‘It’s called Test for a reason’, stated the marketing campaign ahead of the England versus New Zealand series, and so it proved on day one at Trent Bridge.

Following an opening encounter at Lord’s in which wickets had tumbled with such regularity so as to, at times, generate the perception of ease, on this occasion England were made to toil for every breakthrough as the tourists closed on 318-4.

Don’t let the scorecard fool you, however, it was testing for the batsmen also – and for England’s slip catchers too.

Ben Stokes won the toss and elected to field before a sell-out Nottingham crowd. On a pitch offering a mere fleck of green, at a venue that has spawned sizable third and fourth innings runs more often than not this summer, a strong school of thought indicated that perhaps it was a good one to lose.

Nursing a new ball that ceased to swing, but buoyed by pace and carry so profound that we could almost have been playing at Perth, a wicket never appeared far from falling – and yet the run-rate rattled along above four – during an opening stand of 84 between Tom Latham (26) and Will Young (47).

The introduction of Stokes brought the breakthrough – Zak Crawley’s smart catch at slip signalling that it was time for Young to leave right now.

Not a single further run had been added when Latham pulled one to Matthew Potts at square-leg, handing James Anderson his 69th Test wicket at Trent Bridge – over a tenth of his overall tally.

But this is a New Zealand team made of stern and stubborn stuff, and a further stand of 77 had ensued by the time of the host nation’s second double strike – Henry Nicholls (30) and Devon Conway (46) nicking the swinging ball behind off Stokes and Anderson respectively.

You always look up rather than down at Trent Bridge, of course – and the cloud sadly didn’t stay for long, with Daryl Mitchell (81*) and Tom Blundell (67*) making hay while the sun shone in a resourceful yet positive undefeated partnership of 159.

One of Mitchell’s two sixes, a lofted straight drive off Jack Leach, represented a truly remarkable bout of beer-pong, landing inside the vessel being held by a patron in-front of the Pavilion. She took a blow to the hand, but wasn’t seriously hurt, and later posed for photographs with the replacement drinks, provided in-turn by the venue and the New Zealand team.

As England reflect upon a day of Trent Bridge tribulations, they will perhaps be ruing a trio of shelled catches in the slips, but can also take solace in the knowledge that big runs will be available to them too, should they emerge on the right side of the compelling contest between bat and ball that transpired on the game’s opening day.

As for the hometown hero, Stuart Broad’s figures of 18-4-74-0 don’t tell half the story.

His afternoon burst under cloudy-ish skies compelled the crowd and saw both batsmen groping and missing on repeat, before a barrage of evening short stuff saw him crash a searing bouncer into the helmet of Mitchell, who a ball earlier had seen a wildly top-edged hook travel for six.

And as one final effort with the new ball saw second and third slip leave it to one another as the ball dissected them at waste height, so came the realisation that the 35-year-old has bowled worse than this and got five-fers.

Penny for your thoughts this evening, Stuart. It’s called Test for a reason, after all.


England versus New Zealand at our historic home

From James Anderson ripping through Australia, to Joe Root and Jos Buttler tons, day four fireworks are frankly commonplace at our historic home.

Secure your seats for day four of England against world champions New Zealand here…