Joe Root’s career as England vice-captain got off to a run-filled start this afternoon when he made 98 against New Zealand at Lord’s.
Sheffielder Root, named vice-skipper by new director of cricket Andrew Strauss, rescued England from a precarious position at 30-4 with a typically-elegant innings, to continue his run of stunning form.
He fell just short of what would have been a third century at Lord’s - following his 200* v Sri Lanka and a 180 against Australia - and he was denied a seventh England Test ton when he was caught behind off the bowling of debutant Matt Henry.
Root in particular, a rare reliable presence amid England’s difficulties in all formats in recent times, was badly needed again as Alastair Cook’s team faltered on a sunny morning.
The captain and debutant Adam Lyth made an encouraging fist of the earliest exchanges as the ball swung after Brendon McCullum won the toss.
But Southee did Lyth with a variation, moving down the slope for a faint edge behind.
Gary Ballance was determined to play from deep in his crease but pushed out in front of his pads for a low edge to third slip after Boult switched to the pavilion end.
Then it was over to the pace of first-change Henry.
Cook took on a bouncer but edged his attempted pull behind, and then Ian Bell was bowled by a very good ball which beat the defensive push on the outside and clipped the off bail - a third wicket for the addition of just five runs.
New Zealand-born Ben Stokes (92) took over with a string of commanding boundaries, often on-drives and fierce pulls - one for six off Henry into the Mound Stand, to go with 15 fours - before falling short of a second Test century when he mis-read and left a straight one from off-spinner Mark Craig to be bowled off-stump.