New Zealand 350 and 454 - 8 declared
England 350 and 255 (NZ won by 199 runs)
New Zealand levelled the two-Test series at Headingley yesterday, storming to an emphatic 199-run victory over England. All chances of an unlikely record run chase were soon ended, as England lost early wickets in the morning on day five. Instead, the inevitable defeat duly arrived as the tourists' bowlers were simply too good for England's batsmen.
Some of the England players had perhaps unwisely talked up their chances of chasing down the runs, despite the rain that abruptly ended day four and history suggesting otherwise. Joe Root was particularly ebullient, suggesting that they had "every intention of winning the game," although he did add that "the first hour will be important" in terms of their hopes. How prophetic his words proved to be.
Early wickets decisive
Resuming on 44-0, Adam Lyth was soon back in the pavilion, as Trent Boult enticed an edge behind to Luke Ronchi for 24. Things soon got worse, as they slumped dramatically to 62-4. Gary Ballance (6) was bowled by Boult to begin the rapid decline, closely followed by Ian Bell's lame offering of a catch to Kane Williamson and Joe Root's two ball duck. Bell and Root both fell to Mark Craig's spin, Root being particularly unfortunate to find his solid shot pouched by Tom Latham.
Ben Stokes (29) played a restrained innings for once, but became Williamson's first wicket to leave England in deep trouble at 102-5. Alastair Cook had seemed unperturbed at the other end but he too fell under Williamson's spell, being trapped LBW for 56.
Moeen's poor match
The experiment of playing Moeen Ali at number eight failed to bear fruit yet again. He had scored just 2 runs before Matt Henry clean bowled him. With just one wicket in the match and three runs off his bat, he may not be the spinning all-rounder solution after all. The Aussies will no doubt target his bowling should he start against them.
England's tail did at least extend the game to push the final total beyond 250, with Jos Buttler showing controlled aggression in his knock of 73. Stuart Broad backed up his first innings' heroics with a satisfactory 23, but it was only a matter of time before New Zealand's victory was confirmed. Williamson and Craig shared the bowling plaudits, with 3 wickets apiece, but Boult's early breakthroughs were just as important in the final analysis.
After a frenetic and highly enjoyable (if truncated) series, #Cricket fans were simply left a little disappointed that there will be no decider. Headingley provided a fitting climax to the match, with a pitch that ensured yet another enthralling battle between two closely-matched sides. It offered a bit of everything for the players: the bowlers were able to extract swing and some turn by the end; the batsmen were able to play their shots once they had earned the right to do so. All the classic elements to ensure a result over five days or, as the Leeds' weather dictated, slightly less due to the rain delays earlier in the match.England demonstrated that they are still a work in progress and were perhaps slightly fortunate that the Kiwis were a little rusty in terms of their match preparations at Lord's. The home side have now suffered two frustrating drawn series against West Indies and New Zealand. Not entirely disastrous, with several new faces having been integrated into the side, but Australia will hardly be quivering in their boots ahead of the Ashes.