Rory Burns and Dom Sibley give England a strong start in the second Test.

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Rory Burns and Dom Sibley give England a strong start in the second Test.

At Edgbaston, Dom Sibley and Rory Burns batted throughout the morning session of England’s second Test against New Zealand, spurred on by the largest home crowd since 2019.

There were 17,000 supporters in attendance as part of a government-sponsored pilot event, with the stadium at 70 percent capacity. They settled down to see a disciplined opening stand and delivered the kind of raucous support that has been sorely lacking throughout the Covid-19 pandemic after being denied an early chance to see James Anderson in action on the day he eclipsed Sir Alastair Cook as England’s most capped Test cricketer.

Burns (32 not out) and Sibley (31 not out) got off to a slow start, putting up 25 runs in the first hour while focusing on the blocks and leavers that would stop the new ball’s early swing.

They expanded their wings after completing that task and safely navigating the dangerous Trent Boult, as New Zealand’s stand-in skipper Tom Latham cycled through his bowling choices.

With six changes to New Zealand’s lineup due to injuries and rotation ahead of the World Test Championship final, England may have a good chance of winning the series 1-0.

England’s strategy in Birmingham was well suited to the first skirmishes of a five-day war, and they will be more than delighted with the foundations after receiving some criticism for playing too conservatively on the final day of the drew Test at Lord’s.

Anderson was watching from the dressing room, having been named in the side for the 162nd time, a milestone that had taken 18 years for the country’s most prolific wicket-taker and now most enduring player.

As part of a four-man pace assault that includes Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, and Olly Stone, his work with the ball is still to come.

In place of Ollie Robinson, who was suspended after racist and sexist tweets tarnished his debut last week and led to ongoing investigations into his and other England’s social media feeds, the latter was recalled on his home ground. (This is a brief piece.)

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