Dom Sibley was out for 22 on his Test debut but he and Rory Burns helped see off the new ball on the opening morning of England’s series against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui.
England captain Joe Root has urged patience from his top order in this two-Test series, and Burns and Sibley carried out his instruction almost to the letter – albeit on a Bay Oval pitch offering little assistance to the Black Caps bowlers.
Burns (35no) was perhaps fortunate to survive a caught behind appeal on 10 before a 52-run stand was ended when Sibley nicked Colin De Grandhomme to Ross Taylor at first slip as England went to lunch on 61 for one.
☀️ What a spot! And a solid first hour from our openers.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 20, 2019
Sibley is renowned for his reputation as a blocker but, after Root won the toss and elected to bat first under sunny skies on a green-tinged pitch, the Warwickshire opener clipped his first Test delivery to the midwicket boundary after Trent Boult had over-pitched.
He scrambled to make his ground after being called through for a quick single by Burns but otherwise the two former Surrey team-mates made a serene start, with movement in the air or off the pitch minimal for Boult and Tim Southee.
Burns was spared when New Zealand neglected to review an appeal for caught behind off Boult as Hot Spot showed a faint edge.
The England openers were taking precious few risks, with Sibley showing good judgement outside his off-stump – indeed all of his runs came through the leg-side, perhaps not a total surprise given his front-on stance.
He was the junior partner as England reached their 50 in the 19th over but departed shortly after, attempting to drive a ball that nipped away from him and nicking medium-fast bowler De Grandhomme to Ross Taylor at first slip.
THAT'S LUNCH! A classic morning of Test grind for the bowlers with one wicket as their reward 🏏 @englandcricket haven't got away though and head to lunch 61/1 with Burns (35*) & Denly (4*) to resume after the break 🙌🏽
— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) November 21, 2019
Up until then, New Zealand’s decision to omit Lockie Ferguson seemed questionable.
But they tightened up when Joe Denly arrived at the crease, England’s new number three getting off the mark from his 21st delivery by cover-driving De Grandhomme for four.