By Ed Osmond
Ben Stokes provided the gloss and Joe Root the glue as England recovered from a terrible start to reach 354 for seven at the close on the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s on Thursday.
England collapsed to 30 for four in the morning after being sent into bat but Stokes and Root shared a fluent fifth-wicket partnership of 161 to lift the gloom at a sun-kissed home of cricket.
Stokes was out for a sparkling 92, including a six and 15 fours, and Root fell for 98 in the final session after another innings of great maturity and class.
Jos Buttler (67) was out lbw from the final ball of the day but Moeen Ali remained unbeaten on 49.
The first hour had belonged to New Zealand as England, reeling from weeks of controversy off the pitch, failed to cope with a rampant Kiwi pace attack.
Adam Lyth, on his debut, nicked Tim Southee to wicketkeeper BJ Watling for seven, Gary Ballance (1) edged Trent Boult to third slip, captain Alastair Cook was caught by Watling, hooking at Matt Henry, for 16 and Ian Bell (1) was bowled by debutant Henry.
Thoughts around the ground may have turned to discarded batsman Kevin Pietersen, who was told last week he would not be selected by England this summer despite scoring a career-best 355 not out for Surrey.
The mercurial right-hander was attending golf’s PGA Championship at Wentworth as the top order melted away but the efforts of Stokes and Root at least provided breathing space for beleaguered new England cricket director Andrew Strauss.
Stokes, promoted up the order after Moeen was unable to get ready in time following a net session, and Root continued the momentum in the afternoon with a purposeful stand studded with crisp boundaries.
Root reached his fifty off 53 balls and Stokes got to his half century off 55 before cutting loose launching Henry over square leg for six but, closing in on his second Test century, opted to leave a ball from off-spinner Mark Craig and was bowled.
Root, 24, looked odds-on to complete his seventh Test century but tickled a wide ball from Henry through to stand-in keeper Tom Latham.
After Buttler reached another fluent 50 Southee dropped a difficult chance from Moeen as a tired New Zealand toiled in the face of England’s attacking batting.
With the final ball of the day, however, Boult rapped Buttler on the pads to erase some of the gloss from England’s recovery.