Dogged England bat to draw with New Zealand
England resisted the temptation of a final-day chase against New Zealand, doggedly batting through to secure a draw in the first Test at Lord’s.
New Zealand’s lunchtime declaration on 169-6 left the tantalising prospect of England chasing 273 in 75 overs.
However, the target was never seriously pursued, with England instead opting for a safety-first approach led by Dom Sibley’s vigilant unbeaten 60 from 207 balls.
England had reached 170-3 when a draw was agreed with five overs remaining.
The second and final Test of the series at Edgbaston begins on Thursday.
To chase or not to chase?
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson’s declaration at the end of a morning when his side bumped along at five runs an over was designed to entice England into a chase that could bring about their downfall.
Perhaps a carefree attempt at a remarkable win would have been a fitting conclusion to England’s first home Test in front of spectators since 2019 on a sun-drenched afternoon at Lord’s.
However, it is understandable that England opted for caution given the inexperience of their team, the absence of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, the quality of the opposition and the deterioration of the pitch.
This has been a Test where New Zealand have held the upper hand, with their chance of winning severely hampered by the loss of the third day to rain.
Some will argue that England should have made a better fist of the chase, but they instead chose to be on level terms going into the series decider.
Questions after England’s difficult week
This has been an uncomfortable week for England for one major reason.
Historical tweets of a racist and sexist nature from debutant Ollie Robinson were a direct contradiction to a message of anti-discrimination the home side displayed on the first morning.
On the field, Robinson was impressive in taking seven wickets and scoring 42 runs, but his actions in 2012 and 2013 leave his immediate international future in doubt.
Plenty of young batsmen will go to Edgbaston in need of a score. Zak Crawley followed his two in the first innings with the same in the second, again aiming a loose drive at Tim Southee.
Dan Lawrence and debutant James Bracey failed to score in their only innings, while Ollie Pope’s cameos are hardly enough to guarantee a long-term place.
At least Sibley ended his run of six successive single-figure scores in Tests, albeit in turgid fashion.
England also have to decide if they want to field a specialist spinner at Edgbaston after the selection of a four-man pace attack and the omission of Jack Leach at Lord’s.
Sibley digs in after New Zealand burst
From 62-2 overnight, New Zealand immediately showed their intent, with Ross Taylor’s sweep for six off Robinson a particular highlight.
Rain brought an early lunch and with it the surprise declaration, but there was never indication England would take the bait.
After his first-innings century, left-hander Rory Burns was troubled by uneven bounce outside his off stump and edged Neil Wagner to second slip. When Crawley fell, New Zealand had an opportunity with almost 43 overs remaining.
By this point, Sibley was digging in. He prodded and poked, only playing at the ball when absolutely necessary.
Root was marginally more enterprising, yet there arrived a point when the crow erupted into ironic cheers when either man showed signs of aggression.
Wagner trapping Root for 40 lbw encouraged New Zealand to press on, leaving Pope to accompany Sibley in the gathering gloom. (BBC Sport)