Hello everyone and welcome to day two of the Stokes-McCullum era. Test cricket, the only form of play these two are responsible for, is pretty much the slowest thing in all of sport. Each game lasts five days and each day corresponds to three films. For the hardcore fan, it’s like attending Get Back by the Beatles 25 to 30 times a summer. Going to the game is a chance to disconnect, to disconnect, to time travel. But not yesterday, when it all went out the window.
From start to finish, it was solid gold tough action. There were only 76 overs on the day, but 17 wickets fell. New Zealand beat exactly 40 of those overs, like someone told them it was a John Player League historical re-enactment. England started dreamily with the ball, quite vigorously with the bat, then returned to their default position: the sudden and inexplicable collapse. Buckle up and enjoy the ride? Even before they got past their first day, Stokes’ new band was deep into the difficult second album.
Today the weather is warm and the crowds have a second consecutive holiday to bask in. If you watch on TV, be prepared for an alarming number of close-ups of champagne bottles. What will happen in cricket, only God knows.
New Zealand have the initiative, but England could sneak up on the lead. They’ve got Ben Foakes still there after a stint as a boy on the burning bridge, and new-looking Stuart Broad, so relaxed he doesn’t care about the maidens’ column, can hit a few fours. Matt Parkinson will make his Test debut, in surreal circumstances, and Jimmy Anderson will stand out for the kind of special acclaim Britain bestows on its former trainees, whether they’re a veteran swing bowler or the Queen of ‘England.
The game starts at 11 a.m. BST, and if day two feels like day one, there may never be a day three.