LONDON: England great James Anderson marked his return to international cricket in dramatic style with two early wickets as New Zealand collapsed to 12 for four in just under an hour’s play on Thursday’s opening day of the first Test at Lord’s.
England’s first match since all-rounder Ben Stokes took over as Test captain and Brendon McCullum, the former New Zealand skipper, became their red-ball coach, could hardly have got off to a better start at the ‘Home of Cricket’.
Anderson and Stuart Broad, England’s two most successful Test bowlers of all time, with 1,177 wickets between them ahead of the first of a three-match against New Zealand, had both been controversially left out of the squad that suffered a series loss in the Caribbean earlier this year.
But after New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss and batted, the 39-year-old Anderson was soon back in a familiar groove as he struck twice to leave the reigning World Test champions two for two with the help of third slip Jonny Bairstow.
Will Young lasted just two balls as he edged the 39-year-old Anderson, with Bairstow – who has spent much of his England career as a wicketkeeper – taking a brilliant one-handed catch low to his left as he dived in front of second slip.
Tom Latham also fell for one to the same duo, with Bairstow holding on at the second attempt.
Stokes, renowned as an aggressive all-rounder, stayed true to his attacking instincts by deploying five slips and a gully early on after losing the toss.
New Zealand’s Devon Conway had made a double century at Lord’s in his Test debut last year.
But he was powerless to stop the slide on Thursday as he too was caught by Bairstow, off Broad this time, for three.
Jack Leach had to leave the field after some 30 minutes play after landing on his head and neck when preventing a boundary.
The left-arm spinner was replaced by Harry Brook.
But that was the one setback England suffered in the first hour’s play as debutant Matthew Potts took his first wicket with only his fifth ball in Test cricket.
The Durham quick claimed the prize scalp of star batsman Williamson for just two, with wicketkeeper Ben Foakes holding a good low catch off the edge.
England, with just one win in their last 17 Tests, had now reduced New Zealand to a scarcely credible 12 for four.