ngland wrapped up a first win in New Zealand since 2008 as the hosts crumbled in the face of James Anderson to lose their final five wickets in the opening session of day four.
It was always going to be a matter of when, not if, at the Bay Oval. Starting the day at 63 for five and a mammoth 331 runs still behind, New Zealand were batting for nothing more than personal pride and to delay the inevitable.
But, an extra day on the beaches of Mount Maunganui is an attractive proposition for anyone, and when Michael Bracewell fell tamely to Jack Leach in the third over of the day, it soon became apparent that no one was planning on hanging around for long.
An over after Bracewell fell, James Anderson struck twice in two balls to dismiss Scott Kuggeleijn LBW and Kiwi captain Tim Southee, caught at slip, and New Zealand slipped to 71 for eight.
Daryl Mitchell provided some resistance, striking Leach for two sixes as he made a morale boosting half-century, but he ran out of partners at the other end as Neil Wagner edged Anderson behind to Ben Foakes before Blair Tickner was clean bowled to wrap up a fully deserved 267-run victory for England. It is England’s tenth win in eleven matches in the McCullum/Stokes BazBall era.
“It probably does sound silly to say that the results aren’t at the forefront of our mind and we’ve done really well,” said Ben Stokes at the close of play. “But the pleasing thing for me is that we’ve gone out there and we’ve been brave enough to execute everything that we want to do with bat and ball this week.”
It is impossible for a week to go by without this England side breaking or setting a record, and today’s victory was no different, as it meant Stokes became the joint fastest captain to ten Test wins in history, matching the Australian captain Lindsay Hassett whose record of 10 wins in 12 games has stood for over 70 years (Stokes captained one match in 2020 before winning 10 out of 11 since taking over full-time).
“As much as it is me captaining the side, the team have obviously got to take a lot of credit for that,” Stokes said. “More than myself because I can only go out there and say ‘can we try this’ and then they say yes, but they’ve then got to execute everything.
“I’m very blessed that I’ve got a batting line-up like I do and a bowling attack with Jimmy, Broady and Robbo. I’m very lucky to be able to captain this team at the moment.
“A great example of that was the way that Zak [Crawley] and Ben Duckett went out and played in that very tricky period under the lights to be 72 for two. I think if you compare that to New Zealand in the same situation, they were 37 for three.
“So, not only have I got an unbelievable bowling attack to be able to captain, but I’ve also got a seriously skilled and very brave batting line-up to watch. They’ve got to take a lot of credit for the sort of record I have as a captain.”
Anderson was the star of the morning, claiming four of the final five wickets as he ran through New Zealand’s tail and finished with remarkable figures of four for 18 from 10.3 overs. It was a spell that backed up Stuart Broad’s phenomenal four-wicket showing from the previous night and guided England to their first ever day-night Test victory away from home.
“You’ve always got to look at these day-night games to give yourself the best opportunity to bowl under the lights,” Stokes explained, with England’s aggressive batting on day one setting the match up as they were able to declare after just 59.2 overs. Despite losing the toss, England managed to manufacture a scenario where they had the best of conditions as they were able to bowl to New Zealand in the perfect twilight period on day one and day three.
Stokes continued: “320 in the first innings is sort of a good score anywhere in the world. And although we were nine down and it sort of didn’t make a difference if we declared or not, we were still thinking about doing it if we were six or seven down. When it looked like Jimmy, Robbo and Broady were going to be out there with a bat in hand, it made more sense to let them have a ball in their hand.”
The second and final match of the series starts in five days’ time at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, with Stokes not expecting England to make any changes.
“There will be a few days to see how everyone pulls up,” he added. “If everyone is feeling fresh as a daisy, I can’t see anything changing.”