England limped to 160 for the loss of four wickets on a dour first day of the opening Test against New Zealand Lord’s.
It was with some relief that play was called off for the day 10 overs before the scheduled close as rain showers hit London – Englnad had scored at just two an over all day, while the tourists, for all their disciplined bowling, had only been able to prise out four wickets.
There were starts for all England’s batsmen, but no score higher than Jonathan Trott’s 39, and many of the issues which had blighted England’s batting in the reverse series - cautious running, missing hittable deliveries, and careless dismissals - repeated themselves.
Having won the toss and opted to bat first, England looked to blunt the new ball rather than attack.
Alastair Cook and Nick Compton did a good job against the swinging ball, surviving the first hour with ease, if not racing along on the scorecard.
But having nullified Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner, England allowed New Zealand into the contest when Compton, who had yet to hit a boundary in his first 61 balls, tried to launch spinner Bruce Martin down the ground, and ended up holing out at point.
Trott could have followed without scoring, offering Martin a return catch which he could not grasp, but after taking 18 balls to score his first run, he got going after the lunch interval.
Cook, meanwhile, was becalmed, taking half an hour after the interval to score his first runs, and then perishing later in that same over, tickling a ball from Boult to the wicketkeeper with 32 to his name.
Again a partnership threatened to blossom, but as the skies darkened over Lord’s, it was interrupted prematurely. Trott was expertly set up by a delivery which swung away from him, before feathering the next to slip as it swung into him. Dean Brownlie took a sensational catch to seal Trott’s exit.
The rain continued to hold off as New Zealand ploughed through their overs. Spin from Martin cost 37 runs in 24 overs, with 11 nagging maidens – and all this without the Lord’s pitch offering any turn.
And with the second new ball in sight Bell, who had laboured to 31, lazily tickled an edge behind to BJ Watling with an angled bat.
New Zealand were denied a chance to work over Root, who looked well-organised in reaching 25, and Jonny Bairstow by the rain, but will be able to take the second new ball immediately upon the resumption in day two, and will be the happier with their day’s work.