McCullum takes his chance to repel England
New Zealand 386 and 134 for 1 (Richardson 46*, McCullum 72*) lead England 441 (Strauss 112, Trescothick 86, Flintoff 63) by 79 runs
On another see-saw day, honours again ended just about even on the third day of the first Test at Lord's. After New Zealand took control of the morning session with four wickets, Andrew Flintoff and Geraint Jones added a rollicking stand of 105 to boost England to 441 all out. However, an opportune 72 not out by Brendon McCullum, in an unbroken hundred stand with Mark Richardson, helped his side to close on 134 for 1, and with a lead of 79.
In keeping with the game so far, just when one side was getting a grip of the match, the other came bouncing back. New Zealand began brightly with those early wickets, Flintoff and Jones then took control with a host of booming boundaries before New Zealand again hit back with the ball - and then with the bat.
They struck as early as the fourth over of the day. Mark Butcher rocked back to cut Daniel Vettori, but got the faintest of under-edges through to McCullum for 26 (254 for 3). Nasser Hussain started confidently, driving and sweeping Vettori for four, and adding a valuable partnership with Matthew Hoggard, the nightwatchman. However, Hoggard's brave resistance came to an end when he nicked a Jacob Oram short ball to McCullum for a gutsy 15 (288 for 4).
The pitch began to showed signs of uneven bounce as play progressed, and Chris Cairns made it New Zealand's morning when Graham Thorpe chopped onto his stumps for 3 (297 for 5). Then it was Chris Martin's turn to shine when he uprooted Hussain's middle stump. Hussain went for the drive and the ball nipped back off the slope between the gate (311 for 6).
However, Flintoff and Jones launched a blistering attack after lunch to put England back on track and give their side a first-innings lead. Both played their natural attacking games, and to some effect. It was a procession of boundaries. Flintoff signalled the charge by lifting Daryl Tuffey over third man for six, and he then smacked four more boundaries in quick succession.
Jones was even more impressive. He clipped Oram off his legs for four and effortlessly flicked Vettori down the ground for six. Next came two searing cuts off Tuffey, the first of which gave England the lead. But just as a maiden half-century was in his sight, it was the forgotten man of the game so far, Scott Styris, who came up trumps for New Zealand. Jones cut a short, wide ball straight to Oram at point to close an entertaining 46 in his first home Test (416 for 7).
Flintoff carried on the fun. He cracked Oram into the Mound Stand, and then brought up his half-century with a front-foot cut off Tuffey. He flicked Styris over mid-on for a one-bounce four and cut Martin for yet another boundary, but, as he has a habit of doing, Flintoff then gave his wicket away. Going for another big drive, he skewed Martin in the air towards deep mid-off, where Richardson took a good catch (428 for 8).
It was big turning point in the day, as New Zealand then pounced to take the initiative. Simon Jones was clean bowled by Martin for 4 (441 for 9), and Ashley Giles then spooned Styris to Oram, who took his second catch of the innings at point to close the innings with a 55-run lead.
England poked their noses in front again with the early fall of Stephen Fleming in New Zealand's second innings. He tried to clip Stephen Harmison through the leg side, but hit the ball onto his thigh pad to short leg, where Hussain defied all of his 36 years to take an athletic catch diving forwards (7 for 1).
But enter McCullum to swing the pendulum back. Batting in place of the unwell Nathan Astle, he was lucky to survive a caught-behind appeal off Flintoff second ball, but he made the most of his fortune. He flicked Harmison over point for four, cut him to the rope two balls later, and then deliberately flicked him over gully for another boundary. He then despatched a full Flintoff ball past mid-off, and carried on cutting and flicking the bowlers over point till his half-century. And he wasn't finished there. He clipped Giles over midwicket, and finished with 12 boundaries in an unbeaten stand of 127 with Richardson.
Richardson again dropped anchor at the other end. His first four, a cut off Harmison, flicked up off the boundary rope and ended up in a spectator's pint of beer, and his third, a rasping cover-drive off Jones, gave New Zealand back the lead. He even danced down the track to smear the forlorn Giles over his head for four as New Zealand ended another captivating day with the momentum.