Rory Burns and Dom Sibley ensure England get off to a positive start against New Zealand

Matt Henry celebrates taking the wicket of England captain Joe Root at Edgbaston

England’s positive start to the decisive second Test with New Zealand was obliterated by the loss of four wickets in the afternoon session.

Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root and Ollie Pope all fell as England’s comfort at reaching lunch on 67 without loss turned into trepidation at 152 for four at tea.

Sibley edged behind immediately after lunch when well-set on 35, while Crawley was caught in the slips six balls later.

Matt Henry celebrates taking the wicket of England captain Joe Root at Edgbaston

It was a failure for Zak Crawley, dismissed for a duck by Neil Wagner as England crumbled

It was a failure for Zak Crawley, dismissed for a duck by Neil Wagner as England crumbled

Root was soon following Crawley and Sibley back to the pavilion after falling to Henry for four

Root was soon following Crawley and Sibley back to the pavilion after falling to Henry for four

Matt Henry (second right)  celebrates taking the breakthrough wicket of opener Sibley

Matt Henry (second right)  celebrates taking the breakthrough wicket of opener Sibley

And when Henry, who’d made the breakthrough with Sibley’s wicket, dismissed captain Root for just four, the middle order that failed so abjectly in the first Test at Lord’s was exposed earlier than expected. 

Pope was unable to get going and Ajaz Patel dismissed him as England’s wobble continued – but Rory Burns was leading the way once again on an unbeaten 73 at tea. 

After Root won the toss and elected to bat on a good pitch, there was no initial sign of the batting flakiness that afflicted England in the first Test draw at Lord’s. But all that changed very quickly in the afternoon session. 

The breakthrough came in the first over back with Henry finding a superb line to catch Sibley, set on 35, in two minds whether to play or leave. 

Ollie Pope can't believe it after he is dismissed by Ajaz Patel for 19, England's fourth wicket

Ollie Pope can’t believe it after he is dismissed by Ajaz Patel for 19, England’s fourth wicket

Patel looked delighted after picking up the fourth wicket of England's first innings

Patel looked delighted after picking up the fourth wicket of England’s first innings 

England opener Rory Burns salutes the crowd at Edgbaston after reaching his half-century

England opener Rory Burns salutes the crowd at Edgbaston after reaching his half-century

A bit of away swing caught the edge as a result and carried the ball through to Tom Blundell, the wicketkeeper drafted in to replace the injured BJ Watling. 

Six balls later and England were two down. Crawley hung his bat out at Wagner’s delivery, outside edged and looked back in despair to see Daryl Mitchell take the catch at third slip. 

And Root became Henry’s second victim in the 34th over. Finding late ousting, Root mistimed slightly and that was enough to get a thin edge through to the keeper. 

The wicket of Pope was a gift for New Zealand as he toe-ended through to Blundell just as he was starting to find some rhythm. 

Burns, fresh from his 132 in the first innings at Lord’s last week, continued his fine form to hold England’s steady. 

Dom Sibley (left) and Rory Burns (right) got England off to a solid start against New Zealand

Dom Sibley (left) and Rory Burns (right) got England off to a solid start against New Zealand 

Opener Burns plays a shot as England look to make a positive start to the decisive Test match

Opener Burns plays a shot as England look to make a positive start to the decisive Test match

Dom Sibley drives down the pitch at Edgbaston during the morning session of the first day

Dom Sibley drives down the pitch at Edgbaston during the morning session of the first day

To the delight of most of the 18,000 spectators allowed inside the stadium as part of the Government’s latest pilot event, Burns and Sibley had guided England to 67 without loss at lunch. 

The Birmingham venue was 70 per cent full in the latest step towards the full lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and those in the stands didn’t have to wear face coverings.

It ensured England received a rousing reception when they took the field with Burns and Sibley also cheered back to the dressing room at lunch.  

A full morning of batting without suffering any losses also served as a boost to England’s mood after a trying build-up in which offensive tweets posted by several members of the team were dug up.

Bowler Ollie Robinson, who performed so well on his debut at Lord’s, was suspended pending an ECB allegation into racist and sexist tweets he posted as a teenager, made way in the team for Olly Stone. 

Some 18,000 spectators were inside Edgbaston in Birmingham as part of the pilot event

Some 18,000 spectators were inside Edgbaston in Birmingham as part of the pilot event

Fancy dress was the order of the day for these cavemen in the stands at Edgbaston

Fancy dress was the order of the day for these cavemen in the stands at Edgbaston

These fans came dressed in banana costumes as Edgbaston was allowed to be 70 per cent full

These fans came dressed in banana costumes as Edgbaston was allowed to be 70 per cent full

Meanwhile, James Anderson, another embarrassed by the dredging up of an old tweet, celebrated becoming England’s most capped Test cricketer as he overtook his former captain Alastair Cook with a 162nd appearance.

The 38-year-old was presented with a commemorative shirt ahead of play and received the warm congratulations of his team-mates.

He was then able to put his feet up and watch as Burns and Sibley accumulated in a slow but steady fashion to see off the menace of the new ball.

New Zealand’s six team changes saw the return of Trent Boult to their bowling attack but he was unable to fashion a breakthrough despite a couple of appeals.

There was, however, enough of a hint of swing in the Edgbaston pitch to encourage the tourists, looking to win this short series before taking on India in the World Test Championship final. 

James Anderson has become England's most capped Test cricketer as he makes his 162nd appearance in the second Test with New Zealand at Edgbaston

James Anderson has become England’s most capped Test cricketer as he makes his 162nd appearance in the second Test with New Zealand at Edgbaston

Anderson, 38, was presented with a commemorative shirt ahead of the first day's play

Anderson, 38, was presented with a commemorative shirt ahead of the first day’s play 

New Zealand's Trent Boult, back in the side for this match, appeals for the wicket of Burns

New Zealand’s Trent Boult, back in the side for this match, appeals for the wicket of Burns 

Daryl Mitchell bowls for New Zealand as they looked to make early gains in the second Test

Daryl Mitchell bowls for New Zealand as they looked to make early gains in the second Test

Opener Dom Sibley tucks a shot away during the second and final Test of the series

Opener Dom Sibley tucks a shot away during the second and final Test of the series

England players, wearing t-shirts with anti-discrimination messages, stand before the start

England players, wearing t-shirts with anti-discrimination messages, stand before the start

England have pledged to continue their anti-discrimination drive despite the emergence of embarrassing historic tweets posted by several of the players

England have pledged to continue their anti-discrimination drive despite the emergence of embarrassing historic tweets posted by several of the players

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