Rory Burns struck a battling third Test hundred to dent New Zealand’s push for victory over England in the first Test after Tim Southee’s swing-bowling masterclass had put the Black Caps well on top at Lord’s.
Burns (132 from 297 balls) was twice hit on the head, survived a missed stumping by BJ Watling on 77 and was dropped at slip by Southee on 88 but dug in to reach three figures from 267 deliveries before he was last man out, to Southee (6-43), in England’s total of 275 on day four.
The opener, who resumed on Saturday morning unbeaten on 59 following Friday’s washout, helped his side rally from 140-6, avoid the follow-on and trail by only 103 on first innings after they had seemed set for a far larger deficit following Southee’s three wickets for no runs in nine balls.
England slumped from 140-3 when Southee dismissed Ollie Pope for 22 and inflicted ducks on Dan Lawrence and debutant James Bracey, leaving the hosts 238 runs behind with only four wickets left.
Burns and England’s other debutant, Ollie Robinson (41), stopped the rot with a seventh-wicket stand of 63, while Burns then bossed a final-wicket partnership of 52 with James Anderson (8), during which time he reached his century with a scampered two and struck his first Test six.
Anderson and Stuart Broad were then excellent with the new ball for no reward, but the impressive Robinson struck twice before stumps as first-innings double centurion Devon Conway (23) dragged onto his stumps and Kiwi captain Kane Williamson (1) fell lbw on review, one ball after successfully overturning a similar dismissal against the same bowler.
New Zealand closed on 62-2 with a lead of 165 – Tom Latham (30no off 73 balls) and nightwatchman Wagner (2no off 24) at the crease – and a draw now looks the most likely outcome, though there could still be a gripping finish if the Black Caps declare and insert England.
Burns returns to form after tough winter
Burns had been dropped for the final two Tests in India after averaging just 9.75 across his previous five matches but strong early-season form for Surrey – six fifties and one century in 10 innings at an average close to 62 – saw him earn a recall and he scored almost half of England’s runs at Lord’s.
The 30-year-old’s knock was more nuggety than fluent but he still managed 16 fours as well a superb slog-swept six off Neil Wagner as he followed centuries against Australia at Edgbaston in August 2019 and then against New Zealand in Hamilton later that same year.
Burns was finally dismissed by standout bowler Southee, who completed his second six-wicket haul at Lord’s, having taken 6-50 in 2013.
Southee earlier shredded England’s middle order once Kyle Jamieson (3-85) had opened up an end by having Joe Root (42) caught low at slip by Ross Taylor from the opening delivery of the morning, ending the captain’s 93-run stand with Burns for the third wicket.
Southee serves up swing-bowling masterclass
Pope struck five boundaries – some streaky, some classy – in a stand of 29 with Surrey team-mate Burns but was then out lbw on the drive as Southee pinned him on the pad with a nip-backer, having previously dragged the batsman over to off stump.
On-field umpire Michael Gough did not give Pope out, perhaps feeling the England batsman had inside-edged the delivery, but Williamson’s review came up trumps, with the ball shown to have missed the bat and set to go on and clatter middle stump.
Southee was celebrating in each of his next two overs as well, with Lawrence slashing the second ball he faced to Colin de Grandhomme at slip and Bracey castled six balls into his maiden Test innings as Southee curled a delivery between bat and pad from around the wicket.
Bracey’s dismissal made it three wickets in 21 balls but New Zealand had to wait 28 overs for their next breakthrough – although it would not have been that long had wicketkeeper Watling been able to gather cleanly and complete a stumping when Burns drifted out of his crease while facing Mitchell Santner.
England battle back at Lord’s
Robinson – who overturned a bat-pad decision off Santner on 16 – was eventually bounced out as Southee sealed a 12th Test five-wicket haul but Southee’s fielding then let him down as he shelled a regulation catch at slip with Burns 12 runs shy of a ton.
Burns looked in danger of running out of partners as Jamieson had Mark Wood (0) caught behind – Wood the fourth England batsman to bag a duck – and Wagner cleaned up Broad one ball after the England tailender had pumped him over midwicket for a maximum.
But Anderson shepherded the left-hander through to his century and Burns became more attacking thereafter, with three boundaries in one Jamieson over and that glorious six off Wagner in another before he snicked Southee behind on the cut.
Then it was over to England’s bowlers – Anderson (0-22 from 11 overs) and Broad (0-9 from 6) gave Conway and Latham a stiff examination before Robinson (2-8 off 9) followed his first-innings four-wicket haul and cameo with the bat by removing Conway and Williamson.
Williamson avoided one lbw dismissal with his review showing an inside edge but one delivery later he was back in the shed, with a ball that at first look appeared to be heading over the top shown to hitting leg stump.
Watch day five of the first Test between England and New Zealand, at Lord’s, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.15am on Sunday.