New Zealand have won the first Test match against England by an innings and 65 runs after a Neil Wagner five-for completed yet another woeful English batting performance.
After they collapsed to 3-55 in the evening session of Day 4, England went for a slow scoring rate, like they did at Headingley against Australia before Ben Stokes exploded.
This approach did work with 43 runs scored in the morning session for the loss of just one wicket – that of Joe Root, who steered a short ball to Tom Latham at gully.
The first ball after lunch was beautifully clipped to the boundary by Stokes, who formed a 50 partnership with Joe Denly. That is the end of what went well in the innings for England.
Firstly, Stokes dragged one off Tim Southee straight into off stump. The worst part about this wicket was that he didn’t even need to play at it as it was probably going to whistle through to the wicketkeeper BJ Watling.
Then, Denly feathered one with his glove, which then went through to the keeper.
Not long afterwards, Ollie Pope departed after he was sensationally caught out by Mitchell Santner, who took all three wickets of England’s collapse on Sunday afternoon, diving to his left to take the catch. Santner has had a brilliant Test match with bat, ball and in the field. Watling was preferred for man of the match, though – his double century got the runs that put New Zealand ahead.
Jos Buttler’s wicket was horrendous. He went for the leave, only for the ball to clatter into his off stump. If they weren’t staring down the barrel of defeat already, England certainly were at 8-138, more than 100 runs from simply getting New Zealand to bat again.
Jofra Archer and Sam Curran did put on a 50 partnership for the ninth wicket but it couldn’t even get the tourists to 200 runs. Neil Wagner got two wickets in the final two balls to first get Archer out, pulling straight to Matt Henry on the boundary, before trapping Stuart Broad LBW first ball. England were all out for 197. New Zealand had won by an innings and 65 runs.
England have thrown everything bar the kitchen sink in terms of the batting line-up. However, they still seem to have no idea how to bat for long periods of time even though they got a good first innings score of 353. The bowling is all over the place, especially with the tactical misuse of Jofra Archer.
He cannot be used as one of the two main bowlers because, over time, his speed will diminish and he will just become a standard pace bowler with no speciality whatsoever.
The final Test match of the series in Hamilton gets underway from Friday, continuing until next Tuesday.
New Zealand will be hoping to outclass England in another great all-round performance, as seen this week in Mount Maunganui.
England’s problems are a long way from being completely solved.