James Vince and Mark Stoneman’s half-centuries were individually and collectively valuable as England moved into a position of strength against New Zealand on day three of the second Test.
England’s second-wicket pair, both in need of significant contributions after uncertain starts to their Test careers, joined forces after another failure from Alastair Cook in a stand of 123, which helped the tourists to 202 for three and a lead of 231.
They were consolidating back-to-form Stuart Broad’s six for 54 as New Zealand were bowled out for 278 at Hagley Park to give England sound prospects of a series-squaring first Test win of their otherwise unsuccessful winter.
Cook’s lean run is cause for alarm
England’s all-time record Test runscorer has mustered just 23 in his four innings in this series – a personal low. He has two double-centuries in the past eight months, but precious little else – 216 runs in 16 attempts, in fact. Trent Boult has ruthlessly exposed Cook’s current frailties, and the former captain will have to dig deep to regain viable form in time for the Test summer ahead.
Tweet of the day
From the Gabba to Hagley
Vince and Stoneman have done enough, whatever the eventual outcome here, to start the Test summer. They began England’s winter with Ashes half-centuries in Brisbane, and have ended it with two more much-needed contributions. What came in between was often unconvincing, though, and the jury was out on their continued inclusion until the grand finish.
Stat of the day
1912 – The last time the two opening bowlers on each side shared all 10 wickets in the first innings of a Test match was between England and South Africa 106 years ago. It has happened on just one other occasion, in the 1902 Ashes Test at Melbourne.
England supporters can begin to sense a long overdue first win of this miserable Test winter – but there is plenty more work to do yet in a tight contest against talented opponents.