England After practicing the continuation with New Zealand, they became the fourth team to lose in Test history. Neil Wagner fire the last man James Anderson For an unforgettable one-off win at Wellington.
It was England who stumbled across the line as Anderson slapped Wagner on the leg and left England 256 to chase 258 in a match that was sure to go down as one of the most gripping competitions ever seen in the grand old format.
It was a surprising outcome of the proceedings and saw Ben Stokes’ men attend the Australian classes of 1894, 1981 and 2001 as the only side to be defeated after sending the opponent straight back to the bat.
Stokes made this decision after taking the lead in a 226-point first inning, but lost control of the game as the Black Caps hit with brilliant determination to push things deeper into day five.
England seemed to have won the game several times, then Joe Root (95) led a 121-year partnership with Stokes and led the chase to seven success rounds when Ben Foakes measured 33. However New Zeland refused to reach out, mercilessly scrapping the game to its frustrating conclusion.
Wagner was a hero with 62-for-fours, pushing both Stokes and Root out of four-ball range, then showing his nerves of steel to outshine Anderson when one wrong decision could cost him everything. As Surrey gauntlet rose above the drama, he was also on hand for Foakes with a tough catch.
This was England’s second loss in 12 games led by Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, and like pretty much everything they’ve done since taking the reins, it came as staggering.
The seeds for England’s defeat were sown by senior executives who contributed to some unruly and loose layoffs, but they were nearly saved by Foakes and Leach.
Together they needed 43 and put the ball firmly in New Zealand’s court, but Foakes was exceptional at covering the shot and smashing the target.
Leach was happy to reprise the role he made famous at Headingley at the 2019 Ashes when one of the 17 balls allowed Stokes to get a fantastic win.
Foakes handled things more consistently as he single-numbered required runs, and when he made a mistake, it was a huge shock when he dragged Southee onto his slender leg.
When Anderson broke the flamboyantly thick atmosphere of a border and won one draw and two, everyone on the court knew the result was just a ball away.
That ball fell out of New Zealand’s favour, and Anderson was barely able to get himself out of the crease. He didn’t even call the DRS, acknowledging his own and England’s fate, as the Black Caps enthusiastically celebrated.
With 71 minutes and 31 deliveries for someone who wasn’t out, Leach finally looked into the distance, now in the midst of one of England’s most captivating wins and one of their most grueling defeats.
There will definitely be a debate over the wisdom of the continue decision, especially given Stokes’ knee problem and his inability to offer more than two overs in the match. The rest of England’s bowlers have been absolutely devastated by New Zealand’s stubborn second-strike resistance, but they will still regret not finishing the game on day five.
Questions may also be raised about referee Chris Gaffaney, who chose not to call Wagner broadly because he dragged Anderson down a leg by the leg just before sacking him.
At any other point in the game, a margin call like this won’t get a moment’s attention, but at a point where the extra run will even the scores, it might not be so easily forgotten.
England would think that everything could have been simpler, if not less exciting, had it not been for a sloppy first hour that cost 27 to four goals.
Night watchman Ollie Robinson took just three overs, opener Ben Duckett’s feet shone to glide on concrete, and Ollie Pope was totally unconvincing for his 14.
Tempted by Root to a crazy single, left to die on the non-forward side. With four centuries in his last five Tests, including 186 in previous hits, his unwitting sacrifice was a body blow.
Root went a long way toward rectifying the situation before falling directly into Wagner’s short ball game, following Stokes’ lead. This set to a blockbuster ending as England prevailed at the decisive moment.