New Zealand beat England after one of the great finishes of all time

  • By Stephan Shemilt
  • Chief cricket writer in Wellington

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Caption,

It is only the second time a Test has been won by one run – the other being West Indies’ win over Australia in Adelaide in 1993

Second Test, Wellington, (Day five of five)

England 435-8 Dec (Brook 186, Root 153*; Henry 4-100) & 256 (Root 95, Wagner 4-62)

New Zealand 209 (Southee 73) & 483 (Williamson 132, Leach 5-157)

England lost to New Zealand by one run in one of the all-time great finishes to the second Test in Wellington.

On a barely believable final day at Basin Reserve, opener James Anderson was taken down on the leg side by Neil Wagner when England needed two to win.

Anderson had joined number 10 Jack Leach with seven required, after Leach added 36 for the ninth wicket with Ben Foakes, who was caught at fine leg for 35.

Anderson fended off a vicious bounce from Wagner, then sensationally hit the next ball for four.

Leach saw off an over from Tim Southee, leaving the stage for Anderson, but Wagner’s fourth wicket left England 257 all out and drew a deafening roar from the Basin Reserve crowd.

Needing 258 to win the match and the series, England fell disastrously to 80-5 and, after a stand of 121 between Joe Root and Ben Stokes, suffered another collapse of 3-14.

Foakes, Leach and Anderson almost got them over the line, but in the end England lost a Test after enforcing the follow-on for the first time, the fourth such loss in Test history.

It ends a run of six straight wins and denies them a seventh straight victory, a feat last achieved by England in 2004.

For New Zealand, their first back-to-back win ties the series 1-1 and protects an unbeaten home run stretching back to 2017.

England’s next Test is against Ireland at Lord’s on June 1 before their quest to regain the Ashes begins on June 16.

An almost completely separate England team begins a white-ball series in Bangladesh on Wednesday.

England’s entertainers finally struck

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Caption,

The series was tied 1–1, following England’s 267-run victory in the first Test

It was a fantastic end to a memorable Test, played out to a rapturous crowd who were given free admission to the Basin Reserve.

England repeatedly state their commitment to making Test cricket entertaining, but this cannot have been in the script.

When captain Stokes enforced the follow-on on the third morning, New Zealand were 226 behind and England dominant.

What followed was a stunning Kiwi comeback, with Kane Williamson making a classy century. The Blacks Caps’ total of 483 was the fourth highest ever made by a team following on against England.

From the fifth day on 48-1, England were favorites on a pitch that remained good for batting until a chaotic collapse of four wickets for 27, the nadir of which was Harry Brook being run out without facing a ball.

Root’s counter-attack and Stoke’s stoicism – he took 116 balls over his 33 – seemed to have regained control, before the pendulum swung again.

Foakes hooked just over Michael Bracewell at deep midwicket when he was on 12 and New Zealand’s short-ball plan grew increasingly ragged.

The target ticked down, anticipation rose and when Foakes finally made a mistake, the sight of 40-year-old Anderson going to the crease was pure theatre.

It looked like he would hit the winning runs for the first time in his distinguished Test career, but instead England suffered only their second one-run defeat in Test history.

This loss will not derail England’s preparations for this summer’s Ashes. Their style is established and they have transformed from the team that was on a 17-Test winning streak this time last year.

Indeed, the biggest concern to come out of this Test is the state of Stokes’ fitness, with the all-rounder often limping and bowling just two overs in the match.

Leach and Anderson refused

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Caption,

Neil Wagner took 4-62 from 15.2 overs

When the prolific Brook was run out, miles off the ground after Root pushed against the ties and took off, Root held his head in his hands.

It came after nightwatchman Ollie Robinson misjudged a move from Southee, Ben Duckett bowled Matt Henry on 33 and the unsettled Ollie Pope did the same to Wagner in 14.

England were in tatters, New Zealand flourished and the Basin Reserve buzzed.

But Root began to make amends for his part in the Brook run-out by launching a ferocious onslaught, aiming off-spin to Bracewell for special punishment.

What made the action all the more compelling was Stokes’ grim determination as he struck out on one leg.

Transformed from the man who struck in the first innings, Stokes took just one run from his first 19 balls, then scored mainly with edges through or over the ties.

Root’s half-century came on a run-a-ball. In the first 50 runs he added with Stokes, the captain’s contribution was just five.

Wagner’s trademark short-ball scheme appeared to be New Zealand’s last hope. It worked.

Stokes’ ugly sweep ended in a top edge to square leg, while Root miscued a move to miss out on his second century of the match.

Stuart Broad guided a Henry bounce to third man and England were bowled out.

But Foakes is unbeaten and Leach has match-winning partnership form, having backed Stokes in the famous Ashes win at Headingley in 2019.

Although Foakes’ decision to deny runs regularly appeared questionable, he ensured that Leach only once faced more than two balls in the over as he gradually took off towards the target.

Foakes had the fight in his grasp only to go for one hook too many, allowing Anderson to write one more chapter in his great career.

Anderson was upset that a Wagner short delivery was not called wide and the next ball the brilliant Wagner had the last word to leave Leach one not out after 31 balls.

“Everyone got their money – it was amazing”

England captain Ben Stokes: “That game as a whole, considering what Test cricket is about, was just incredible.

“The emotions that we went through upstairs and I’m sure the Kiwi lads as well. It was amazing to be involved in. I think everyone got their money’s worth today.

“It’s disappointing to end up losing here after a great winter, but to win four out of five is great for this team.

“We have a few months off before the Ashes start so hopefully we can get back to doing what we love to do.”

New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, who was named player of the match: “It doesn’t feel quite right to be standing here after a cricket match like that and the contributions we’ve seen from both teams throughout.

“A fantastic game of cricket to be a part of. For us as a team, we’ve been struggling in the Test format for a while, so it was nice to get it over the line in this one.

“We had to fight hard to turn some of that momentum around. England are playing incredible cricket at the moment and we were up against that in this game.

“To find a way to fight back and get over the line is a really good feeling.”

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