Stuart Broad set the tone for an impressive bowling performance in England as they began their quest for a winning streak over New Zealand, but a mistake of judgment cost dearly on the first day at Headingley.
Just four months after Yorkshire’s right to host international cricket was restored, with sanctions lifted at the height of the racism scandal, an exciting third test of LV= Insurance began at the venue as New Zealand held on to 225 out of five.
The batting conditions seemed fair, but Broad kept up the week of celebration by hitting before a run was added, followed by a key scalp of Kane Williamson before lunch. The day after the announcement that he and his fiancée Molly King were expecting their first child, and the day before his 36th birthday, Broad went about business as usual as he led the attack in the absence of James Anderson.
Every wicket for Jack Leach and debutant Jamie Overton, the latter opening his international tally by shattering Devon Conway’s stumps, allowed England to stay ahead of the game before they squandered a golden chance to cheaply sack bogeymen Daryl Mitchell.
He had only eight points when Matthew Potts hit him in the center and leg with a full sweeping kick, but neither referee Marais Erasmus nor skipper Ben Stokes were convinced by his loud call.
Mitchell’s reprieve was confirmed when Stokes allowed the DRS meter to reset to zero without a signal, and a player who had recently gone several centuries in a row cashed out to reach 78 rather than lose.
Huge luck allowed Leach to take a second wicket in unusual circumstances, Henry Nicholls caught from a deflection after hitting Mitchell’s mid-bat on the end of a non-hitter, but the latter’s unbeaten stance at 102 with Tom Blundell – their third three-figure effort together in the same the number of games – left things even on the stumps.
With a clear blue sky overhead and a dry, grass-free field underfoot, Headingley’s wisdom of “looking up, not down” proved moot: both views told the same story.
Williamson duly made an easy decision to bat first, but was soon on his way to fold with a draw on the side. When Anderson was injured, Broad’s habit of staying in the spotlight came to the fore when the last ball in his first over took Tom Latham by surprise as he hesitantly ducked the shot.
Throwing a new ball from Potts and a first look at Overton, who first hit the bouncer at 88 mph, were happily matched, but an early look at Leach’s left-handed spin did the trick.
His first ball drifted and straightened out, trapping Will Young, who was crouched on defense. A promising first session turned into a great one for England when Broad was coaxed back for a second period before lunch and sent Williamson off for 31 with a thinly disguised leg kick that grabbed and took the lead.
New Zealand had a lot of work to do at 65 for three, but the dangerous Conway (26) was just getting started when he pulled the returning Overton into his stumps with a sloppy drive. Surrey’s Quick was applauded from the balcony by twin brother Craig, whom he eliminated from the final XI.
Potts wanted to get into the story with his elbows, but he was out of luck when a couple of screams about fat men shrugged off. The first, against Nicholls at four, was ruled out on review as a slight possibility of an inside advantage could not be ruled out.
The second, much more devastating to the cause, hit Mitchell at shin level as it slammed into the tail. Potts was quite sure, but when Erasmus rejected him, Stokes could not be persuaded.
If he had signaled, Mitchell would have been on his way to 97 within five. England were briefly bolstered by a piece of Nicholls’ bad luck just before tea: a well-placed shot from his partner’s bat landed perfectly on Alex Lees in the middle of the match, only to be ripped off by Mitchell.
He played with the same energetic energy he had shown since he landed in England, sweeping and hauling long before the second of two spiral sixes from an overworked Leach passed 50.
Mitchell and Blundell (45) have the two highest positions in the series so far – 236 at Trent Bridge and 195 at Lorde – and matched again as England tired and Stokes mysteriously left off the attack.
To compound the injury, England considered Potts’ underhanded appeal, when Mitchell had 60, Stokes was again on the wrong side as replays showed the bat was off.