Clashes between England and New Zealand always bring back happy memories for Adam Lyth, and the Yorkshire opener insists he can still add to his solitary Test century against the Kiwis in 2015.
This week sees Joe Root captain England’s current Test team at the start of a two-match series in New Zealand, beginning on Wednesday evening in Mount Maunganui (10pm UK).
But four-and-a-half years ago it was Lyth’s time at Emerald Headingley when, in his second of seven Test appearances to date under sunny May skies, he racked up a superb 107 from 212 balls.
“It’s one of the biggest moments, if not the biggest of my career to be honest,” said Lyth, who played the subsequent home Ashes series before being left out.
“After that hundred, it didn’t go quite so well for me in international cricket, but I knew I was good enough to play at that level when I got the hundred.
“It’s definitely up there as one of the best innings I’ve played up to now.
“It was a very, very proud moment, and it’s a shame there weren’t many more to follow in international cricket.
“But hopefully one day I can get back out there in an England shirt and show people what I’m capable of.”
Lyth’s hundred came in the first innings of a losing cause. He shared a 177-run opening stand with Alastair Cook, whose 75 ensured he became England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer by passing Graham Gooch’s mark of 8,900.
Gary Ballance was at the crease when Lyth reached three figures, slog-sweeping off-spinner Mark Craig for four towards the Western Terrace.
“That was great to have a good mate there to share it with,” continued Lyth. “But, unfortunately, I do keep having to remind him that he ran me out on 107!
“But that innings was one I’ll never forget.
“To do it in front of my friends and family, my home crowd, at Headingley was a dream come true.
“The only other place to do it maybe would have been Lord’s, but your home ground is so special. For people close to me to witness it was the icing on the cake.
“If I don’t ever play for England again, at least scoring your only hundred on your home ground is not so bad. But that’s not the plan.”
In the summer just gone, Lyth went beyond 10,000 first-class runs for Yorkshire, but his last century against the red ball came in September of last year.
It means the likes of Warwickshire’s Dom Sibley and Kent’s Zak Crawley have gone ahead of him in the pecking order to open the batting for England alongside Rory Burns this winter.
Both are in the squad, but Sibley is expected to debut at the Bay Oval having raced beyond 1,000 runs in the Specsavers County Championship in 2019.
“For what he did in the summer, Dom deserves the first go at it. Good luck to him. He’s a very good player, and I’m sure he’ll do well,” added Lyth, who is expecting an intriguing short series.
“They are two very good teams.
“I’m not sure I’ll get to watch much of it with the time difference, but I’d back England all the way. I think they have the edge. Fingers crossed, they can do it.
“They need some consistency, but under Rooty and (new coach) Chris Silverwood I think they’ll find it. It will be an exciting series.”
Lyth is currently midway through a spell of T10 cricket (10 overs per side) in Abu Dhabi.