Richardson puts New Zealand on top
New Zealand opener Mark Richardson repulsed the England attack for more than six hours on Thursday to put his side in charge at 284/5 on the first day.
New Zealand opener Mark Richardson repulsed the England attack for more than six hours on Thursday to put his side in charge on the first day of the first Test at Lord's.
Playing rigidly within his limitations and relying primarily on pushes through the off-side to collect his runs, the compact left-hander contributed a painstaking 93 to his country's cause as the tourists finished the day on 284 for five.
Jacob Oram, playing his first Test against England, ensured New Zealand's supremacy with 10 cleanly struck boundaries in the final hour during an unbeaten 64 from 75 deliveries.
After playing provincial cricket as a left-arm bowler, Richardson transformed himself from a tailender to his present status as New Zealand's most reliable batsman. He averaged 46.32 in Tests before Thursday's innings and is the only Kiwi who has featured recently in the world's top 10-ranked batsmen.
Richardson survived a chance to Graham Thorpe at third slip after scoring 24 in the morning session and was put down by Ashley Giles in the gully diving to his left after tea when on 56. He was also hit a nasty blow in the ribs by Steve Harmison but allowed nothing to disturb his relentless concentration on the task in hand.
He put on 58 for the first wicket with his captain Stephen Fleming (34), opening for only the second time in 83 Tests, followed by a partnership of 103 with Nathan Astle (64).
Astle, scorer of the fastest double century in Test cricket, threatened to tear England's pace attack apart, striking 11 boundaries from only 77 deliveries before he fell caught behind off the persevering Andy Flintoff.
Two square drives off Matthew Hoggard hit with stunning power were the shots of the day and there was also a savage pulled four off Harmison, England's hero in this year's 3-0 series win in the Caribbean.
Astle's dismissal signalled a temporary turn in England's fortunes. Simon Jones, the pick of their attack in three spells of controlled hostility from the Pavilion End, followed up four balls later with the wicket of Scott Styris, also caught behind by Geraint Jones, who was dismissed for a duck in his first match against England.
Craig McMillan punched one boundary through extra-cover but managed only six from 52 deliveries before he was lbw to Hoggard, stabbing down too late on a straight delivery.
Oram, promoted in the order over wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum, scored his first runs against England with an involuntary edge through the slips but then began to look altogether more convincing as befits an impressive Test average of 42.50.
He found Ashley Giles's left-arm bowling particularly to his liking using his height to loft an off-drive to the boundary followed by a sweep for four in the same over. Oram followed with a brace of fours to long-on in the next over from the hapless Giles, who was reduced to shaking his head in frustration after conceding 32 runs from his five overs.
Oram brought up his fourth Test-half century with nine boundaries from only 54 deliveries, adding 106 for the fifth wicket with Richardson, before Harmison finally won an lbw decision against the Auckland opener when he was only seven runs short of his fourth Test hundred. He had hit 17 fours during an innings lasting 266 balls and a mammoth 378 minutes.
England: Marcus Trescothick (captain), Andrew Strauss, Mark Butcher, Nasser Hussain, Graham Thorpe, Andrew Flintoff, Geraint Jones, Ashley Giles, Simon Jones, Matthew Hoggard, Stephen Harmison.
New Zealand: Mark Richardson, Stephen Fleming (captain), Nathan Astle, Scott Styris, Craig McMillan, Brendon McCullum, Chris Cairns, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori, Daryl Tuffey, Chris Martin.