Mark Wood bowled the fifth ball of the eleventh over of the second innings of New Zealand and the stand-in-captain Tom Latham dispatched the short of a length delivery towards the third man by opening the full face of the bat for a boundary and earn the Test and series-winning runs. That one hit not only ensured the series victory in England for the Kiwis since 1999 but elevated them to the number 1 rank in the ICC Test ranking and they are the number 1 side in the ODI as well.

Indeed, the Kiwis deserve to be at the top because, in the last five or six years, they have been one of the exciting units in world cricket – neither they needed a Twenty20 league for fake improvements nor did they always need the backup of the so-called powerful board to fare well in world cricket.

New Zealand play cricket with a lot of passion and hard work and how lethal the combination of both could be, the world cricket has realized – you don’t need to abusive fans, power cricket boards or misbehaved cricketers around to move at the top.

The Kiwis were without the services of Kane Williamson, Tim Southee and BJ Watling at Edgbaston, where 70% of spectators were allowed to enjoy cricket and sunshine after a long time. The buzz was amazing and the fans added so many colours to the Test match, New Zealand enjoyed each and every bit of it.

Will Young, a top-order batter from Central Districts who has had to bide his time for an opportunity in international cricket, came into this series on the back of two hundreds in three innings for Durham in the County Championship, having signed an early-season deal to help him acclimatise to English conditions. After missing out on selection at Lord’s despite those runs, he came into the side this week with Kane Williamson resting his sore left elbow.

His first-class average of 42.68 compares favourably with that of a generation of England batters; of the side, they fielded this week, only Joe Root and Ollie Pope’s are significantly higher.

Matt Henry is in much the same boat as Young. He took the new ball following the decision to rest Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson ahead of the main event next week and pipped Young and Trent Boult to the match award thanks to three wickets in each innings – five of them top-order (if not top-quality) batters. He is, in many ways, an English-style seamer, with no great pace but immaculate control of the line in particular.

Then, there was Devon Conway, who enjoyed a fantastic Test series, courtesy of mixing caution with aggression and claimed the vote to partner Latham at the top.

“[Henry] was fantastic,” said Latham.

“We’ve got a bigger group [with us] and through a mixture of injuries and guys being rested for next week, those guys that came in certainly took their opportunity. Matt has been with the group for a long period and probably hasn’t got the game time he would have wanted. For him to come in and put a performance on the board, that was really important, especially the work that he did yesterday with that new ball.”

“It was amazing from a personnel change of six guys. That hasn’t happened for a long time in this group and it has been a hard team to crack into. For all those guys to get that opportunity, Young, Henry, [Ajaz] Patel, was fantastic. They performed their roles really well.”

“It was a complete team performance. Different guys stood up at different times. At lot of these guys have been around the group for a while and probably haven’t played as much as they would have liked, but I think those experiences around the group in different conditions have held them in good stead.”

Since their last series win in England back in 1999, New Zealand’s away record against the top teams in the world has been abysmal: two wins in 50 matches in Australia, England, India and South Africa ahead of this tour.

Neither injuries nor the absence of a player for other reason doesn’t seem to trouble New Zealand because of the bench strength they have and such players is developed in the longer-version of domestic cricket – especially, County Cricket.

Sixteen of the 20 wickets they took were shared between Boult, Henry and Ajaz Patel, none of whom played last week and hinted, England lacked the depth and variety in the attack due to the absence of a quality spinner.

It was England’s batsmen who had let them down, the second-innings capitulation for 122 could have been worse. They were 76 for 7 before an eighth-wicket stand worth 44 between Ollie Stone and Mark Wood.

England’s batters from No. 3 to No. 7 scored just 59 runs between them in the second innings while in the first Dan Lawrence – with an unbeaten 81 – scored more than three times as many runs as the other four middle-order batters combined.

The difference was that openers Rory Burns and Dom Sibley were dismissed for single figures in the second innings – Burns, England’s leading run-scorer for the series with 238 at 59.50, fell for a duck – exposing England’s middle-order frailties before tea on the third afternoon.

England’s fielding had been sloppy too, with at least three missed opportunities on the third day on top of Zak Crawley’s low chance that didn’t go their way on the second, a moment that sparked more controversy over the on-field umpires’ soft-signal option.

Matt Henry’s devastating opening spell to remove England’s top three on either side of tea on the third day cracked this game wide open and gave him six wickets for the match for Player of the Match honours.

But Henry was among six changes made to the side who drew the first Test at Lord’s. Along with Neil Wagner, who took seven wickets across the two matches this series including 3 for 18 in England’s second innings at Edgbaston.

Will Young, who came into the side while Kane Williamson nursed a sore elbow, acquitted himself well with a top-score of 82 but may have to bide his time, especially given Ross Taylor’s doughty 80 in the same innings.

“It’s been a frustrating and disappointing performance this week,” Root said.

“I don’t think we’ve given a fair account of ourselves. We’ve been outplayed in all three departments, particularly the batting.”

“We didn’t get the runs [we should have done] in the first innings. We missed chances in the field and didn’t help our bowlers in that respect. And with the bat [in the second innings] we were poor.”

“Sometimes in Test cricket, you can have a poor session with the ball and you’re still very much in the game. But a session that like can cost you a Test. That’s where we find ourselves. It cost us the series and we have some hard lessons to learn.”

“We have to look at where we can get better individually and collectively. We need to be honest about that. We have to have some hard conversations and move forward.”

“We have to front up, look to get better and learn some hard lessons sometimes,” he said. “We’ve all underperformed this week.

“But we have to be constructive. I think every single one of those guys has proven they can score big Test runs. I think it would be the wrong time to start panicking and trying to rip up all the hard work we’ve done for such a long period of time. It’s something that historically we’ve done going into big tournaments and big Test series and it made things even worse.”

“There’s a huge desire to keep getting better as a team. We know there’s talent and ability in the group. Sometimes you really learn about a group of players, going through a difficult period like this. We have had a poor week, a poor series, and have got to front up to that. But it doesn’t make them bad players.”

“There’s been a lot of talk about technique and batting. My view is batting is very much an individual thing. There’s no right or wrong way of doing it. Look at the best players in the world: they all have different methods of how they play. How they stand, their bat paths, where they score their runs.”

“For me, it’s more of a mental thing. It’s about clarity in their own game and managing passages of play. Managing different bowlers, different angles and conditions and doing that consistently well over an innings and a series. We can be a little bit smarter on occasions. It’s somewhere that throughout my career I’ve got that horribly wrong on occasions.”

“As the leading run-scorer within our squad currently I feel like I’ve put a lot of pressure on those guys by not performing myself. As a captain, you pride yourself on getting big runs and leading from the front and I’ve not managed to follow through on that. So I’ve probably compounded that situation slightly.”


“As we have spoken about so many times, we find ourselves in these Covid times and things aren’t perfect. They are not ideal. Yes, the whole thing is frustrating from time to time. You want your best players available for every Test. At the minute that’s not quite a possibility. That’s part and parcel of the world we live in right now. The sooner it can get back to normal the better for a number of reasons.”

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