LONDON: England captain Joe Root defended his side’s approach by saying the “series is very much alive” after they laboured to a draw in the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s on Sunday.
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson’s enterprising declaration at 169-6 during lunch on the last day left England with a target of 273 in 75 overs.
But England, in the face of some disciplined bowling and with an inexperienced middle-order, made a cautious start to their chase on a tricky pitch in a match where the whole of Friday’s third day was washed out.
England, who have not lost a home red-ball series since 2014, were 170-3 in 70 overs when a draw was agreed to leave this two-match contest all square ahead of next week’s second Test at Edgbaston.
It also meant England ended a run of three straight defeats following a 3-1 series loss in India this year.
“We didn’t attempt to win it towards the back end of it,” Root told the BBC.
“We felt that, in the grand scheme of things, winning the series was (more important than) potentially giving them a 1-0 lead going into the second Test. The series is very much alive.”
– ‘Incredible Conway’ –
New Zealand opener Devon Conway was named man-of-the-match after marking his Test debut with a remarkable 200 in the tourists’ first-innings 378.
“He has come into the side and shown his class — a debut Test at ‘the home of cricket’ and he just looked so comfortable,” said Williamson of Conway.
“To score a double century is an incredible feat.”
Williamson also praised Tim Southee for the veteran seamer’s 6-43 in England’s modest first-innings 275.
“Tim led the attack beautifully and the other guys complemented him,” he said.
Root, in at 56-2 on Sunday, tried to up the tempo in a match that marked the return of spectators to international cricket in England following last year’s Covid-19 restrictions.
But the star batsman was lbw for 40 to left-arm paceman Neil Wagner (2-27).
Earlier, opener Rory Burns, who made 132 in England’s first innings, fell for 25 when he edged Wagner low to second slip.
And 49-1 soon became 56-2 when Southee had Zak Crawley out for his second two of the match via a sliced drive to gully.
New Zealand, in their first match at Lord’s since an agonising Super Over defeat by England in the 2019 World Cup final, were missing left-arm quick Trent Boult, who only arrived in the UK on Friday after a period of family leave.
England, however, were without four batsmen well-suited to a run chase in injured all-rounder Ben Stokes, with Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes all rested following quarantine after their stints in the Indian Premier League.
New Zealand, who face India in the inaugural World Test Championship final at Southampton later this month, resumed on Sunday on 62-2 before Ross Taylor made a brisk 33 featuring two sixes.
England debutant paceman Ollie Robinson took 3-26.
That followed his 4-75 in the first innings and the 42 he made with the bat first time around.
But an impressive on-field display was overshadowed by the republication of racist tweets he posted as a teenager, with the Sussex quick set to face disciplinary action.
“Ollie has made a huge mistake,” said Root.
“He’s very remorseful. He’s fronted up to the dressing room and the rest of the world.
“We want to make the game as diverse and inclusive as we possibly can and we’ll keep looking at ways to make that possible.”