Devon Conway justified New Zealand’s show of faith with a deeply impressive century on Test debut as England’s all-seam frontline attack toiled for scant reward on an unresponsive Lord’s surface.
Ollie Robinson marked his England bow with 2-50 but the opening day of the first Test belonged to South Africa-born Conway, who was preferred to Tom Blundell and Will Young as Tom Latham’s opening partner.
He rewarded the decision with a series of punchy drives and stout defence in a self-assured 136 not out, becoming the sixth batsman to make a debut hundred at the Home of Cricket, as the tourists reached 246-3 at stumps.
James Anderson dismissed Kane Williamson for the seventh time – the most success any bowler has had against the Kiwi captain – but it was a rare moment of joy as he equalled the record for most England caps.
Robinson was spirited after being preferred to Craig Overton but there was no room for a specialist spinner in England’s XI on a day where the hosts played in front of a home crowd for the first time since the summer of 2019.
They worked themselves into a position of promise after New Zealand slipped to 114-3 in mid-afternoon but Conway and Henry Nicholls (46 not out) put on an unbroken 132-run stand to subdue Joe Root’s side.
Unlike New Zealand’s last visit to St John’s Wood — when they were beaten by England in a dramatic 2019 World Cup final — there were few fireworks at the start of this two-match series.
In the first hour of the final session of the day, Conway crowned an unforgettable day by reaching three figures with an audacious flick off Robinson for his 11th four.