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

England made an encouraging start to their series decider with New Zealand as openers Rory Burns and Dom Sibley racked up the runs in the first session at Edgbaston.

After Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat on a good pitch, there was no sign of the batting flakiness that afflicted England in the first Test draw at Lord’s.

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 guided England to 67 without loss at lunch.  

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

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

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

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

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

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 

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

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

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