James Anderson became the fourth England bowler to 300 Test wickets, but New Zealand fared better on day two of the first Test at Lord’s.
Anderson’s three wickets took him to 301, and he bowled with customary precision, control and threat. But his fellow bowlers failed to back him up as New Zealand reached 153 for four by the time bad light forced the close.
The Black Caps trail by just 79 runs with six first-innings wickets in hand, after England’s go-slow batting effort folded into a total of 232 all out, their lowest completed Test innings at Lord’s for eight years.
Despite it being New Zealand’s day, however, one good session from the hosts tomorrow could give them the advantage, and with Graeme Swann already finding turn they do have the bowlers to get through New Zealand swiftly.
Resuming on 160 for four, two young Yorkshire batsmen, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, started England off on day two, but the pace they set was just as ambling as it had been on the opening day.
New Zealand, who took the new ball and had Tim Southee and Trent Boult swap ends, failed to settle into the quite the same groove.
But once Root, who had composed a calm 40, perished to Southee in a leg-side strangle, the rot set in. Matt Prior was beaten by a sharp inswinger first ball, and Stuart Broad followed the next over for a duck with a plumb lbw at the hands of Neil Wagner.
Wagner then accounted for Swann, finding a faint outside edge that BJ Watling gratefully grabbed.
It exposed England’s cautious play – they had seen plenty of bowling, but had been surviving rather than building.
After lunch, New Zealand soon grabbed the last two wickets, with Steven Finn leg-before to Southee for four, while Bairstow, finally trying to up the ante, saw a powerful drive plucked out of the air by the same bowler on his follow-through with 41 to his name.
England needed a quick response - and through Anderson they got it. An away-swinger across Hamish Rutherford was held by skipper Alastair Cook to remove him for four in the first over. A spell of disciplined bowling from him and Stuart Broad followed, and Anderson claimed his 300th victim when Peter Fulton tickled behind to second slip.
Having created some pressure, England lost their way as Ross Taylor came out swinging. His counter-attacking innings was quite unlike anything England - or Taylor's team-mates, for that matter - had mustered. He raced to 50 in 49 balls, with a series of cuts and drives, and by the time he fell on 66 to an Anderson inswinger they had settled into their response.
Swann found occasional but sharp turn, and Kane Williamson (44 not out) had to ride his luck at times. Anderson drew an edge, and Prior dropped a relatively simple chance to catch him. Later, New Zealand's number three was strangled down the leg side by Finn - but only hot spot, the Snickometer and Nick Compton at midwicket noticed.
Too often, though, Broad and Finn were innocuous, and when Finn got the wicket of Dean Brownlie (23) after a successful review for lbw, it came as something of a surprise.
All three results remain possible, but that is despite two underwhelming days with bat and ball from England.
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