England build their lead in the first Test against New Zealand despite Blundell century

It was somehow apt Jimmy Anderson was wearing his trademark frown rather than one of the smiles England have brought to Test cricket just as he equalled a special milestone.

This was the day Anderson and Stuart Broad reached one of the biggest landmarks in even their illustrious careers when they drew level with Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne on 1,001 Test wickets as a partnership since they first played together 15 years ago.

But when the big moment came England were rattled after being given a taste of their own ‘Bazball’ medicine and were battling to retain control of this first day-night Test.

Tom Blundell was a constant thorn in England’s side throughout the series that launched England’s transformation last summer and now he almost single-handedly dragged the outgoing world champions back into this Test and the series.

By the time Blundell launched himself at Anderson and hit the pink ball high into the sky to offer the bowler a history equalling return catch, he had made a superlative century and New Zealand had somehow clawed and battled their way close to parity.

Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad are just the second pair in Test history to take 1,000 wickets as a partnership

Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad are just the second pair in Test history to take 1,000 wickets as a partnership

Tom Blundell hit 138 to ensure that New Zealand got close to England's first innings total

Tom Blundell hit 138 to ensure that New Zealand got close to England’s first innings total

Ollie Robinson was England's best bowler as he took four wickets for the visitors

Ollie Robinson was England’s best bowler as he took four wickets for the visitors

So the celebrations were somewhat muted as Broad went to offer his strike partner a shake of the hand and a pat on the back before they trudged off together after a much tougher second day than England had hoped for after setting the tone on Thursday.

When New Zealand were 83 for five and then 182 for seven England looked certain to gain a substantial first innings lead as reward for their enterprise in declaring on the first day on 325 for nine and then exploiting the pink ball under lights to take three cheap wickets.

Instead Blundell produced an innings that would have impressed one of his predecessors as a hard-hitting Black Caps keeper-batsmen in Brendon McCullum as he marshalled the tail and even produced two scoops for four in his Test-best 138.

And it was New Zealand who could permit themselves a wry smile as they pondered a last-wicket stand of 59 between Blundell and the unlikely figure of Blair Tickner that brought them to within 19 runs of an England side that had forfeited their own last wicket.

England came out swinging, as they will always do, when they began their second innings under the lights but both Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley perished rather than entertaining any thoughts of playing for the close.

Then came an extraordinary first appearance as ‘nighthawk’ from Broad, the new role invented for him by Stokes and McCullum as an ultra-attacking nightwatchman.

Broad tried to live up to it as he slogged wildly at his second ball from Scott Kuggeleijn and smashed it high into the air. It should have been an easy catch but both the bowler and keeper Blundell left it for each other and saw the ball fall gently to the ground.

England finished on 79 for two, a lead of 98, still in the ascendancy but with New Zealand very much in the hunt and spectators at the Bay Oval being offered plenty of entertainment. Which is the object of England’s exercise most of all.

Ben Duckett started positively with the bat in the second innings but was caught at slip

Ben Duckett started positively with the bat in the second innings but was caught at slip

Zak Crawley also played positively from the outset before being caught behind

The second day had begun with Broad claiming the 1,000th victim he has shared with Anderson since they were thrown together in Wellington in 2008 by an England side moving on from their Ashes bowling heroes Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard.

That was not exactly one to remember either as nightwatchman Neil Wagner smashed Broad for 16 in three balls before offering Ollie Robinson a catch at mid-on.

When Daryl Mitchell played no stroke and was lbw to Robinson England were well on top but Blundell, who made a hundred and three half centuries in three Tests against England last year, joined forces with Devon Conway to bring New Zealand back into it.

It needed Ben Stokes to bring himself on for one of his short-ball barrages to lure Conway into the trap of pulling straight to Ollie Pope at short square leg but Blundell marched on after being wrongly given out by Aleem Dar caught behind off Anderson on 74.

New Zealand’s last four wickets added 148, with Blundell being dropped by a diving Ben Foakes on 117 and England’s frustration was summed up when Tickner was found by TV to have got the faintest of edges to Broad only for Stokes not to review Dar’s not out call.

That frustration could not overshadow what is a considerable achievement by England’s great old warriors.

Their careers looked over when Andrew Strauss made the controversial call to leave both of them out of England’s ‘red-ball re-set’ under Joe Root and Chris Silverwood in the Caribbean last year.

But Stokes wanted them back as soon as he took over at the start of last summer and they have fully bought in to England’s new methods, attacking like never before and never ‘bowling dry’, to again become integral parts of the side.

There certainly seems no end in sight for them just yet now. Anderson, remarkably, took a Test wicket for the 21st calendar year running when he dismissed Kane Williamson on day one and will not only feature in this year’s Ashes but maybe the next away one too.

Broad came in to bat as England's 'nighthawk', but was fortunate that bowler Scott Kuggeleijn (pictured) did not go for a simple return catch in the closing stages of the day's play

Broad came in to bat as England’s ‘nighthawk’, but was fortunate that bowler Scott Kuggeleijn (pictured) did not go for a simple return catch in the closing stages of the day’s play

Broad, who has taken 476 of those 1,001 together to Anderson’s 525, could conceivably have retired after his home Test against New Zealand at Trent Bridge last year but now he too has shelved any thoughts he had of heading to the commentary box.

‘It’s a lot of wickets, isn’t it?’ said Broad, speaking on BT before play. ‘It’s really special and the way Jimmy is bowling I don’t think there’s any stopping him. It’s been wonderful to be out there seeing the ball nip across left-handers like he’s been doing for years and it’s been a pleasure to bowl at the other end to him.’

The pair will have jobs to do when they bowl again here beyond breaking McGrath and Warne’s record but for now they can reflect yet again on extraordinary careers.

And England will continue enjoying them while they have them rather than hurrying them towards the exit door.

source: dailymail.co.uk