England won by 170 runs
SHIT! Did you see that?
As New Zealand’s batting order was resembling a pack of cards in a hurricane on Sunday afternoon, it was becoming increasingly difficult to understand how England had made it look so competent over the winter. This side has now been bowled out for less than 70 twice in six Tests and tends to react to pressure in the same way a wooden shack reacts to being hit by a nuclear bomb. As impressive as this win ultimately was, it didn’t exactly enhance the credentials of the three draws which preceded it.
England are a strange team nowadays; they aren’t very good for quite long periods (since reaching number one in the world, their overall record reads P18, W6, D5, L7) yet have tended to belatedly step up to the plate (Colombo, Lord’s against South Africa when they got close-ish to sneaking home, Mumbai and Kolkata) and so was the case again here. After three days in which they were little better than alright and which New Zealand probably controlled, they promptly turned up an hour into day four and absolutely steamrollered the tourists with minimal fuss.
Stuart Broad is the absolute epitome of this England; he has everyone incandescent with barely concealed rage for the vast majority of time, then every now and again puts in performances so hot you could toast marshmallows on them. As a general rule, this attack is over-reliant on Jimmy Anderson, but even he had to play second fiddle today as Broad kept swatting Kiwi batsmen back from whence they came. Expect to hear lots of chatter along the lines of ‘if he could be consistent’ when it comes to young Stupot this summer. It ain’t gonna happen: inconsistency, like being a stroppy diva and appealing like a dick, is his thing. Take it or leave it.
New Zealand’s problem seems to be their inability to avoid completely ballsing up one day of a Test. They have good players; they have talented batsmen, a decent attack and a pretty good captain; they’re good in the field. But they keep losing. They keep losing because of that one day of doom. This time, it was day four and it was spectacular, but it was the same old story. The margin of defeat shouldn’t mask a reasonably good performance but to be too positive verges on patronising. There is clearly a mental frailty about their batting which is going to prevent them from becoming the side their potential suggests they can be; until that is sorted out this sort of result will remain the norm rather than the exception.