NEW captain, new coach. But the same old England.
The same basic flaws, the same fragility, the same inability to withstand even the first hint of pressure.
And while Ben Stokes and England strolled the field after the pre-game chat, the all-too-familiar collapse with the bat brought a silence to replace the excited chatter at Lord’s.
A day that had started so well for Stokes and Brendon McCullum ended in a spineless hour to rebalance the First Test.
Even Skipper Stokes, who had set the tone from the start as Joe Root’s post-captain era life began, couldn’t avoid being part of the procession back to the pavilion.
But until that wavering and abrupt change of direction, Stokes’ new order had at least signaled a new approach to ending the recent atrophy.
From Toss, who went by the name Graham Thorpes and cap number 564 in homage to the ailing former England middle-order batsman, to his extra cover instead of his usual position in the cordon, Stokes was at the center of affairs.
The Durham ace was in the bowlers’ ears between the balls, making plans and reacting quickly.
Of course, it helped that old guard in the form of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad and new debutant Matt Potts bowled with a precision, pace and threat that New Zealand found horribly lacking for 132 before the tea.
Stokes, who began his time at the helm alongside McCullum, was responsible for the mindset, attitude and controlled aggression.
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It meant he could share the excitement of being first on the scene to celebrate as Potts’ dream debut was rolled out.
While Root emerged as a subdued, weather-beaten figure in the Caribbean, questioning himself and allowing the first two Tests to progress too slowly, Stokes put his attacking philosophy into action.
As wickets fell, England announced six slips, indicating Stokes’ determination to seize the initiative.
Nor was there any panic when Tim Southee and Colin de Grandhomme attempted a counterattack after lunch.
Stokes’ calm reaction helped before taking the final wicket himself within 10 balls to replace spam victim Potts.
But losing six wickets for 25 in just nine overs, just like the Kiwis were there to be demoralized, was further evidence of a deeper malaise than just England’s state of mind.
McCullum and Stokes can change mindsets, but cricket still requires technique and tenacity.
This takes months, not days. And suggests that a lot more changes might be needed to get there.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5478639/ben-stokes-england-new-zealand-lords/ New captain, new manager but old England like Ben Stokes’ side collapse with racquet after bowling New Zealand at Lord’s