England v New Zealand: Four lessons as Stuart Broad inspires the hosts
England v New Zealand: Matt Cansick takes a look at the lessons learned from the hosts' first Test win at Lord's
Broad rescues England
A devastating spell of bowling from Stuart Broad tore through the New Zealand batting line-up on day four and snuffed out any hopes the tourists had of going 1-0 up in the two-Test series. Broad had looked wayward in the first innings as he struggled to find the right length with which to attack the Kiwi batsmen, but he emerged as England’s most potent threat at the start of the second innings. Ably supported by Jimmy Anderson, who took a back seat having led the attack on days two and three, Broad showed why he has been preferred to Steven Finn as an opening bowler. When Anderson and Broad are in this form, having Finn as a first change and the likes of Tim Bresnan, Chris Tremlett and Graham Onions waiting in the wings looks like an embarrassment of riches. What is certain is that most will be called upon at some point during a punishing Ashes schedule which dominates the next nine months.
Batting line-up not set in stone
Nick Compton looked to have cemented his place at the top of the order with back-to-back hundreds on the recent tour of New Zealand but two failures in this Test – including a rash shot in the first innings – have raised doubts over whether he is the man to partner Alastair Cook in the forthcoming Ashes series. As Kevin Pietersen continues his rehabilitation, it will also be a concern that Jonny Bairstow is yet to take advantage of the opportunities he has been given, although we have seen glimpses of his ability such as his 95 against South Africa last year. Joe Root, who has been in sparkling form since the start of the county season, provided what was undoubtedly the highlight of England’s batting with scores of 40 and 71. He has taken to Test cricket like a duck to water, but England will not want to put too much pressure on him yet and he should be kept down the order. His partnership with Jonathan Trott in the second innings was crucial in the context of a low-scoring match; doing the same in an Ashes Test normally represents a far greater challenge, but the maturity he has shown in his career to date bodes well for the future.
New Zealand have raw materials
A 170-run margin of defeat inside four days does not reflect well on New Zealand, but in reality this was a gripping and close-fought Test match that only became one sided once Broad hit his stride during the visitors’ run chase. In the first innings, it was Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson who bettered anything their English counterparts could muster, but the second innings collapse showed that there is still a lot of work to be done if a group of talented players is going to produce results. In the reverse series earlier this year, New Zealand were unable to force victory having on more than one occasion put themselves in a strong position. In both instances, in Dunedin and Auckland respectively, it was their bowlers who were unable to take the wickets required. This time it was the batsmen who failed to deliver, but captain Brendon McCullum and the coaching staff should not lose sight of the fact that several times in this match, their team fought back and ensured that they had a chance, albeit a wasted one, to win the Test.
Second Test important for hosts
Only one Test remains in this painfully short series (if it can even be called that), and as a result England will be looking to put in a far more consistent performance at Headingley. For the players involved in the Champions Trophy, the opportunities to impress in four and five-day cricket before the Ashes squad is announced will be few and far between, and the batsmen in particular will need to make each innings count in the second Test. For the bowlers, their most pressing concern will be avoiding injury. Finn will be keen to pick up a few wickets and cement his place in a three man pace attack, while Graeme Swann only bowled eight overs in the match. This may prove to be a blessing in disguise, as he has only just returned from elbow surgery. Along with Anderson and Broad they are likely to form the bowling attack for the first Test against Australia, one piece of the jigsaw that seems to be falling nicely into place.