England 354 for 7 (Moeen 49*) v New Zealand
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
After little more than the first hour of the opening day at Lord's, the new hierarchy of English cricket will have been shuffling a little uncomfortably in their seats. At 30 for 4 a horrendous day for the home side, to follow the acrimony of the last couple of weeks, could have unfolded as New Zealand surged out of the blocks but instead England's middle order fought back in entertaining style.
The recovery was fashioned by Joe Root, continuing the form that had him named England's player of the year three days ago and, arguably more significantly, Ben Stokes as the pair added 161 in 32 overs for the fifth wicket. Both fell short of hundreds - for Stokes it would have been his first in England and for Root his fifth since May last year - but their efforts were backed up by Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali as they added 103 for the seventh wicket.
The action continued to the last moment, though, with Buttler lbw to the final ball of the day, playing a horrid shot across the line at Trent Boult. Still, Nos 5 to 8 had provided 306 runs to haul their team out of a position that would only have only fuelled recent fires. The flames are still far from dying out, but a temporary barrier has been formed.
Despite the late pick-me-up wicket, New Zealand will know the day slipped away from them. They have said a disjointed preparation - with four senior players arriving two days before the Test from the IPL - will not be used as an excuse (it is the position they have accepted for themselves out of necessity) but Tim Southee, especially, looked a little short of a gallop.
Matt Henry, making his debut in support of the main two, began with two wickets in his first spell and later found Root's edge on 98 - taken by stand-in keeper Tom Latham after BJ Watling suffered a knee injury in the morning session - but he also leaked nearly four an over as the game escaped from New Zealand after lunch. Neither did Mark Craig, who does not mind buying his wickets, offer a defensive option - not that defence generally enters Brendon McCullum's mind - although much credit in the shift of momentum should go to the way Root and Stokes batted. The reward for a positive mindset.
The day before this Test, Stokes' father, Gerard, spoke to Fairfax in New Zealand about the dilemma he would face watching his son against the country of his birth. He may have gone through emotional turmoil as the day unfolded with his boy rattling along at close to a run-a-ball only to fall with a hundred in his grasp. For Stokes jnr, promoted back to No. 6 where he scored his maiden Test century in Perth and 79 in Antigua, just getting off the mark was a notable moment after three previous Test innings in England had been ducks.
Root, in a lively manner that is becoming common place, went to fifty shortly after lunch from 53 balls and Stokes skipped to his off 55 as he firstly caught up with his partner then accelerated past him as he took 25 off two overs from Henry and Boult. The on side dominated Stokes' innings and he was especially productive with a powerful whip through midwicket, his timing and placement superb except for a couple of top-edged pulls which landed in space, before an innings of attack ended with him playing no stroke to a Craig delivery that came down the slope, leaving him watching in horror as it clipped the off stump, having struck 15 fours and a pulled six in his 94-ball stay.
It was a day when a rejigged England middle order came together as Buttler, back at No. 7 with Moeen pushed down to No. 8, earned himself a 95-ball fifty - restrained by the standards Buttler is capable off, but highly mature given that there remained work to do when Stokes and Root could not kick on beyond three figures. Moeen began uncertainly, squirting a first-ball yorker off the back of the bat to third man, but grew in confidence as he slog-swept Craig before the second new-ball. When he had 32 he bunted a firm chance back to Southee who barely had time to react and finished unbeaten on 49 with the tail to come in the morning.
The spectators who filled out Lord's on a very encouraging first-day crowd for a May Test - testimony to the draw the visiting team offered - certainly had their monies worth from start to finish. McCullum hinted that he would favour bowling, but it will not have been a straightforward decision with the overhead conditions, which usually play a key role here, suggesting it was a bat-first occasion, while the pitch was said to be quite dry underneath the matting of grass. As the sun did its work during the afternoon, the green hue diminishing, it looked a beauty to bat on.
For seven overs there was steady reconnaissance as Alastair Cook, and his new opening partner, Adam Lyth on debut, played watchfully against the early movement. But in Southee's fourth over he slid one across the left hander which grazed the outside edge: the batsman wasn't sure if he had nicked it and, after some deliberation, decided against a review. A change of ends for Boult then provided an immediate reward when Gary Ballance, perhaps caught deep in his crease as is his preference, edged a drive to third slip.
Henry did not have to wait long for his first Test bowl, brought on in the seventh over, and in his third opened his Test account with a short ball which was heading leg side but caught Cook by surprise for pace as he went for the pull and gloved behind.
Henry's pace played a part in Ian Bell's dismissal, too, and it was a delivery that would have removed many a batsman as it held its line off the seam. But with the current mood within the English game, that will not prevent hysteria although it is fact to point out that Bell's last four innings have been 1, 0, 0 and 1. Somewhere, perhaps on a golf course, England's position was unlikely to have passed Kevin Pietersen by. But Pietersen, barring a remarkable turn of events, is the past. What followed was the present and future for England.