The ball came off inside edge into the ground as he attempted to pull Neil Wagner, cannoned off his thigh and then somehow just about dislodged the bails.
The latest demonstration of Harry Brook’s exceptional talent had come to the most unfortunate conclusion just when it seemed history beckoned.
This was another action-packed day of Test cricket played in fast forward to launch this series as Brendon McCullum brought ‘Bazball’ back to his native New Zealand.
And at the centre of it was a batter who has made such a spectacular start to his England career he already seems destined to break a mountain of records in all formats.
Brook could easily have claimed two of those records today at Mount Maunganui before he fell for 89 off 81 balls in England’s 325 for nine declared in just 58.2 overs.
First he became the latest England batter to challenge one of the oldest records in the book when it seemed he would reach three figures in fewer than the 76 deliveries Gilbert Jessop took to make a hundred against Australia at the Oval in 1902.
Jimmy Anderson took two key New Zealand wickets as England ended the first day on top
Anderson took the wickets of Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls after Ollie Robinson (right) had got the ball rolling by dismissing Tom Latham
Ben Duckett embraced ‘Bazball’ with a remarkable 84 off 68 balls to start England’s innings
He found 14 boundaries in an impressive display to put England in control early on
Then, as the floodlights took hold and batting became a tricker exercise, Brook became a little more circumspect as he closed in on his fourth century in consecutive Tests, which in itself would have equalled an England record held by Ken Barrington while claiming another first by making four Test hundreds in his first seven innings.
It was not to be thanks to a huge slice of misfortune just after Brook had been unsettled when Wagner struck him a nasty blow on the helmet.
But what a player England have in the 23-year-old, who made centuries in each of their three victories in Pakistan before Christmas, and how he took New Zealand’s weakened attack to task yesterday.
Tim Southee gambled on early movement on a green but flat pitch when he elected to bowl in this day-night first Test and was rewarded when Zak Crawley fell after a horrible innings in which he could and should have been dismissed twice before falling on four.
But it was then another England batter threatened Jessop’s record, made in slightly dubious circumstances when innings were measured more by time than deliveries, just as Jonny Bairstow did against New Zealand at Trent Bridge and Zak Crawley did in Pakistan.
Ben Duckett has made a highly successful return to the England Test side but needs to impress in this two-Test series to make sure he is not the player to make way when Bairstow returns this summer. After today Duckett can look forward to an Ashes summer.
There are no doubts about Duckett’s ability against spin but here he showed he can be effective against pace, albeit with a home attack robbed of Kyle Jamieson and Matt Henry and choosing not to call on Trent Boult, struggling to justify their captain’s insertion.
Harry Brook joined in the fun, hitting 16 boundaries in his innings of 89 off 81 deliveries
New Zealand bowler Neil Wagner checks on Brook after hitting him on the helmet
Duckett said before this Test that England might go ‘even harder’ against the pink ball than in their transformation under McCullum and Ben Stokes that has brought them nine wins in 10 Tests – and that’s exactly what he did, hitting 14 fours in 84 off 68 balls.
And even though Duckett fell in sight of Jessop’s record playing too early at debutant Blair Tickner, Ollie Pope perished to a loose drive and Joe Root was caught trying to hit his second reverse scoop for four but finding Daryl Mitchell anticipating the shot at slip, England, as is their wont, just kept on coming.
None more so than Brook. The Yorkshireman manages to combine a textbook forward defensive with both classical and unorthodox attacking stroke-play and also an incredible amount of power.
Here he displayed his full repertoire, not least when he smashed Southee down the ground for four and then played the shot of the first day, a beautiful lofted straight drive for six off the very next ball.
Zak Crawley was bowled by Wagner for just four runs as New Zealand made an early gain
Ollie Pope was also in decent nick, making 42 before being removed by Tim Southee
Wagner celebrates after getting the wicket of Joe Root, who didn’t get the big score he needed
When Stokes fell to an ugly swat – his determination to be selfless and lead by example is not exactly helping his batting – England were 209 for five and in danger of falling short of where they should be in their hurry to dominate and entertain.
But thanks to Brook and lively contributions from Ben Foakes and Ollie Robinson Stokes was able to make the second earliest declaration in Test history and attempt to get among New Zealand when conditions were at their most bowler friendly.
It worked when Robinson found Tom Latham’s inside edge onto pad and was well caught low by Pope at short leg and should have done again when Crawley dropped a dolly at second slip to reprieve Devon Conway on nine off Jimmy Anderson.
But Stokes declaration was fully justified when Anderson claimed the key wicket of Kane Williamson lbw even though England needed a review when Aleem Dar said not out and then added Henry Nicholls with Crawley this time safely pouching the chance.
Captain Ben Stokes tried to continue the assault but went for 19 off Scott Kuggeleijn’s bowling
Ollie Robinson got England off to the ideal start by getting the wicket of opener Tom Latham
New Zealand finished on 37 for three, still 288 behind, with England very much in control but knowing bowling should be much tougher in daylight on day two.
When England played a Test here at the Bay Oval just over three years ago they made only 241 for four in 90 overs on the first day on their way to a resounding innings defeat. How time has changed and how exciting this series already looks like being for England.
Not least because of the young ‘Bazball’ torchbearer in Brook and the old rejuvenated one in Anderson.
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