Mitchell and Blundell put together an unbroken 180 position as New Zealand finished the day 227-4; England captain Ben Stokes acted as “enforcer” in search of that fifth wicket; watch day three from 10.15am Saturday on Sky Sports Cricket
Nasser Hussain thinks Ben Stokes got the calls right as England looked for a wicket on day two
Nasser Hussain, while impressed with the partnership between Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell on day two at Lord’s, also believes New England captain Ben Stokes got his calls right as he hunted for a fifth wicket.
Mitchell (97th) and Blundell (90th) formed a 180-run partnership, surviving through the afternoon and evening session in a fifth-wicket position that England were unable to end.
For Hussain, the pressure is now on England to show patience on the ball in tomorrow’s morning session as they take on a side known for finding a way to fight back in a test match.
“The game situation, they are against it here, like they were in the early innings when they were 7-0 and this typifies New Zealand cricket,” Hussain said.
“When they have their back against the wall, they always find a couple of cricketers who will get them out of the hole.
“They’re not household names, they’re not the ones everyone shouts about, but they’re tough, tough cricketers and they’ve got good solid technique – they’re organized in the situation.
“Mitchell had a bit of a cerebral fade, maybe from an over against Jimmy Anderson when he tried to hit him over the top, but he went back to the way that made him run.
“They were itching to be there at the end of the game because tomorrow morning, after one, there’s a new ball — it’s Broad and Anderson and he could do a little bit, so they played short ball well. They played everything well.”
In a change of course, the new captain Stokes took on the role of enforcer, bringing in a shorter field to try to force the error.
While Hussain has disagreed with Stokes taking on that role in the past, he believes the captain was the only right person for the job at an England team that has a growing list of injuries, including Jofra Archer and Mark Wood.
He added: “I thought he got it right today, he bowled four overs.
“I didn’t agree with that in the winter because the Ashes releases were nibbling and it was an unusual Ashes tour that did a bit and England still won.
“While Australia was putting it out, England were going with this short material from Ben Stokes.
“Ben had only bowled 12 overs before the Ashes tour in the six months he was out injured and he took time off from the game for other reasons so his body was already under strain and it was putting him under immense strain. In the end , he broke on that tour.
“Here for four overs I thought it was understandable and I thought he almost got a wicket.
“Mitchell almost butted him twice with Stuart Broad midway through, but it’s not ideal – that’s back-breaking work, then you lose your captain, you lose your best all-rounder and one of your best batsmen on the side.
“But if you don’t have Wood and you don’t have Archer and it’s flat and you’re 35 and 39 and your spinner (Matt Parkinson) right now is finding his way to Test cricket, who else is going to?
“He told you in the interview ‘I don’t ask other people to do things that I don’t do’ and that is what he has shown today: ‘I will do it myself’.
“We miss Shane Warne and we will certainly miss him tomorrow morning.
“He’d be there looking at him (Parkinson) and checking everything out: he lowers his arm a little bit and how he throws a little bit faster because he’s a little bit slow right now.”
Assistant coach Paul Collingwood admitted that England’s attempts to enter a new era under Brendon McCullum remained “a work in progress” after New Zealand took control on day two of the Lord’s Test.
“We know things aren’t going to change overnight. It’s going to take some time to get the team to play the way we want it to play. Obviously, that’s a work in progress,” he said.
“Brendon is a glass-half-full kind of guy. He’ll keep his cool, he won’t change his values and beliefs just for a ticket, that’s for sure, and neither will Ben.