Ben Stokes leads England out, Blundell and Mitchell follow them. Headingley looks gloriously packed.
A note of encouragement for NZ, and foreboding for England:
Here you are for yer overseas TMS link – thanks to Raiza Ballim for the prompt.
“Talking of strange dismissals,” writes 1980s sports guru Steve Pye: “I’ve always had a soft spot for Wayne Phillips and the 1985 Ashes incident. Probably helps that I’m English.”
Yeah I remember that – a massive moment. Australia had been digging in and recovering from the previous evening’s Richard Ellison-inspired collapse, then that freak dismissal prised it open again. An English win masterminded by players that swiftly faded from prominence at international level thereafter – Ellison and Tim Robinson.
True to forecasts, it’s a bit cloudy in LS6 this morning. The ball is still pretty new. England will have chances.
It’s not often a spinner takes centre-stage on a first day at Headingley, but things happen around Jack Leach at this place, and – having bowled well with the hard ball – he then took the most talked-about wicket of the series. And here’s some pre-play reading about it from our Jonathan Liew:
Though those who’ve played the game at a more, er, rudimentary level know that these kinds of things do happen in this great game of ours:
Who’d have thought, at the start of this series, that its two most unshiftable New Zealand batters would be Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell? But for the third Test in a row, here we are, the pair adding to their restorative partnerships at Lord’s and Trent Bridge with another one at Headingley that meant a day that looked set to be firmly England’s ended up even.
Of course, if England hadn’t been so curiously timid in opting against reviewing a denied stonewall lbw shout against Mitchell when on eight, I could be filling this preamble with more paeans to the Red-Ball Reset. We may yet get to do so later of course – this Test is beautifully poised and a couple of wickets in the first hour will put the hosts back in the ascendancy on a surface that looks a pleasure to bat on.
The weather, however, could get a little more Headingley-ish in the next couple of days, which might add a note of jeopardy and put a spring in the steps of bowlers. Whatever, you’ll want to keep following. It’s Leeds, where Stuff happens, as we have already seen with Henry Nicholls’ outlandish dismissal yesterday.
Bring it all on. Play starts at 11am BST.