New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum cast his mind back nine days to where the real damage was done in this test cricket series.
England completed the last rites in less than 90 minutes of playing time at Headingley today, winning the second test by 247 runs in between spells of misty drizzle.
Even the weather couldn’t save the battered tourists. It sealed a dominant 2-0 series victory and reaffirmed the gap between the second and eighth-ranked sides which seemed to have narrowed during the drawn home series.
After the clouds parted enough for play to get under way 45 minutes late, and McCullum was dismissed for one in the third over, it was only a matter of time.
New Zealand were eventually dismissed for 220 in the gloom, just after 3.35pm local time.
McCullum agreed the turning point of the series was the previous Sunday at Lord’s where the team were upbeat and confident about chasing 239 in the first test, and folded for 68 in a brutal two-hour period on day four. Mentally they were shot.
“Until that point our self-belief was very high and that ripped our hearts out and just started to create some self-doubt among us which is a horrible thing in this game,” McCullum said.
“That’s what unfolded in this test. We still had periods where we dominated but they didn’t last long enough and the periods of England dominating seemed to last a lot longer.”
The batsmen looked largely bereft, and their tormentors came from different angles. The swing of James Anderson and Stuart Broad wasn’t a factor, instead Graeme Swann’s spin and Steven Finn’s pace and bounce did the trick.
Particularly Swann, who used the footmarks created by New Zealand left-armers Trent Boult and Neil Wagner to take 6-90 in the second innings and 10-132 in the match.
New Zealand started the day on 158-6, after a 45-minute delay, with fingers crossed for rain or some staunch resistance from McCullum. There was little of either.
McCullum completed a forgettable series, from the highs of New Zealand in March, when Broad scooped up a brilliant caught and bowled from a low full toss.
It added up to a paltry 31 runs from four innings for McCullum, whose lack of buildup in England told. And it confirmed him as Broad’s bunny as the tall right-armer claimed the skipper’s wicket in all four innings.
As only he knows, Tim Southee attacked instead of playing a dead bat. He hooked Finn over the man on the square leg boundary, then lifted Swann over the man at cow corner.
Southee and Doug Bracewell, who looked technically sound, added 56 off 41 balls for the eighth wicket. But it couldn’t last and when Southee played a straight bat to Swann he nicked out for 38.
Another rain break which forced an early lunch looked to have saved New Zealand, with the cloud and mist circling.
But England and the umpires were keen to return and the end was nigh. Bracewell was snared bat-pad to give Swann his sixth then Wagner and Boult played out 48 scoreless deliveries until Anderson struck with his third ball.
New Zealand’s next test isn’t until Bangladesh in October, before West Indies and India tour either side of Christmas.
Ross Taylor was the only member of the top-five to top 100 runs in four innings in England, so the microscope will go on the batting but McCullum gave the impression technical changes, rather than personnel changes, was the key.
“It’s early days but I think it’s probably status quo. If you fast forward 18 months we’ve got the makings of a very good cricket team. I’m a big fan of protecting the people who have performed for a period of time and that’s what we’ve seen from this group of players. We’ve got the right mix and the right balance in this group and we need to keep improving as a team and smooth out some of our rough edges.”
That means struggling duo Peter Fulton (37 runs at 9.25) and Dean Brownlie (55 runs at 13.75) are safe for now, with the main challenger Martin Guptill still not putting a compelling case in test cricket.
- Fairfax Media
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