England v New Zealand – Can England’s Cricketers Win The Final Test?

After a woeful performance in their first Test against New Zealand, England desperately need to beat the Black Caps before returning home. Can they do enough to save face in the final Test match of their winter tour or will they be embarrassed again?
England’s First Test Against New Zealand – What Went Wrong?

The English squad’s recent away record has been far from impressive, but they must have been feeling fairly positive going into their first Test against New Zealand last week. Although they’d only managed draws in both of their Test series warm-up outings, they’d defeated the Kiwis by three matches to two to claim the ODI series’ cricket trophy earlier this month. However, any glimmer of hope that victory may have provided was soon forgotten when the tourists suffered a humiliating batting collapse.

It took the Black Caps just 94 minutes to dismiss the visitors for 58 on the opening day of the day-night Test at Auckland’s Eden Park. The total was the sixth lowest the English have ever scored. In the aftermath, some suggested that the batsmen may have struggled to see the pink ball, but it wasn’t an excuse that many seemed to buy.

Reporters also asked the team’s head coach whether changes to the line-up due to the absence of Ben Stokes had contributed to the collapse. Stokes, who had only recently returned to the side after nearly six months absence following a legal issue, was forced to miss out on the first day’s play due to a back injury.

“I don’t think so,” Trevor Bayliss told the Independent. “I think we’ve got the best team we can pick from England here.” He also stated that that he didn’t believe that they had played too few warm-up matches either, saying he couldn’t explain why their batting had been so dreadful.

Due to poor weather, only 23 overs were bowled on day two and 17 balls on day three, giving the visitors the chance to get back into contention. However, they failed to capitalise on the opportunity. New Zealand were ahead by 237 runs by the end of the fourth day and eventually clinched the win by an innings and 49 runs.

The Second Test – How Will the Visitors Prepare?

Thankfully for Joe Root, the team captain, and his men – although not for cricket’s reputation – most sports journalists had turned their attention towards the Australian team before the Test had ended. With the Aussie captain, Steve Smith, and player Cameron Bancroft having confessed to being involved in a ball-tampering planduring a Test match in South Africa, mere performance issues were no longer headline-dominating news.

Hopefully, the English squad will be able to use the fact that they aren’t under such scrutiny by the sporting press to their advantage and come up with a more successful plan to deal with the Black Caps when they face them on Thursday. Speaking to the Guardian, Joe Root said that “there must be some soul searching in time for the game”, which will take place at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch. They’ll certainly need to play far better than they have been recently if they want to avoid another series defeat.

Do you think England can beat New Zealand? What changes do you think they should make to the way they play? Let us know on Twitter, on Facebook or in the comments section.