Black Caps thrash England to take Test series
England’s dismal second-Test defeat was confirmed inside an hour on the fourth morning at Edgbaston, giving New Zealand a 1-0 series win.
The home side lost their last wicket to the first ball of the day, with Olly Stone edging behind off Trent Boult.
That meant New Zealand had only 38 runs to chase, which they did inside 11 overs to win by eight wickets.
It is England’s first home series defeat since 2014, when Sri Lanka won a two-match series 1-0.
And it is New Zealand’s first success in England in 22 years, and leaves them in fine fettle heading into the World Test Championship final against India at the Ageas Bowl that starts on Friday.
England move on to limited-overs matches against Sri Lanka and Pakistan before a five-Test series against India begins in August.
England left scrambling for answers
For some time, England have been saying they are building towards this winter’s Ashes series, but, gradually, this team is finding problems and losing answers.
Not once in 2021 have England fielded a full-strength Test side. They began the year with three successive victories but have now lost four of their past five.
Yes, there have been injuries to Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, while the need to rest Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran has been explained as a way to manage workloads and protect players from issues related to the COVID era.
Still, even with Stokes and Buttler unavailable, England have fielded a near full-strength top six in this series and their batting has been abject.
Not only that, but their catching has been woeful and the spin of Jack Leach has been curiously ignored in both Tests against New Zealand.
England have been adamant they have a plan, that their Test side will come together fit and firing when it matters most.
The signs are that it is becomingly increasingly difficult to make good on that promise.
Edgbaston left unfulfilled
Off the field, this has been a comforting return to something approaching normality, with 18,000 raucous fans inside Edgbaston on each of the first three days.
For that reason, it is a great shame for the fans who began arriving at 09:00 BST on Sunday that there was so little cricket to enjoy.
At 122-9 overnight, 37 ahead, the best England could hope for was to stretch the match as long as possible.
Instead, Stone fenced Boult into the gloves of Tom Blundell, leaving most inside the ground – including New Zealand – laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.
Stuart Broad at least continued his fine form by having Devon Conway nick behind, and Will Young chopped on off Stone, but these only delayed the inevitable.
Spectators at least got a full refund because there were fewer than 15 overs played, while England’s opening Euro 2020 match against Croatia at 14:00 will be shown on a big screen, but that seems scant consolation for a lost day of Test cricket.
Brilliant New Zealand show England the way
If there remained any doubts about whether New Zealand will provide stiff competition to India in the World Test Championship final, they have been cast aside in two Tests where they comprehensively outplayed England.
Given their preparations over the past two weeks, New Zealand may even arrive in Southampton as favourites to win.
Their batsmen gave England a lesson in playing late, playing straight and valuing their wickets. Their bowlers maintained a fuller length. Whereas England’s catching is a lottery, the Kiwis miss virtually nothing.
While England’s players have rested, a number of the New Zealanders came straight from the abandoned Indian Premier League into this series.
When New Zealand rotated – they made six changes for the second Test – their collective strength was not diminished.
Their reward was a first Test win in five attempts at Edgbaston, having first visited this ground in 1958. (BBC Sport)