The Lord's Test ebbed and flowed for four days before England pulled apart and claimed victory on the final day. It was a performance that nobody expected from England, at the same time, one that will give them plenty of confidence going into the Ashes. They would also be favourites at Headingley knowing they cannot lose the series, and that would only reduce the pressure on them. The victory has also temporarily taken away the distraction of the entire Kevin Pietersen saga. As for New Zealand, Lord's was a clear case of missed opportunities. They were dominant more than once during the Test, but failed to close out matters.
All-rounder Ben Stokes would definitely be the talk of the town among English fans as the Test circus heads to Headingley. Stokes went into the Test under immense pressure. It was known to all that the all-rounder hadn't scored a run during his last three visits to the crease in matches in England. However, the team management reposed faith in him, and Stokes delivered with a marvellous display at the mecca of cricket. His batting exploits were special, and the way he batted, he exuded confidence and aggression throughout. In both innings, he came in when the team needed runs from him, and did not disappoint.
The performance of Joe Root remained impressive. He has been the lynchpin of the batting for over a year and has held the innings together on numerous occasions. At Lord's he was again at his fluent best, and the only disappointing aspect was that he failed to get to three figures in spite of coming close in both the innings. Alastair Cook did not disappoint on that front. He led by example with the bat, and anchored the team in the second innings after they were in trouble at one point. Among the bowlers, Mark Wood made a highly impressive debut, and looks like a good back up to the formidable pair of James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
New Zealand would look back at the Test with mixed emotions. They knew it was a Test they were better placed to win. On the opening day, they had the hosts tottering at 30 for 4, but they allowed England to recover and post a competitive total. In their own first innings, they were dominantly placed at 403 for 3, but collapsed to end up on 523. It was still a decent lead, but their bowlers were taken aback by the Stokes sensation, and did not know how to respond. In the second innings with the bat then, they totally crumbled under pressure. Aggression has been central to their resurgence. But, the lack of patience hurt them at Lord's.
If New Zealand want to look at the positives from the first Test, it were definitely the efforts of Kane Williamson, who scored a wonderful hundred in the first innings, and Trent Boult, who bagged an impressive haul of nine wickets in the match. However, New Zealand need better support from the rest. Ross Taylor needs to get hundreds with the kind of experience he possesses. Tim Southee had an off-Test at Lord's. He must get back into shape as well. Injury woes continue to haunt the visitors. Corey Anderson's back remains a worry while BJ Watling couldn't keep wickets in both innings although he batted with spirit. Clearly, the World Cup finalists have a task on their hands.
--By A Cricket Analyst