3rd over: New Zealand 6-1 (Young 2, Williamson 4) England do have a cunning plan for Kane Williamson: get him strangled down the leg side. And it very nearly works first ball! Stokes posts a leg slip, Broad goes straighter than usual, Williamson takes the bait, and the ball flies between Ben Foakes and that leg slip, Ollie Pope. Thereafter Broad reverts to type, bowling fifth-stump, and Williamson watches the ball go by until the end of the over, when Broad produces a beauty, angled in, swinging away and missing the edge. Good contest!
2nd over: New Zealand 2-1 (Young 2, Williamson 0) In the absence of Jimmy Anderson, Matthew Potts gets a promotion. On debut, at Lord’s, he kept making things happening in his first over, but this time it’s only a clip for two from Will Young to get NZ off the mark.
A replay shows that Joe Root, on taking the catch, charged off to embrace Jack Leach. “Did Leach have a cunning plan?” wonders one of the commentators. If so, it was quite a familiar one: bowl in the channel and wait for the nick.
1st over: New Zealand 0-1 (Young 0, Williamson 0) And here comes a very out-of-form NZ captain. For once, England are making Test cricket look easy.
First blood to Broad! After leaving a few, Latham send a classic nick into the hands of first slip. Are you David Warner in disguise?
The anthems have been sung and the ball is in the hands of a man in a bandana: Stuart Broad.
England are not on trial today, for once, but Headingley is. Yorkshire CCC has had a shocker, as Sky has just shown with a quick guide to the racism scandal. “Cricket needs better leadership,” says Mike Atherton. “From both Yorkshire and the ECB.” Amen to that.
Yorkshire’s love of cricket is not in doubt. But it’s a shame that England, with Jofra Archer injured and Moeen Ali still theoretically unavailable, are putting out a less than multicultural XI. On this front, as on a few others, Eoin Morgan’s white-ball team lead the way.
“With the Ashes only 13 months away,” says Pete Salmon, “surely it’s time to start tinkering with the team so the best possible XI runs out in July 2023?” Ha. They did overdo the tinkering last year, but some of the objections to tinkering are based on a fallacy – that there’s a clear first XI that we can all agree on.
“What’s the weather looking like?” asks Tintenfische on Twitter. “Whole days play?” Yes – cloudy with sunny spells, according to the Met Office. But there’s rain around for the other four days, with tomorrow looking particularly dicey.
Jimmy Anderson drops out with a niggly ankle, though he might have been rested anyway. And the Overton window opens – for Jamie, making his England debut, rather than his twin brother Craig, who arrived in the world three minutes earlier and on the Test scene three years earlier. As bowlers, they are far from identical: Craig is line and length, Jamie fire and brimstone. Craig has just given Jamie his first Test cap, becoming the first twin brother to carry out that happy duty, and also probably the first guy to do it for someone who has just felled him with a bouncer.
England 1 Zak Crawley, 2 Alex Lees, 3 Ollie Pope, 4 Joe Root, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Ben Stokes (capt), 7 Ben Foakes (wkt), 8 Jamie Overton, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Matthew Potts, 11 Jack Leach.
Williamson returns, NZ bat deep, and there’s an overdue recall for Neil Wagner, their unsung hero.
New Zealand 1 Tom Latham, 2 Will Young, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Devon Conway, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 Daryl Mitchell, 7 Tom Blundell (wkt), 8 Michael Bracewell, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Neil Wagner, 11 Trent Boult.
Kane Williamson is back and he’s got one thing right already, possibly two. He wins the toss and likes the look of the pitch, which has already been described by one commentator as “a featherbed”.
Morning everyone and welcome to another day of international cricket. If it’s Thursday, it must be a Test match. About 19 hours after one England XI sealed a one-day series in the Netherlands, another will take the field at Headingley to see if they too can pull off a clean sweep. Or should that be a clean reverse sweep, now that the Test team have become as buccaneering as their white-ball brethren.
It’s time to buckle up again and enjoy the ride. Ben Stokes says England will go even harder this time, a plan that may involve rewriting the laws of physics. New Zealand, who won the World Test Championship only a year ago, are due a win, and they did make 550 after being put in to bat. But England have our old friend Mo Mentum on their side, as well as a new-manager bounce from Brendon McCullum, the super-enabler whose fingerprints can still be found on New Zealand’s spirited style of play.
This game is at Headingley, where it’s easy to picture either set of seamers having a ball – or getting a pasting if the sun comes out. The fastest of them will be Jamie Overton, making his Test debut at the expense of his twin Craig. There is, as ever, no shortage of sub-plots, so do keep this window open. Play starts at 11am UK time, 10pm in New Zealand, and I’ll be back 25 minutes before that with news of the toss.