Dream start for new England skipper Stokes as Anderson, Broad and Potts deliver early

By Sports Desk June 02, 2022

Ben Stokes' first major selection calls all looked to have gone to plan by lunch on day one of the first Test against New Zealand, who stumbled through to the end of the first session on 39-6.

In England's first Test since naming Stokes as captain and appointing Black Caps great Brendon McCullum as coach, New Zealand won the toss and had the opportunity to apply early pressure.

Instead, recalled veterans James Anderson and Stuart Broad ripped through the top order with the help of Jonny Bairstow.

Bairstow, stationed in a slip cordon that was for so long an issue under Joe Root and Chris Silverwood, took the first three catches, including a sensational effort for the breakthrough wicket of Will Young off the bowling of Anderson.

His impeccable handling, even stooping to catch after juggling Tom Latham off Anderson, stood in stark contrast to what had gone before – England have dropped 70 catches in Tests since the start of 2021, the most of any side.

Bairstow's take from Devon Conway off Broad was far more straightforward between his legs, but New Zealand captain Kane Williamson remained in the middle as Matthew Potts – Stokes' Durham team-mate – took the ball for the first time in his Test debut.

Potts is the leading wicket taker in the County Championship this season, counting 15 top-four batters among his 35 scalps, and he required only five balls to make his mark.

New Zealand came into this match with the best batting strike rate against pace in Test cricket since the start of 2021 (55.3), but Potts' seam delivery teased an outside edge from Williamson, who was caught behind by Ben Foakes.

Potts (3-8) was not done there either, bowling through Daryl Mitchell to scatter his stumps and removing Tom Blundell, too, after earlier being denied by a successful lbw review in a sensational start for the rookie bowler, Stokes and England.

That positivity was only dampened by news of Jack Leach's withdrawal from the Test with concussion symptoms after an awkward fall while chasing a ball in the field.

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