Rory Burns took immense satisfaction from crowning his England recall with a battling century in front of his wife and baby daughter on the penultimate day of the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s.
Burns, who was dropped midway through the India tour last winter after a run of low scores, showed admirable resolve after Tim Southee’s three-wicket burst swung the momentum in the tourists’ favour on the fourth morning.
England’s overnight position of 111-2 became 140-6 and while Burns batted at a glacial pace for much of the day, he anchored the innings impressively with 132 in England’s 275 all out in response to New Zealand’s 378.
Burns was last man out after nicking off to Southee, who finished with six for 43 in 25.1 exemplary overs, before the Black Caps swelled their advantage to 165 after closing on 62-2 in their second dig.
Burns has endured an up-and-down winter – while he celebrated the birth of his first child in January, he lost his place in the England side and had an unseemly Twitter spat with 2017 Women’s World Cup winner Alex Hartley – but he was delighted to start his summer off with a third Test ton in front of his young family.
“My wife and Cora were here, so it was pretty special to get a hundred in front of them – not that she’ll remember it, mind, but I will, so that’s a nice thing,” said Burns.
“Getting dropped is not a nice thing and then being able to take the next opportunity that you get given is. It’s always nice to contribute.
“To contribute, from a personal standpoint, to the team is ideally what you want to do. We needed those runs so it was nice to do it.”
Burns, who has averaged 61.55 in this season’s LV= Insurance County Championship, was given a major let-off on 77 when BJ Watling missed a simple stumping chance after the batsman had advanced down the track to Mitchell Santner.
He had another reprieve on 88 when Southee spilled a routine catch at slip after Wagner had found a bit of extra bounce to surprise Burns, who revealed at the close of play he rarely felt comfortable at the crease.
“It was just a rhythm thing, I found it quite difficult to get into a rhythm and that’s probably from the way they bowled – they tried to dry me up quite a lot and bowl at other guys in the order,” said Burns.
“I try to stay pretty consistent as an individual. I got back to Surrey and worked hard. It was good to get some scores and some form there. It’s basically just trying to stay consistent and do my thing.”
A washout on day three seemed to hinder both sides’ chances of winning the first Test of this two-match series but England face the probability of having to bat for a draw on Sunday.
“I think New Zealand are probably slightly ahead in the game,” added Burns. “The third innings is always a tricky one for them to try to pace, to try to push a positive result, obviously running out a little bit of time.
“But having said that they’re just edging it at the minute.”
While Southee believes New Zealand would have relished being the position they are in at the start of day four, he acknowledged England’s fightback, led by Burns, has made the Kiwis’ push for victory a bit harder.
“If we’d have turned up at the start of the day and told we were going to walk off with the position we’re in now we’d have been pretty happy,” said Southee. “But the England side don’t just roll over.
“It’s always great to turn up on day five of a Test match with all three results still possible. Who knows what may happen but it’s great to be in a position where we can push on with all three results still possible.”
Watch day five of the first Test between England and New Zealand live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.15am on Sunday.