Brook (184*), Root (101*) dominate on rain-shortened day in Wellington
SUMMARY: England 315-3 from 65 overs (Harry Brook 184*, Joe Root 101*; Matt Henry 2-64) vs New Zealand
A quite magnificent 184 not out from the prolific Harry Brook put England in the ascendancy on day one of the second and final Test against New Zealand.
With Joe Root also making his first century in eight Tests, England piled on 315-3 before rain arrived in Wellington.
The tourists had been 21-3 after being asked to bat on a green pitch at the Basin Reserve – Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope all falling cheaply.
But Brook batted with all the style, certainty and confidence of a man who now has four hundreds in his first six Tests.
His 169-ball effort was laced with some sublime strokes and moved him to 807 Test runs in total, the most after nine innings for any player in history.
Root, who survived a review for lbw from his first ball and then again on 31, was the perfect foil. Batting at a more modest tempo, the former captain ended unbeaten on 101.
Between them, the Yorkshire pair have added an unbroken 294 for the fourth wicket and left England in the perfect position to push for their seventh-successive Test win and a series triumph that would be New Zealand’s first home defeat in six years.
Master and apprentice bully Black Caps
This had all the ingredients of an intriguing challenge for England’s ultra-aggressive batting line-up, and initially New Zealand looked set to exploit the emerald surface.
With the returning Matt Henry bowling a beautiful opening spell, Crawley was drawn into a nick and Pope played across one to give a thick edge.
Duckett poked a drive and was spectacularly caught one-handed by the diving Michael Bracewell at third slip off Tim Southee.
Brook, though, countered by hitting three fours in a single Southee over and England never looked back.
Whether batting conditions eased or England made them look easier, Brook and Root bullied a New Zealand attack that was a bowler light after the Black Caps chose to lengthen their batting by including Will Young.
While Brook played some breathtaking, almost unbelievable shots, the biggest cheer from the huge contingent of England fans inside a sold-out Basin Reserve was for Root’s hundred, completed in the rain just before the players left the field.
The bad weather gave respite to the New Zealand attack, ending play after only 65 of the scheduled 90 overs had been bowled.
Brilliant Brook flirting with all-time greats
For as brilliant as Brook has been at the start of his Test career – this was his seventh score in excess of 50 – this was his best effort, not only for it being his highest score, but because of the conditions, match situation and his utter dominance of the home attack.
Though Brook has beaten the previous best after nine innings – 798 runs by India’s Vinod Kambli – he has a shot at an even more historic record: the fastest time to reach 1,000 runs is 12 innings, jointly held by England’s Herbert Sutcliffe and West Indian Everton Weekes, two all-time greats.
He moved up and down the gears. Nineteen from his first 11 balls, slowing to 63 from 81. At that point he hit successive sixes of Daryl Mitchell, whose fill-in medium pace was singled out for the harshest treatment.
Brook scored all around the wicket. When New Zealand were full, he played sumptuous drives. When Neil Wagner tried to bounce him, Brook cleared the front leg and thwacked the ball away, baseball-style.
He reached three figures from 107 balls by cutting the off-spin of Bracewell. In doing so, he equalled Sutcliffe in reaching a fourth Test hundred in his ninth innings, an England record.
Brook then went from 100 to 150 in 38 balls and was flying towards what would have been England’s second-fastest Test double-century when the rain arrived, walking off with a Test average that had just gone into three figures at a strike rate of 99. (BBC Sport)