Cricket - Southee sparks England collapse

Tim Southee took two wickets in successive balls, and England lost four for nine runs, as a sudden collapse took hold on the second morning of the first Investec Test against New Zealand.

PA Sport
Cricket - Southee sparks England collapse
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Tim Southee, right, celebrates the dismissal of Matt Prior

Day one of this two-match series was notable for a mere two-an-over scoring rate on an untypically slow surface.

On Friday, as Southee and Neil Wagner (three for 69) found telling swing under cloud cover, England's crawl turned to a dramatic stumble - and a lunchtime 209 for eight.

Only four wickets fell in 80 overs on Thursday, and none in the first hour here as Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow dealt with the initial threat from the second new ball. The young Yorkshire pair had to contend with increasingly murky conditions - with the floodlights in use - and swing too, thanks to Wagner in particular up the slope from the nursery end.

There were no serious alarms, if still a stranglehold on the run rate, up to morning drinks. But within half-an-hour, slow scoring was decidedly no longer England's principal problem. First, Root's prolific run of form - almost 700 first-class runs this summer in only five attempts - was interrupted by a mode of dismissal every batsman dreads, a thin edge down the leg-side to go caught-behind.

If Southee had a little fortune on his side to end Root's 114-ball stay, it was skill not luck that did for next man Matt Prior. The England wicketkeeper, New Zealand's stumbling block with his heroic unbeaten century in the famous draw at Auckland the last time these two teams met less than two months ago, was gone in the blink of an eye.

Southee discarded his stock away swing to angle one into Prior and strike him on the pad first ball. Umpire Steve Davis' judgment that the ball would have hit leg-stump, despite the Lord's camber, was then duly vindicated by DRS.

Stuart Broad denied Southee a hat-trick at least, but when he reached the other end he did not even trouble DRS after being hit in front as Wagner swung another up the slope and England recorded two ducks in successive overs.

Graeme Swann provided the briefest of respites with a square-driven four off Wagner, before falling in the left-armer's next over when he wafted an edge for wicketkeeper BJ Watling's fourth catch of the innings.

England had faltered to 201 for eight, but in Bairstow - on the ground where he made 95 and 54 as Kevin Pietersen's understudy against South Africa last year - they still had a specialist batsman to try to eke out a few more.

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