Matthew Potts leads bright start for new England but old batting failings remain

Seam bowler stars on debut at Lord's but New Zealand expose home team's deficiencies

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Out with the old, in with … well, the very old.

Of course, there were some box-fresh features about the first day of the new era for England’s Test cricket team at Lord’s on Thursday.

There was a captain calling the shots all on his own, knowing for the first time he would not have to hand back the job to his mate once the game is finished.

A coach who must have felt peculiar when he entered the pavilion and walked through the Long Room to get to the dressing room, rather than walk straight up the stairs to where the away team get changed instead.

A rookie fast bowler for whom Test cricket is apparently an absolute walk in the park.

Perhaps more novel than anything else was the fact the home team actually held some slip catches. It really is a brave new world.

Yet, for all that, England’s first day under new management was characterised by a couple of things that have been staples for years: James Anderson dominating, and the batters wilting.

The restoration of England’s leading Test wicket-taker to the starting XI to face New Zealand, after it had appeared not so long ago that he had been pensioned off, was met with warm approval.

Ahead of the first ball of the UK summer of international cricket, Anderson was announced as taking the new ball from the Pavilion End. Cue a huge cheer.

England's James Anderson celebrates after taking the wicket of New Zealand's Tim Southee. Action Images

Anderson turns 40 next month. Within six balls of his return, he had proved he has still got it. Within four overs, he had figures of two wickets for zero runs.

He even – briefly – appeared set to have his name etched on to the home team honours board for a remarkable eighth time.

He had Ajaz Patel given out LBW. But Anderson would be denied a five-wicket haul after the Decision Review System ruled there had been an inside edge, and thus spared Patel. In the end, he had to settle for four for 66.

The fact that was not even the main story said so much about what a morning of triumph the first session under captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum was for England.

Anderson had to defer instead to Matthew Potts, the debutant seamer whose day was actually curtailed by a calf strain – but not before he announced his arrival on the scene in vivid terms.

If Potts had been told at the start of this season he would make his Test debut at Lord’s against the world champions, he might have been a little shocked, but very grateful.

To then dismiss an all-time great, Kane Williamson, with his fifth delivery, and end with figures of four for 13? It was the stuff of dreams.

All that did go against England in the field was that calf strain for Potts, two balls in to his 10th over, plus the fact Jack Leach was forced out of the game because of concussion.

The left-arm spinner tumbled awkwardly over the boundary marker when trying to stop a four. England had to make a telephone call up north to recruit Matt Parkinson, the Lancashire leg-spinner who will be the concussion substitute for Leach.

New Zealand’s total of 132 really represented a recovery after they had been 12 for four and 45 for seven. Given how England performed when they had their chance, the extra runs the tail eked out could be crucial.

Of all the disciplines Stokes and McCullum will need to address to improve this England side, the batting is clearly the most urgent.

Both had a graphic example of what needs to be done by the way they subsided in the evening session.

Alex Lees and Zak Crawley did share 59 for the first wicket. From there on, though, it was the customary shambles.

The home side ended the day on 116 for seven with Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme each taking two wickets.

Updated: June 02, 2022, 6:04 PM
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