Marcus Trescothick gambled and won as England closed on 184 for three in their first innings against Zimbabwe after a curtailed opening day of the first test at Lord's on Thursday.
Trescothick, struggling for form and without a half-century in nine test innings, took the direct route out of trouble as he bludgeoned 59 in swinging, seaming conditions.
Fellow left-hander Mark Butcher, given two huge let-offs, then added 52 not out, leaving Zimbabwe rueing a mix of bad luck and poor play.
Zimbabwe coach Geoff Marsh said: "We are disappointed, really. It was a wicket where we should have got them at least six or seven wickets down.
"Hopefully, we will get our [bowling] lines a bit closer to the stumps tomorrow. England played and missed a fair bit, but good sides make the batsmen nick [the ball]," he said.
Having won the toss, their often wayward attack failed to create any concerted pressure after a rain delay.
Trescothick's audacious approach had been in stark contrast to fellow opener Michael Vaughan.
Vaughan, the world's most successful batsman last year and with the much tighter technique, retreated into his shell in an attempt to survive only to fall for eight after batting for almost an hour and a quarter.
Vaughan missed more than he hit. At one stage he was beaten outside the off stump three balls in a row by Andy Blignaut.
Trescothick, who began with a slice past gully for four in the first over of the day, opted instead for attack.
Relying mainly on straight-bat shots down the ground, he never looked at his best but appeared Bradmanesque in comparison to his out-of-touch partner.
Vaughan's good fortune ran out after 42 balls with the score on 45 when a leg-side delivery from the hard-working Heath Streak clipped the bottom of his thigh pad and somehow worked back into the stumps.
Trescothick, having put on 76 for the second wicket with Butcher, finally edged Blignaut to Sean Ervine at second slip, who took the catch above his head. He scored nine fours in a 115-ball knock spanning two and a half hours.