England agony as promising start to Stokes era gives way to another collapse

By Sports Desk June 02, 2022

England bowled New Zealand out for 132 within two sessions of Ben Stokes' first Test as captain, but the match was back in the balance at the end of day one after yet another batting collapse.

Winless in nine Tests – their worst run in eight years – England's inability to score big dogged them in the final days of Joe Root's leadership.

Perhaps then the Lord's crowd should have known this was too good to be true when Stokes' side followed up a stunning bowling display with a steady start with the bat.

An opening partnership of 59 between Alex Lees (25) and Zak Crawley (43) hinted at a one-sided series opener, only for those old England issues to rear their ugly head.

Root and Stokes were among the wickets to follow in quick succession as a team now overseen by New Zealand great Brendon McCullum bowed under the pressure of the Black Caps attack.

England were 116-7 at stumps, with the final departure of the third session that of Matthew Potts – an improbably miserable ending to a day the Durham bowler will never forget.

In for his debut, Potts had played a starring role in England's fine early work with the ball, requiring just five deliveries to get New Zealand captain Kane Williamson before finishing with figures of 4-13. Only an apparent bout of cramp denied him a shot at a Lord's five-for.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad – two other newsworthy inclusions – also contributed handily, as the returning old-timers got England going with the first three wickets thanks to a trio of fine Jonny Bairstow catches.

Anderson added two more almost identical dismissals – both caught by Potts at the boundary as the Black Caps sought to counter – to finish with 4-66, but he is now set to be back out in the middle with the bat far sooner than he might have imagined, with England still 16 behind.

Anderson at it from the off

Anderson was overshadowed first by Potts and then by his New Zealand counterparts, but he first made sure to provide a reminder of his immense talents with the ball.

New Zealand were 2-2 when Will Young and Tom Latham each departed to Anderson inside five overs, meaning the England great has now dismissed both opening batsmen in 27 Test innings – ahead of Glenn McGrath (26) for the most ever.

New captain, same problems

England did not score 300 once in their dismal away Ashes series that represented the nadir of the Root era, and they will almost certainly fall well short of that mark again in this Test.

Of course, Stokes' side did not even need to reach that total to maintain control of this match, but England struggled just to make three figures on a day for the bowlers on both teams.

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