Harry Brook and Joe Root put England back on track after early wickets
Zak Crawley endured another cheap dismissal before Harry Brook’s run-a-ball half-century put England back on track in the decisive second Test against New Zealand in Wellington.
Crawley’s run of poor scores continued after the tourists were sent in on a green pitch at Basin Reserve, dismissed by the returning Matt Henry for two as England were reduced to 21 for three.
Yorkshire duo Joe Root and Brook steadied the ship to reach 101 for three at lunch, with the latter hitting 10 fours on his way to a momentum-shifting 51 not out. Root played a steadier supporting knock and had 23no at the break.
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England captain Ben Stokes admitted his bowlers were “licking their lips” after seeing the grass covering at the ground and would not have been surprised when opposite number Tim Southee opted to bowl first at the toss.
That put Crawley straight back into the spotlight but he was unable to summon a convincing response to the questions marks that continue to follow him. Henry, back after the birth of his first child, had started well on his return to action and snared the right-hander’s edge as he got one to hold its line on a searching length. Crawley, whose Test average has now dipped below 28, lingered for a moment before being sent on his way by the umpire.
Henry doubled down on his strong start by picking up Ollie Pope with another fine delivery, attacking the off stump and taking a thick edge that flew to Michael Bracewell at third slip. It was a sharp chance, safely taken, but paled in comparison to his next attempt off Southee – throwing himself back and across to pluck the ball out of the air one-handed.
England were rocking now, but in Root and Brook they found a partnership to rebuild around. Brook played the role of aggressor, unloading three boundaries in a row off Southee as he shrugged off the scoreboard pressure, and showing off his powerful ball striking as he clobbered Daryl Mitchell and Neil Wagner back down the ground.
Root, batting a yard out of his crease to smother the moving ball, survived a DRS referral for lbw off his first delivery but settled well into a controlled knock.