England v New Zealand: ‘Edgbaston doubles up as world’s largest stag do’

England v New Zealand: 'Edgbaston doubles up as world's largest stag do'

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

For England, the 6,500 fans present each day during the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s hinted at a romance reignited – a message out of the blue from an ex you thought you had forgotten.

The 18,000 inside Edgbaston on the opening day of the second Test was the sort of reunion you see in the arrivals lounge at an airport. A bearhug, kisses and slaps on the back.

Emotion was generated by a year of separation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and added to by a week that has seen England mired in a controversy that even the prime minister has waded into.

Pre-pandemic, the playing of Jerusalem had become part of the morning routine, a signal to be ready rather than actively participate.

In Birmingham it was a call to arms, belted out from every corner to spine-tingling effect, so moving you wondered if England’s Rory Burns and Dom Sibley would have to open the batting with tears in their eyes.

The moment of unity was poignant, a reminder of…