The England door appeared to have closed on Rob Key's Test career more than three years ago after the tour to South Africa in 2005, but yesterday the Kent captain thrust a figurative foot through it again.
Key, ably assisted by the reinvented batsman James Tredwell, sentenced a weakened New Zealand team to a long hard day in the field with the 36th hundred of his career.
He and Tredwell, who also reached three figures, compiled the highest stand, an unbroken 299, for any wicket against New Zealand surpassing the 277 set by Frank Woolley and Les Ames which had stood since 1931, and it is also the highest partnership for Kent against any touring side, eclipsing the 283 set by Wally Hardinge and Woolley in 1924.
Key gave just one chance, on 43, edging an attempted drive at a ball from New Zealand's Test prospect Tim Southee. The ball flew hard and high to second slip, where the unfortunate Peter Fulton only succeeded in palming the ball over his head.
Key built on his luck and with the England Lions team due to be named today his timing would appear to be immaculate. During his six-hour stint, Key faced 260 balls, smacking 27 boundaries. Tredwell's effort was as impressive. He has been converted from a spinner who occupied the lower order and scored the second hundred of his first class career.
The tourists are missing five key players – their captain Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Jacob Oram, Ross Taylor and Kyle Mills – but even so it was a sterling effort by the Kent players .