The Fab Four label is often used to describe the quartet of Steve Smith, Joe Root, Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli.
England find themselves in a good place in the first Test against New Zealand on 4-241 at stumps on Day 1 with Rory Burns, Joe Denly and Ben Stokes all making half-centuries.
The tourists won the toss on a beautiful day in Mount Maunganui and elected to bat first.
It was a great start from debutant Dominic Sibley, who hit the first ball of his innings to the midwicket boundary for four. The quick outfield allowed Sibley to get some more boundaries to the leg-side.
After Burns and Sibley brought up their 50 partnership for the opening wicket, Sibley edged one off Colin de Grandhomme to Ross Taylor at first slip. Sibley had scored 22 and England were 1-52, which in the context of recent English Test innings wasn’t too bad a position to be in after 21.4 overs.
As for Burns’s innings, it could have been curtailed earlier than it was. On 37 not out his outside edge landed between first and second slip with neither of them really making any effort to try and catch it. Burns went on to score his fifth Test match 50 before edging one to the slips not long afterwards, out for 52.
Joe Root’s woeful batting record continued today, getting out cheaply for just two, again edging one to the slip cordon. Root, batting at No. 4, was the only batsman today to really underperform, with Ollie Pope, who ended the day on 18 not out, finding his rhythm with some boundaries late in the day.
Joe Denly scored his fifth Test 50, going on to score 74, including a six straight down the ground off the spin of Mitchell Santner before ending his innings by edging to wicketkeeper Bradley-John Watling.
Stokes’s 20th Test 50 came off 91 balls, the quickest half-century of the day. In one over bowled by Trent Boult, Stokes hit four boundaries in a row with shots all around the ground.
So England are set fair going into Day 2. With Stokes looking like he’ll go on to score a century and with the likes of Jos Buttler still to bat, England should be setting their sights on a score of 350 at least and try to push their first-innings total to 400 or more.
The second day’s play gets underway at 9am AEDT on Friday.
England: 4-241 (90 overs)
Rory Burns (c Watling b de Grandhomme) 52
Dominic Sibley (c Taylor b de Grandhomme) 22
Joe Denly (c Watling b Southee) 74
Joe Root (c Southee b Wagner) 2
Stokes (not out) 67
Pope (not out) 18
Extras: (1 no ball, 1 bye, 4 leg bye) 6
New Zealand bowling
Trent Boult: 0-61 (22 overs)
Tim Southee: 1-45 (21 overs)
Colin de Grandhomme: 2-28 (19 overs)
Neil Wagner: 1-77 (23 overs)
Mitchell Santner: 0-24 (5 overs)
Fall of wickets
1-52; 2-113; 3-120; 4-203