Trent Boult chose Lord's of all settings to reiterate he is capable of dismissing the world's best test batsmen.
With 43 wickets in 14 tests at 30.07 he is becoming more of a "solution" than "experiment" in solving New Zealand's perennial search for a left-arm strike bowler. New Zealand's had just 15 such candidates in 83 years of test cricket. Only one, Richard Collinge (1965-78), has an average under 30 with 116 wickets in 35 tests at 29.25. Of the eight to play for New Zealand in the last 20 years, Shayne O'Connor figures as the best with 53 wickets at 32.52 from 19 tests.
Boult took the wickets of England's premier batsmen Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott overnight. He has now dismissed them both three-times in tests, the most of anyone he's played. His dismissal list includes Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Michael Hussey and Chris Gayle after he debuted as a replacement for Daniel Vettori in the 2011 New Zealand side which beat Australia at Hobart.
On the opening day against England Boult swung a ball away from the left-handed Cook after leaking just two runs from 35 deliveries to him. In contrast he'd been swinging the ball into the right-handed Trott but got one to hold its line. Dean Brownlie snaffled a candidate for catch of the series, diving to his left at third slip. Boult left with figures of two for 29 from 17 overs.
A possible honours board posting looms.
The wry suggestion Cook might be his bunny brought a smile.
"I enjoy bowling to left-handed batsmen,"Boult said. "I'm not sure whether that's because I line myself up with them well or have a clear game plan. It's nice to have Cook's scalp three times in the last few weeks. I'm definitely not calling him my bunny just yet though."
Similarly he was taking tongue-in-cheek credit for the peach which removed Trott. The jury was out whether it swung away late.
"I'm going to sit here and say that it did," Boult laughed. "No one's backing me up on that call yet [in the dressing room]. I'm always trying to develop my game and add new things so it was something I've practised with the Duke ball. To get Trott was special with a delivery like that."
Boult struggled to find rhythm despite figures of five overs, none for two, in his first spell from the Nursery End. He put it down to nerves. That changed with subsequent spells at both ends after collecting his thoughts at lunch. He prefers bowling up the slope from the Pavilion End where the ball angles back into right-handers.
"I didn't do anything too creative or special, I was just trying to hit a good area and get a bit of natural variation. It was good to get wickets and Deano's catch was superb.
"Coming off the field I didn't realise we'd bowled 30 maidens [out of 80] but it was noticeable midway through the day that they were reserved and looking to bat time.
"It didn't swing as much as I thought it would but we'll wait for tomorrow where the first hour will be crucial with a new ball, especially with more cloud cover forecast.
Boult says preparation for the series with the English Duke ball has helped.
"We had three weeks in New Zealand and then the bowling group got some decent time with them in the warm-up matches at Derby and Leicester. It is noticeable how hard they are. They also shine up well."