New Zealand arrived in England in the spring of 2015 with a reputation as a difficult side to beat. In the previous 12 months.
They had earned creditable draws in Test series away to West Indies and Pakistan and had rolled over Sri Lanka comfortably at home. Key batsman Kane Williamson had scored more than 1,000 runs at 89 over eight Tests. It was Williamson whose innings of 132 gave the Kiwis what looked like an overwhelming first innings lead of 134 as Lord’s hosted the first of two Test matches towards the end of May.
England slumped to 30 for 4 on the first morning before a blistering counter-attack from Ben Stokes, ably supported by Joe Root, got the hosts back in the game. Both fell in the 90s, but half-centuries from Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali continued England’s recovery. New Zealand had an opening stand of 148 to build their reply on, and Williamson took full advantage, facing 262 balls over more than six hours. When he fell, BJ Watling held the tail together with an unbeaten 61 as New Zealand built a formidable lead.
Two telling second innings contributions swung the game back in England’s favour. Alastair Cook batted exactly nine hours for 162, and after a fine 84 from Root wiped out the deficit, Stokes joined his skipper and crashed 101 from 92 balls, including 15 fours and three sixes. It was the fastest Test hundred ever scored at Lord’s, with Stokes reaching three figures from his 85th ball. Unexpectedly after their first innings advantage, New Zealand were set 345 to win on the final morning. Who else would it be but Stokes to make the telling contribution, claiming the key wickets of Williamson and skipper Brendon McCullum on his way to 3 for 38. New Zealand fell 124 runs short, but the match aggregate of 1,610 runs was the highest ever in a Lord’s Test.