Even when England were chipping away with wickets at the other end, Devon Conway’s innings seemingly never ended before a run-out cut the show short to just 200, taking the visitors to 378. In response, the hosts were rattled by a fine display of seam and swing bowling from the BlackCaps.
Henry Nicholls’ bat does the talking
As we previewed for the start of the series, Henry Nicholls has always been amongst runs for New Zealand but often overshadowed by the performance of other batsmen. While it was Kane Williamson in the innings against Pakistan, it was Devon Conway in Lord’s, who overshadowed him. In spite of that, he took the challenge seriously, putting his bat in between him and his stumps to not allow England to take the driver’s seat.
When Nicholls was out to bat, England seemingly were bowling the good length balls, one against which he averages 60 in Test cricket, with his average against right-arm seamers good from both ends, according to Cricviz. Since 2019, Nicholls has the third-best numbers in the world, averaging 48.30 in the team’s win, which shows his importance in the setup. In the same time period, the left-hander has scored the second-most runs for New Zealand in their wins, 657 runs, averaging 59.73.
Before the close of day 1, he had the least percentage of edges/miss at 14%, with only Latham and Watling having a better record of defensive shots. While he might not have a triple-figure score next to his name on the scoreboard, his innings was invaluable in New Zealand taking it strongly on to day two against the English bowling attack.
Robinson-Wood earn rewards amidst veterans
Seven wickets in between them, Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood - both of whom are playing together for the first time in the English whites, left an indelible mark on the setup. They were not just aggressive, they were in the face of the Kiwis, with their pace and accuracy, after a day of toil in the field. While Robinson troubled the Kiwi batsmen with line and length, Wood did it with ablaze - his pace that came as a thunderbolt. Now for the setup part - Wood’s delivery to dismiss Henry Nicholls was not just another plain bouncer but it was at the right spot, into the blindside for the left-hander.
BJ Watling was undone by the Lord’s slope and Wood’s remarkable release, which came very late from outside the off-stump to dart into the stumps. On the other hand, Robinson took a similar approach - dismissing de Grandhomme was exactly off the plan-book, to dart the ball into the right-hander, who was caught by complete surprise. In fact, according to Cricviz, the ball swung in 0.55 degrees, then seamed in another 0.8 degrees, leaving the all-rounder bamboozled. With a tall release point as well, the Sussex seamer made the fullest use of the conditions in tandem, with Wood, which surely was England’s bowling grace in Lord’s, even with the presence of Stuart Broad and James Anderson. With the India series around the corner, the two have seemingly earned their rewards and sealed their place?
New Zealand’s all-conditions bowling unit
When New Zealand walked out to bowl, the conditions suddenly changed, the ball started to swing more, the bowlers started looking far more threatening than the opening day and that cherry made all sorts of moves. While Tim Southee has previously shown his expertise in the country, Kyle Jamieson, who was playing his first Test in England, proved to be a real handful, bowling the ball full. In contrast to the English bowlers, all four New Zealand bowlers - Jamieson, Southee, Grandhomme and Wagner - averaged more than 2 degrees of swing in Lord’s.
While they were bowling on the same length as the English bowlers, at 5.8m length, they got more purchase, with the ball swinging 2.7 degrees in the first spell from the opening bowlers. Not just that, Wagner, who regularly bowls the short line, also pitched it further up, to get the ball to move. In contrast, for England, the responsibility once again landed on the shoulders of - Rory Burns and Joe Root - who went about their things in characteristic fashion. Both Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley were undone by the late swing and the seam movement generated. What saved Root in his first session of play, was the average interception point, which at 2.08m got to the pitch of the ball. While it looked like a struggle, Burns and Root ensured that there were no further hiccups, with their immaculate technique, especially against a quality bowling attack. Every time New Zealand stepped up, England were already there waiting for them.