If only England's cricket was as bright as their clothing. In the pre-match hype England talked a good fight, promising to play an aggressive, vibrant and adventurous game. Peter Moores, the England coach, even suggested his side had reached the stage in their development when they could play the sort of cricket they wanted, no matter the opposition.
It did not appear like that yesterday. Michael Vaughan joined Graham Gooch as the most successful Test batsman at Lord's when he chipped Daniel Vettori over midwicket for four to complete a sixth hundred at the home of cricket – with Vettori claiming five wickets, it meant that for the first time in the same match both captains earned a placed on the honours board – but his emotions would have been tempered by the failure of England's batsmen to grab the Test by the scruff of the neck.
England entered the fourth day with 20 wickets in hand and minimal chance of losing the game. It was the sort of platform from which Australia consistently counter-attack, an approach that often turns draws into thrilling victories. But England remained cautious until they were in touching distance of New Zealand's score of 277.
The approach made the pre-Test comments of Vaughan and Moores appear more fanciful than factual, but the fragile nature of New Zealand's batting line-up means that an unlikely victory could yet be achieved. Vaughan will be hoping that the final day does not follow the same pattern as the previous four Tests here, when England have pushed hard for a win but run out of time. The record should have encouraged them to show greater urgency. In the final hour New Zealand reached 40 without loss, reducing their first innings deficit to two.
Vaughan's 18th Test hundred proved there remains plenty of life and fight in him yet. In full flow there are few more elegant players than the England captain, but yesterday's performance was workmanlike and defiant. It was that of a man determined to prove his doubters wrong. He was dropped at slip on 64 and his celebrations on reaching three figures were controlled, but it was clear to see the performance meant a lot to him. It virtually assured him of the captaincy in next summer's Ashes.
"I had a feeling when I arrived at Lord's I was going to get another big score," Vaughan said. "It is surreal to get those feelings but when you walk into the dressing room and see your name on the board five times that gives you a huge lift. Lord's feels like home. I got my shot selection right; I knew the shots that were required on that pitch."
Vaughan was not the only captain with a point to prove. Vettori's preparations for the Test were far from convincing. The Black Caps captain injured his spinning finger in a warm-up game and had bowled only 11 competitive overs in England before yesterday. He had also been criticised for arriving late on the tour so he could cash in at the lucrative Indian Premier League. Vettori answered his detractors too, bowling beautifully for his five wickets. The 29-year-old captain fully deserved his success, bowling with guile and skill despite a fortnight of inactivity.
He came within millimetres of taking the second Test hat-trick at Lord's too. Vettori trapped Kevin Pietersen lbw for three in his fourth over before changing to the Pavilion End, the end where left-arm spinners rarely ply their trade. Then, in his 10th over, Vettori dismissed Paul Collingwood and Tim Ambrose with consecutive balls. Collingwood edged a ball that turned sharply to slip while Ambrose padded up to a delivery that skidded on with the arm and hit him plumb in front. Stuart Broad survived the hat-trick ball only just, narrowly missing an unconvincing prod outside his off-stump.
Broad quickly found his bearings, adding 61 with Vaughan, but it was only when England were within touching distance of New Zealand's total that they looked to be positive. Vaughan's circumspection was understandable given his poor form and a wicket fell each time England tried to up their scoring rate. Even so the innings needed to be more dynamic.
Broad was bowled by Jacob Oram, Ryan Sidebottom edged to slip and Panesar became Vettori's fourth victim when he offered short leg a simple catch. Vettori's final and most satisfying wicket, which placed his name on the honours board in the visitors' dressing room, was that of Vaughan, caught in the deep looking for quick runs. The catch gave him his 250th in Test cricket.
Following three days of terrible weather it was delightful to see Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss stride out with the sun on their backs. The pair tried to seize the initiative by scampering singles but the Black Caps' attack, led by Chris Martin, continued to give them very little to hit.
Cook, on 61, went first edging a beauty from Martin through to the wicket-keeper. Strauss completed his 12th Test half-century but became agitated as he struggled to get the ball away. In frustration he attempted to work a straight ball from Oram to leg and was rightly given out.
Expectation is high every time Pietersen walks out to bat and England's hopes of gaining a substantial lead by the close were reliant on him. But on this occasion he failed, being adjudged lbw pushing forward to Vettori. Ian Bell played a couple of crisp shots before edging another beauty from Martin through to Brendon McCullum.
England are unlikely to change their bowling attack for Friday's second Test in Manchester but they will need to amend their squad after Stephen Harmison broke Matthew Hoggard's thumb during a County Championship match between Durham and Yorkshire. Ironically, the break gives Harmison an outside chance of regaining his place. Chris Tremlett would have been Hoggard's likely replacement but he suffered a back spasm while playing for Hampshire. If the selectors choose to overlook Harmison, his county colleague Graham Onions could be drafted in.
Shot of the Day
The on-drive is the hardest stroke a batsman can play, especially against a spinner that is turning the ball away from them. But Michael Vaughan executed just that shot off Daniel Vettori beautifully on the way to his hundred. The ball did not leave the ground and rolled in to the Tavern Stand boundary for four.
Ball of the Day
Left-arm spinners bowl the majority of their overs at Lord's from the Nursery End, using the slope to aid their movement. But Daniel Vettori produced his best ball from the Pavilion End, spinning it sharply away from Paul Collingwood, finding the outside edge of his bat and carrying to slip.
Moment of the Day
After three awful days it was gratifying to watch almost a full day's play. The highlight was the sun making a belated and much needed appearance before the start of play. For once the crowd could watch the cricket rather than the umpires, in fear of them reaching for their light-meters.
Scoreboard from Lord's
England won toss
New Zealand – First Innings 277,
England – First Innings
(Friday: 68 for 0)
A J Strauss lbw b Oram 63
233 min, 174 balls, 6 fours
A N Cook c McCullum b Martin 61
184 min, 109 balls, 8 fours
*M P Vaughan c Marshall b Vettori 106
303 min, 214 balls, 11 fours
K P Pietersen lbw b Vettori 3
12 min, 9 balls
I R Bell c McCullum b Martin 16
45 min, 35 balls, 2 fours
P D Collingwood c Taylor b Vettori 6
39 min, 13 balls, 1 four
†T R Ambrose lbw b Vettori 0
2 min, 1 ball
S C J Broad b Oram 25
84 min, 65 balls, 3 fours
R J Sidebottom c Taylor b Mills 16
54 min, 53 balls, 2 fours
M S Panesar c Flynn b Vettori 0
3 min, 2 balls
J M Anderson not out 0
8 min, 6 balls
Extras (b3 lb7 w1 nb12) 23
Total (488 min, 111.3 overs) 319
Fall: 1-121 (Cook) 2-148 (Strauss) 3-152 (Pietersen) 4-180 (Bell) 5-208 (Collingwood) 6-208 (Ambrose) 7-269 (Broad), 8-317 (Sidebottom) 9-318 (Panesar) 10-319 (Vaughan).
Bowling: Martin 32-8-76-2 (nb6) (6-2-15-0, 15-3-41-1, 5-2-7-1, 6-1-13-0); Mills 22-3-60-1 (nb6) (5-0-10-0, 10-3-24-0, 4-0-19-0, 3-0-7-1); Southee 16-2-59-0 (3-0-19-0, 7-0-25-0, 6-2-15-0); Oram 19-5-45-2 (w1) (5-0-15-0, 8-2-18-1, 6-3-12-1); Vettori 22.3-4-69-5 (8-2-22-1, 5-2-11-2, 9.3-0-36-2).
Progress: Second day: Bad light stopped play 3.14-3.26pm 15 for 0 (Strauss 3, Cook 12) 5.3 overs. BLSP 3.57pm, tea taken 26 for 0 (Strauss 9, Cook 16) 12 overs. Bad light prevented restart until 4.58pm. 50: 72 min, 16.1 overs. BLSP 5.40pm, close 68 for 0 (Strauss 24, Cook 43) 21.3 overs. Third day (min 98 overs): rain delayed start until 11.25am. Rain stopped play 12.07pm – close 89 for 0 (Strauss 31, Cook 53) 30.2 overs. Fourth day (min 98 overs): 100: 159 mins, 33.5 overs. 150: 242 mins, 52.3 overs. Lunch: 160 for 3 (Vaughan 12, Bell 6) 57 overs. 200: 316 mins, 71 overs. New ball taken after 81 overs at 233 for 6. Tea: 239-6 (Vaughan 61, Broad 10) 85 overs. 250: 401 min, 91 overs. 300: 462 min, 105.3 overs. Innings closed 5.49pm.
Strauss's 50: 205 min, 151 balls, 6 fours. Cook's 50: 124 min, 79 balls, 7 fours. Vaughan's 50: 168 min, 125 balls, 6 fours.
New Zealand – Second Innings
J M How not out 26
61 min, 49 balls, 4 fours
A J Redmond not out 14
61 min, 41 balls, 2 fours
Total (for 0, 61 min, 15 overs) 40
To bat: J A H Marshall, L R P L Taylor, †B B McCullum, D R Flynn, J D P Oram, *D L Vettori, K D Mills, T G Southee, C S Martin.
Bowling: Sidebottom 4-2-7-0 (3-1-7-0, 1-1-0-0); Anderson 2-0-10-0, Broad 4-0-19-0, Panesar 5-2-4-0 (one spell each).
Umpires: S A Bucknor (WI) and S J A Taufel (Aus).
TV replay umpire: N J Llong.
Match referee: R S Madugalle.