James Anderson became England’s new record cap-holder as he lined up for the second Test against New Zealand, overtaking Sir Alastair Cook with his 162nd appearance.
The 38-year-old seamer was celebrated in the pre-match huddle at Edgbaston, with long-time partner Stuart Broad delivering a speech to mark his 18 years at the highest level.
Already the most prolific wicket-taker in English Test history with 616, Anderson is now the nation’s most enduring player too.
Anderson was afforded a long and generous round of applause by the 17,000 fans in attendance – the largest home crowd since Covid-19 due to the game’s status as a government pilot event – with his achievement being heralded over the public address system.
Perhaps more notably, there was also clear and audible support for the ‘moment of unity’, which saw both teams stand in lines as an anti-discrimination message was read out as the England XI again wore t-shirts standing against seven forms of prejudice.
The gesture started at Lord’s in the series opener, but the suspension of Ollie Robinson following the emergence of historic racist and sexist Twitter posts, and the subsequent pledge to investigate other potentially offensive posts by players, cast it in a fresh light.
Captain Joe Root made it clear on the eve of the match that those events had not shaken his belief in making a public stand in support of inclusivity and he will have been heartened by the response from those in attendance. While the England football team are facing down the prospect of continued boos when they take the knee at Euro 2020, this was a more unified reaction.
England showed one change to their XI from the drawn Test at Lord’s, Olly Stone recalled on his home ground in Robinson’s stead in all-pace attack.
New Zealand, meanwhile, made six alterations with an eye to next week’s World Test Championship final.