|New Zealand 378 (Conway 200, Robinson 4-75) & 62-2 (Robinson 2-8)|
|England 275 (Burns 132, Southee 6-43)|
|New Zealand lead by 165 runs|
England face the prospect of batting to save the first Test against New Zealand despite Rory Burns’ determined 132 on day four at Lord’s.
Burns dragged England to 275 after they found themselves 140-6 when three wickets fell for no runs.
The left-hander should have been stumped on 77 and was dropped on 88, but kept England afloat by adding 63 with debutant Ollie Robinson, who made 42, and 52 with last man James Anderson.
New Zealand were still able to secure a first-innings advantage of 103, pace bowler Tim Southee superb in taking 6-43.
In the face of some threatening England bowling, the tourists reached 62-2 by the close – both wickets fell to Robinson – to extend their lead to 165.
With Friday lost to rain, a draw is the most likely result, but New Zealand could declare on Sunday and leave England about two sessions to survive on a pitch that is becoming increasingly uneven.
Miserable morning leaves England behind
Although Burns’ effort was admirable and England’s pace bowlers were impressive in a hot evening session, the hosts are behind in this game because of an awful batting showing in the first hour of the day.
Resuming on 111-2 with the game delicately poised, England’s loss of captain Joe Root to the very first ball of the morning seemed like a huge blow, a suspicion confirmed when Southee got to work on the middle order.
Without Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, England’s batting is inexperienced, but that is hardly an excuse for the loose shots and flimsy defence that brought about the downfalls of Ollie Pope, Dan Lawrence and James Bracey.
Amid the carnage, Burns was almost at a standstill, only opening his shoulders when joined by Anderson to first reach his century, then chip away at New Zealand’s lead.
Still, even with the entertainment of the 10th-wicket partnership, England were left with a sizable deficit, upon which New Zealand slowly built.
England are not completely out of this Test, but it would take something remarkable for them to win it.
Defeat will only come via a collapse on the final day, although recent history tells us that is far from impossible.
Burns battles to make his point
Burns endured a difficult tour of India early this year. Not only was he dropped after two Tests, but was also “reminded of his responsibilities” after a Twitter exchange with England women’s spinner Alex Hartley.
The opener had made only 78 runs in his previous five matches, but has been in fine form for Surrey this season and extended that to make his third Test century, and first since November 2019.
Resuming on 59, he was required to show guts, patience and bravery. Wickets fell around him, he was twice hit on the helmet and runs were scarce – he scored only 13 in the morning session.
When he was joined by Anderson, Burns was on 91, having scored 32 runs from 128 balls faced on Saturday. Immediately finding a sense of urgency, he took nine from the next five and celebrated in the direction of his wife Victoria and daughter Cora, who was born in January.
Emboldened, Burns unfurled some glorious strokes the off side and even got down on one knee to sweep pace bowler Neil Wagner for six over mid-wicket.
Like fellow opener Devon Conway, who made 200 in New Zealand’s first innings, Burns was last man out, edging behind to give Southee his sixth wicket.
Superb Southee leads New Zealand
Leading the New Zealand attack in the absence of the rested Trent Boult, Southee was magnificent, swinging the ball away from the right-handers and occasionally nipping it back up the slope.
After Kyle Jamieson had Root taken at first slip, Pope played some breezy shots, only to fall leg before to one that jagged in.
Lawrence played an awful drive at his second ball to be caught at third slip, while debutant Bracey was bowled between bat and pad.
Southee, however, was culpable in dropping Burns at second slip off Wagner. By that point, wicketkeeper BJ Watling has missed a straightforward stumping off Mitchell Santner.
Southee was recalled to break the partnerships between Burns and Robinson, then Burns and Anderson, after which New Zealand openers Conway and Tom Latham absorbed some fine England new-ball bowling.
Robinson’s Test debut will be remembered for the revelation of historical racist and sexist tweets, but his fine on-field performance continued when he bowled Conway and had captain Kane Williamson lbw on review.