collapse on their first outing of the summer.
Rory Burns Helped England Avoid Meltdown With Hundred At Lord’s On Day Four
Without Burns’ 132 England would have been way out of the game on the fourth day
At Stumps, New Zealand was 62 for two in their second innings, an overall lead of 165. Without Burns’s 132, chiseled out in seven minutes under eight hours, their advantage could be decisive.
Root had announced his goal on the eve of the game: win all seven home tests and arrive in Australia this winter with a swagger. It felt ambitious when he said it, and a veritable frenzy when England dropped to 140 to six on the fourth morning, still 238 behind.
The captain himself had dropped the first ball of the day for 42, caught low on Ross Taylor’s first slip of the hulking Kyle Jamieson. Root was soon followed by Ollie Pope for 22, then Dan Lawrence and debutant James Bracey for ducks—all for forensic Tim Southee.
At the time, everything seemed to fit a horrific week for English cricket. On Wednesday, their public commitment to tackle various forms of discrimination was immediately undermined by the discovery of racist and sexist tweets by Ollie Robinson.
Two days later, the ECB was forced to deny claims of institutional racism by former umpires John Holder and Ismail Dawood.
Tim Southee was on top form taking six wickets for 43 to bowl England at Lord’s
A peach of a Southee delivery made James Bracey’s stump cartwheels to Lord’s
A batting collapse was minor under the circumstances. Likewise, it did little to counteract the feeling of an attacked disposition on and off the field. The sequel loomed for a moment; the sun shone exclusively on New Zealand.
But the mood changed when Burns was joined by Robinson. On the second day he had shown character with the ball and now he did so with the bat, taking the lead on a recovering seventh wicket score of 63 with some meaty cuts and tufts.
One of Root’s other pre-match requests was capable of runs for a lower order, and Robinson comfortably filled a number 8 slot that was once home to as good a player as Moeen Ali.
By the time he had a pull-to-long leg and Southee handed his fifth wicket, he had scored 42. If the ECB bans Robinson from this week’s second Test in Edgbaston, at least he has left his mark on something other than social media.
Kyle Jamieson got the ball rolling by rejecting Joe Root the first ball when England collapsed
Root made a quick exit as the delighted Jamieson sent him off with the first ball of the day
There was some hesitation at first but replays showed Ross Taylor (center) taking a clean catch in the briefs to sack the England captain
On the other hand, Burns had barely turned the engine on, let alone located the gear lever. By lunchtime, he had added 13 to his overnight 59. When Robinson fell in the 85th, Burns had 82. Ordinary sailing was not.
He had already survived one shot, at 77, from a BJ Watling punch from Mitchell Santner’s left arm spin. Then, at 88, Burns was dropped by Southee on Neil Wagner on the second slip; Taylor grabbed the rebound in vain.
And when Stuart Broad was ninth, for a total of 223, Burns had 91. Now, with only Anderson for company, he changed from John Edrich to Garry Sobers, rushing through the 1990s, then recording three fours in one over. Jamieson.
Moments later, he dragged Wagner to Old Father Time – his first six in Test cricket. Lord’s came alive. When he fatally nibbled on Southee, the last wicket had added 52.
Southee calls on Ollie Pope lbw wicket – it was not originally given by the umpire but was not judged
Pope had to walk after scoring 22 as ball tracker showed he hit center and leg stump
Like New Zealand opener Devon Conway on Thursday, Burns had come in moments to carry his bat. Unlike Conway, he left a patchy run: 78 runs in eight innings against Pakistan and India, plus a missed tour of Sri Lanka due to paternity leave, and those drops in Ahmedabad. An Ashes journey will seem more tangible after this.
Southee now had his country’s top two analyzes at Lord’s, his six-for-43 better than his own six-for-50 in 2013. Had the third day not been washed away, his contribution might have been match-winning.
And while he bowled beautifully, he was helped by the England line-up. Zak Crawley had already fallen into a loose drive on the second night, but Lawrence’s wrist fiddle to the third slip was worse – a man’s shot at 100, not zero. The left-handed Bracey then managed to miss what was no more than a straight ball.
England is without Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Ali for various reasons. But if this was an opportunity for their collection of young hopefuls to prove their point, they failed en masse. For Lawrence, who had concluded the India tour with scores of 46 and 50, it was mainly empty.
Dan Lawrence played a terrible shot to single out Colin de Grandhomme at slip off Southee
Southee celebrates after removing Lawrence without scoring – his third wicket of the innings
James Bracey was then spectacularly thrown to a duck when Southee struck again
New Zealand celebrate Bracey’s wicket, leaving England totter at 140 for six minutes
Still, by overseeing the addition of 135 for the last four wickets, Burns had moved the dial of this test from a defeat in England to a draw.
That scenario seemed more likely as New Zealand’s opening players took their time as the shadows lengthened, limited to defense by the unfortunate eminence of Anderson and Broad.
But it was Robinson who made the breakthroughs. First he threw Conway from an inside edge for 23. Then, after Kane Williamson was spared an lbw decision by a soft edge, Robinson liked the technology more.
Richard Kettleborough’s decision seemed reasonable enough, and Root’s last decision to call for a review had an air of desperation. But ball-tracking had the leg-before appeal hitting the top of the leg, and Williamson’s curiously mediocre test record in England — he has an average of 26 out of 10 innings — continued.
Walking away with numbers of 9-4-8-2, Robinson looked like a cricketer of substance. Nothing will erase the memory of those tweets, but runs and wickets could have at least eased the pain.
Opener Rory Burns continued his progress as the wickets tumbled on the other side
Lord’s looked at a photo under a blue sky on the fourth day after the third was washed away