sport news England v New Zealand: Joe Root's costly drop summed up failings in the field trends now
The chance came to Joe Root as if in slow motion, low and catchable at first slip. After his heroics at Lord's, he had spoken about repaying Ben Stokes for all he had done during his own time in charge. Now, Stokes was the bowler – and Root seemed certain to return another favour.
Yet somehow, a man with 153 Test catches to his name – behind only Alastair Cook among England's non-wicketkeepers – allowed the ball to cannon off his hands and drop to the turf.
Sympathetic ex-pros in the commentary box wondered if it had dipped late. Most thought it a dolly. Either way, Stokes had been robbed of a third wicket, and New Zealand had avoided slipping to 170 for five, having moments earlier been 161 for two.
Joe Root was guilty of a costly drop as England were left frustrated by New Zealand's batting
The batsman was Daryl Mitchell, who had three at the time. He walked off at stumps 19 runs short of a second century in this LV= Insurance series, and with the tourists an imposing 318 for four. It was the kind of moment that can decide a Test, and possibly more.
Earlier in the day, Zak Crawley had dived optimistically from second slip in search of an edge from Henry Nicholls off Stuart Broad – but succeeded only in taking an easier chance from Root at first.
Later, neither Crawley – perhaps now placing caution before valour – nor Jonny Bairstow flinched as Tom Blundell edged Broad between second and third. Broad looked furious. Up in the pavilion, Brendon McCullum looked impassive behind his shades.
A few dropped slip catches would normally barely merit a mention, but the errors were sloppy
Under normal circumstances, a few dropped slip catches by England's Test team would barely merit a mention. But this is the era of Stokes and McCullum, who both regard sharpness in the field should as a fact of life.
It had begun so well at Lord's, too, Bairstow