So England won the test series 2-0 … go by that alone and you’ve missed a lot. New Zealand dominated 2 of the 3 previous test, albeit ones in the previous series, and in their country. But it is important to note that because without it, England may not have been so determined to correct the “wrong” that was their perceived failure to win in New Zealand. The fact was that, NZ out-played England for most of that series, merit-wise, they should have won by 2 tests to 1.
Anyhow, that’s the background, England were better this time, but not by as much as one may expect. The first test was very close until Stuart Broad’s mega burst where he took 5 wickets for minus 12 runs in two balls. Or something – that spell won England the first test.
In the 2nd test, England were in front for most of the game. The main point of peril was when Joe Root came to the crease at 67-3 … but then he made his first test ton and England were on top for the rest of the game and were not (quite) denied by the weather. Well played. Now let us look at who did what…
Joe Root top scored in the first test, add that to his ton in the 2nd test, and it’s no surprise to see him in first place. In his first 3 innings, Cook did very little other than start, but his rapid (by any standard) innings of 130 late on was excellent. Trott mate useful runs and annoyed us with a lack of positive intent, but deserves his 3rd spot. Bairstow’s runs are worthy of note because of the aggressive and exciting way he played. He should be fine to step in to cover for KP’s (or anyone else’s) absence. Bell had a nightmare, but don’t count his 4th innings dismissal aiming for quick runs … the other 3 failures though, are of more than slight concern – he needs to get some confidence from somewhere – the Champions Trophy would be fine! Prior’s form is of less concern because he played so well in NZ, and was built up so much before that series that failure was all but guaranteed … cricket likes to bite back from time to time. But, as you can tell, the only New Zealander to score more than 100 runs was maturing Ross Taylor, this says as much about their batting as it does England’s bowling. But underestimate them at your peril, in the next 12-24 months they will surprise a few teams.
Tim Southee bowled with the guile, swing, and control worthy of someone with far more experience, and most of his wickets were earned. Even though Bracewell wasn’t at his best, NZ have the makings of a proper pace attack, one able to take advantage of anyone’s mistakes, and in good conditions, win games. Kane Williamson looked much better, with the pressure off, as a 2nd spinner, than he did as their first choice, so NZ still have options there. England’s bowlers, however, all performed. Finn was the worst, taking 8 wickets at 20! Broad was excellent throughout and Swann was superb in the 2nd game. All of this bodes well for the Ashes … each bowler will have gained confidence from this series. The fact that all of England’s 4 bowlers played both games, injury free – unlike the impressive Boult, meant that New Zealand received no let-up at all, and the quality, pace, bounce, and turn of Swann, made the difference.
BRING ON THE AUSSIES!