England’s first order is in tatters as New Zealand take over at Headingley


England lost six wickets from their opening 12 overs in the crease as their promise to continue providing entertaining cricket came at a cost on day two at Headingley.

After working hard to fire New Zealand for 329 in the third LV= Insurance Test, with Daryl Mitchell marking his third century in the series, the hosts saw their first order delivered as the tourists produced an outstanding display of seam and swing bowling.

A counterattack from Jonny Bairstow (33rd) saw England take tea 91 for six, but the manner of their high-profile capitulation caused concern.

While it’s tempting to attribute the dramatic collapse, first at 21-for-four and then 55-for-six, to the same ultra-aggressive approach that brought a resounding victory at Trent Bridge last week, that wouldn’t be not quite correct.

Captain Ben Stokes was certainly guilty of hubris, reacting to a perilous position trying unsuccessfully to get out of trouble, but most of his teammates simply couldn’t afford the crease.

Left arm Trent Boult put the train to flight on an immaculate new-ball spell that saw him clear the bowl of Alex Lees, Ollie Pope and Zak Crawley in quick succession.

Swinging the ball at good speed and with unerring precision around the stump, he only needed five balls to open his account. Lees didn’t have the defense to keep Boult out, backing up whoever was holding his line midway and throwing a bail as he passed.

Trent Boult was in superb form for New Zealand (PA Wire/PA Images/PA)

There was nothing so subtle about Pope’s departure, with Boult ripping the stump off the Surrey man on his next visit. It was a knockout blow, landed flush with a player rising high after a fine century at Nottingham last week.

Boult’s masterclass continued as he took to the skies and brought back his next victim, the out-of-form Crawley ruthlessly separated for six years. It was another great delivery, bent over attacking length, but allowing the ball to snake between bat and pad and hit the center stump, Crawley’s technique let him down.

England badly needed Joe Root to exercise his procedural class, but his stay was brief and unhappy. He could have been exhausted on nothing and cut on slips on one before Tim Southee tightened his line and Root was caught in defense.

This brought together match winners Trent Bridge in England, Bairstow and Stokes facing a huge rebuild. They picked up precisely where they left off last time, dotting the boundary ropes with a frenzy worth 34 in 19 balls.

This included a series of driven fours and a thick edge, from Bairstow, as well as Stokes’ 100th six in Test cricket – Southee crashed out on the drive.

Stokes was too frantic, however, and it was no surprise to see him punch Neil Wagner’s second ball of the game and series halfway through.

Stokes lived by the sword and died by it, where a few more nuances might have been needed. Wagner made short work of Ben Foakes, lbw for a three-ball duck, before Bairstow and Jamie Overton took their chance to stem the bleeding.

England had previously taken New Zealand’s last five wickets for 129 runs – a seemingly solid effort without the fireworks to come.

Jack Leaching

Jack Leach (centre) claimed five wickets for England (Mike Egerton/PA)

Mitchell converted his day one score of 78 to 109, surpassing Martin Donnelly’s 73-year-old Kiwi record of 492 runs in a series on these coasts.

He had some fortune, given up as Foakes dipped past Root at 80, but hit triple figures with a sloping six from Jack Leach.

Leach regained the upper hand with the last ball before lunch, Stokes holding a whirling catch, before two more catches from deep gave the figures five for 100 – his third five for England.