Morning everyone and welcome to the second day of the Stokes-McCullum era. Test cricket, the only form of the game for which these two are in charge, is just about the slowest thing in all of sport. Each match takes five days, and every day is the length of three movies. For the hardcore fan, it’s like sitting through The Beatles’ Get Back 25 to 30 times a summer. Going to the game is a chance to tune out, switch off, travel back in time. But not yesterday, when all that went out of the window.
From start to finish, it was solid gold uneasy action. There were only 76 overs in the day, yet somehow 17 wickets fell. New Zealand batted for exactly 40 of those overs, as if someone had told them that this was a historical re-enactment of the John Player League. England started dreamily with the ball, sturdily enough with the bat, then went back to their default position: the sudden inexplicable collapse. Buckle up and enjoy the ride? Before they’d even got through their first day, Stokes’s new band were deep into the difficult second album.
Today the weather is warm and the crowd have a second successive bank holiday to bask in. If you’re watching on telly, brace yourself for an alarming number of close-ups of bottles of champagne. What will happen in the cricket, God only knows.
New Zealand have the initiative, but England could sneak into a lead. They have Ben Foakes still there after a stint as the boy on the burning deck, and the new-look Stuart Broad, so relaxed that he doesn’t care about the maidens column, may whack a few fours. Matt Parkinson will be making his Test debut, in surreal circumstances, and Jimmy Anderson will potter out to the sort of special cheer that Britain bestows on its old stagers, whether they’re a veteran swing bowler or the Queen of England.
Play starts at 11am BST, and if day two is anything like day one, there may never be a day three.