England 258 for 7 (Burns 81, Lawrence 67*, ) vs New Zealand
Half-centuries to Rory Burns and Dan Lawrence restored order for England after a New Zealand attack bolstered by Trent Boult threatened to derail the hosts on an opening day when the ball and the momentum swung at Edgbaston with entertaining effect.
Boult, New Zealand's leading seamer, linked up with the squad on Saturday having served his post-IPL quarantine period and was an automatic inclusion amid a staggering six changes to the side which drew the first Test at Lord's.
With Kane Williamson (elbow) and Mitchell Santner (finger) out because of injury and BJ Watling (back problem) replaced by Tom Blundell shortly before play began, Will Young and and Ajaz Patel came into the side. They were joined by Boult for Tim Southee and Matt Henry for Kyle Jamieson, while Daryl Mitchell replaced Colin de Grandhomme as New Zealand showed an embarrassment of riches ahead of next week's World Test Championship final against India.When Boult prised out opener Rory Burns for 81 with his 12th ball after the tea break, he removed England's main hope for recovery at that point. It came soon after England had lost three wickets for 13 runs in less than 20 minutes and slumped to 152 for 4 in the afternoon session.
But Lawrence stepped in with an assured and unbeaten 67 to guide England to the close in a far more comfortable position than had looked likely between lunch and tea.
After removing Burns, Boult struck with the first delivery of his next over, removing James Bracey for a duck - his second in as many innings - but Olly Stone survived the hat-trick ball and went on to steady the innings with Lawrence, the pair putting on 47 runs for the seventh wicket.
The Stone-Lawrence union was a much-needed bright spot for England, along with Burns' opening stand of 72 with Dom Sibley, which had steered their side to the lunch break at 67 without loss. What ensued in between times had the potential to devastate England's innings.
Burns and Sibley batted sedately but smartly in the morning, Sibley's knock bearing little resemblance to his grinding 60 off 207 balls which helped England salvage a draw in the fourth innings at Lord's. Sibley struck five fours on his way to 35 from 84 deliveries, including one through square leg to bring up England's fifty.
But when they returned from lunch, New Zealand's bowlers started to find some swing and it proved a weapon.
Henry struck with the sixth ball after the break when Sibley was caught betwixt and between by a ball just back of a length and in the corridor which swung away enough to find an edge and carry to stand-in keeper Blundell.
Zak Crawley's lean patch continued as he followed up twin scores of two at Lord's with a duck. Having been rushed into a defensive shot by a Neil Wagner ball that swung in, Crawley hung his bat out to the next delivery which moved less and edged to Mitchell at third slip.
Henry then claimed his second wicket - the prized scalp of Joe Root - with a late outswinger that caught the edge and was snapped up by Blundell.
Burns brought up his fifty with an authoritative drive through extra cover for two as the wickets tumbled around him. Ollie Pope stuck with him for a while but not long enough, falling for 19 when he was caught behind off Patel.
As Burns and Lawrence looked to rebuild, Boult came to the fore, luring Burns into an attempted cover drive with a ball that swung away and clipped the outside edge, with Tom Latham, acting captain in Williamson's absence, taking a good, low catch at second slip. Bracey followed and with six men down, only three had reached double figures.
That's when Stone and Lawrence got to work and they managed to stall New Zealand's momentum until Patel had Stone out lbw. From there, Lawrence really took control though. He struck Boult for two fours in an over late in the day, the first a gorgeous drive through extra cover and then a neat clip off the pads.
Mark Wood stuck with him to be 16 not out at the close, his straight hit for four off Henry mirrored by Lawrence off Boult on the next ball and the 70-percent-capacity crowd enjoyed it - and every moment of the day - if the noise, colour and movement that heralded the return of fans under a post-pandemic Government trial was anything to go by.