The first part of the day didn’t go to plan, quick runs didn’t come, Cook was out for 162, Ali made 43 but England were all out for 345. As an England fan I felt confident we couldn’t lose but how nervous would the kiwis make us? After two balls the answer was “not very”. Five balls later it was “not at all” and when Taylor fell with the score at 12-3 a win seemed inevitable. England’s bowling in the hour before lunch was intense and brilliant.
NZ performed better after lunch, Williamson hung around a while with Watling, (who had come in ahead of McCullum for some reason) but Stokes ripped out two in two balls and England believed again. Watling remained with Anderson and they put on 107 runs, could the kiwis hang on? No, Wood bounced out BJ and Root snared Corey. The game was up, NZ hung around a bit but eventually all out for 220 and England had won a brilliant test match.
The stats; 40 wickets for 1610 runs in five full days of cricket.
This New Zealand side is possibly the best that has left their shores, certainly much better than the abject rabble I watched surrender in a morning at Trent Bridge in 2008. For England to beat them is an impressive performance made even more so because we kept battling back from adversity. At 30-4 we are used to seeing England all out for 150 but instead we recovered to 389. The Kiwis reached 400-3 but England clawed it back to 523 all out. Again second innings we were 25-2 and 75-3 but reached 478 in quick time too. Then on the last day our bowlers had obviously learnt from their first innings mistakes and pitched the ball up!
Credit to New Zealand, they came and played the game in good spirit and had spells in the game when they were dominant. In the end they may have become victims of their own egos and perished because of their all out attacking philosophy?
As for England, well we looked a good team in this match but there’s another tough test starting on Friday in Leeds. After this one we should be able to assess our Ashes chances…