Eng v NZ, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 5th day May 28, 2013

Swann's ten beats NZ and the rain

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England 354 (Root 104, Bairstow 64, Boult 5-57) and 287 for 5 dec (Cook 130, Trott 76) beat New Zealand 174 (Swann 4-42) and 220 (Swann 6-90) by 247 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Alastair Cook could have been forgiven for scratching his head with confusion when he woke on Tuesday morning. With his team 1-0 up and sure of a series win, he might have expected some plaudits and praise. Instead, despite having come close to a three-day Test win against an opposition that had the better of the Test series in New Zealand only weeks ago, he found his tactics criticised and condemned.

Nothing illustrates how far this England team have come since New Zealand beat them in England in 1999 to sentence them to bottom place in the Test rankings. Success is not just expected from England now, it is demanded, and with style.

In the end, England won by 247 runs in almost exactly 10 sessions to wrap up a 2-0 series victory and largely vindicate their approach. Graeme Swann claimed 10 for 132 to emulate Derek Underwood, the last spinner to take ten wickets in a Test at Headingley back in 1972.

Only 11 overs were possible on the fifth morning in between the forecast rain. When play did start after a 45-minute hiatus, it did not take England long to remove the only remaining specialist batsman. For the fourth time in the series, Stuart Broad dismissed the New Zealand captain, this time clinging on to a sharp caught-and-bowled chance as Brendon McCullum mistimed a drive off the bottom of the bat. The dismissal meant McCullum scored only 31 runs in the series.

But the wicket came at a cost to England as Broad appeared to cut his knee diving for the catch - blood was visible through his trousers - and left the pitch for treatment shortly afterwards.

England might have had Tim Southee on 26, as he edged one from Swann that did not turn, but Jonathan Trott, at slip, could not hold on to the chance in his left hand. To rub salt in the wound, Southee slog-swept the next ball for six.

It was far from the only aggressive stroke he played. Despite a man waiting for the stroke on the midwicket boundary, Southee pulled Steven Finn's first ball for six and drove Broad for a thumping straight four. Doug Bracewell also pulled Finn for a six in an eighth-wicket stand of 56 in only 41 balls.

Swann made the second breakthrough with another delivery that slid on with the arm and again took the edge of Southee's bat. This time Trott clung on to another tricky chance by his left boot. It made Swann the first spinner to claim a five-wicket haul in a Test at Headingley since John Emburey did so in the Ashes of 1985.

But just five more deliveries were possible before the rain - for a while spitting - grew harder and the umpires led the players from the pitch for an early lunch. After a long delay, play resumed at 3pm. Just eight balls later Bracewell was given out to an inside edge but it was overruled using DRS, with replays showing the ball had deflected off the pad, not the bat. But, in Swann's next over, he had the same batsman smartly caught by Ian Bell at silly point off bat and pad. It gave Swann a ten-wicket haul for the third time in Test cricket and his first in England.

Neil Wagner and Trent Boult resisted for another eight scoreless overs but the return of James Anderson brought immediate rewards. With his third delivery, he drew Boult into a push that took the outside edge and carried to Matt Prior. It gave Anderson his 307th Test wicket to take him level with Fred Trueman's tally. Now only Sir Ian Botham and Bob Willis have more than Anderson for England.

The results means England go into the Ashes with four wins in their last eight Tests and unbeaten in that period. But they can take more than victory from this game. The re-emergence of Finn as a bowler of pace and hostility and proof that Swann has rediscovered his best form following elbow surgery means England go into the Ashes with a balanced, settled attack capable of troubling most line-ups on most surfaces.

There are one or two issues with the batting - the survival of Nick Compton at the top of the order will remain a debating point - but, with Kevin Pietersen back in the nets and Joe Root emerging as a fine player, England can feel pretty well prepared for the Ashes.

Their tactics in this match were questionable, however. Had they enforced the follow-on or declared their second innings earlier - even a lunch-time declaration on day four would have given them a vital extra half-hour - they might have secured victory without gambling on a break in the clouds. As it was, they endured a nervous day watching it drizzle and hoping to squeeze in any more play. Ultimately they required about 90 minutes play on the final day, into which they squeezed 22 overs.

Perhaps England betrayed some of their anxiety on the final morning. Andy Flower, the England coach, could be seen having an animated conversation with the groundsman minutes after the rain stopped. It would be unwise to try speculate in too much detail as to Flower's intentions, but it seems safe to assume he was making the point that, if the rain was only to relent for short periods, England needed play to resume as soon as possible. As tends to be the case, Flower got his way despite a counter-argument from his New Zealand counterpart, Mike Hesson.

In different circumstances, criticism might instead have been directed at Yorkshire rather than England. On most Test grounds in the UK, the floodlights could have been utilised for play to continue on the fourth day, but there are no floodlights at Headingley. It is also worth noting that, in a summer where every other Test will be all but a sell-out - even the Lord's Test against New Zealand - this match has been played, at times, in front of vast banks of empty seats. For all the rich history and fine atmosphere, the future of Test cricket in Yorkshire remains precarious.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JG2704 on May 30, 2013, 20:44 GMT

    @ Shan156 - Mate , I genuinely feel we overdo the resting of players - period. I'll end up repeating these views in other threads etc but if you look at our batsmen for instance in the NZ home series - Root was named man of the series. Was it pure coincidence that he has played the most 1st class cricket of all the England batsme this year? I agree that players rest needs to be managed carefully but to me that doesn't mean rest wherever possible which almost seems to be Eng's policy. Stamina and mental toughness isn't built up on rest IMO. I'd also say (guessing) that if our players played every 4 day game (no other formats) they'd play 4 days cricket out of 8 on average. It doesn't seem too much to me. Also KP has gone through his most worrying length of time out through injury after (I guess) having his least busy (playing) periods of his career. Undercooked? Just a thought

  • 5wombats on May 30, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    @maximum6 - ".I like him light and frothy". LOL I've seen Bell described as a lot of things - but never like a cup of coffee!.... What is that? - a Belluchino? :-) :-)

  • 2.14istherunrate on May 29, 2013, 22:28 GMT

    For me, upon reflection,a day and a bit after the end of the match the great thing was that Swann took 10 for and is obviously okay. In the series the best thing has been that all 4 main bowlers have had a telling effect at some stage or rather. Since it has been the attack that has been the stellar part of the last few years this is good news. This is not to say that the batting has not been good at times but it has not always worked and one or two players just have not fired. I would not want to harp back to Bell but really since his 235 v India he just has not been there.he needs to go back to being him and not an imitation of him. As a player he has plenty of shots and should just remain that even if at times he lacks seriousness.I like him light and frothy. Otherwise moving forward,please ditch the conservatism.! The side has the talent so please play expansively and joyously!

  • Shan156 on May 29, 2013, 20:36 GMT

    @JG2704, I understand what you mean. I am in agreement with the sentiment that Eng. should not be so conservative. But, we don't know what the bowlers were going through. Perhaps, one or more of the bowlers were carrying a niggle and wanted more rest? True it does not bode well for harder days ahead but that is the problem with too much cricket these days. Player workload has to be managed carefully. Following this series, we play the ODI series and the CT before the Ashes. These bowlers will most likely feature in those games as well. Of course, I didn't mean that a conservative approach will help us retain the Ashes but I am sure good workload management would. If we play our best XI, I am confident that we will retain the Ashes comfortably. Perhaps, with that and the tougher days ahead in mind, Eng. could have played 1 or 2 backup bowlers in this game.

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2013, 18:52 GMT

    @ Shan156 ctd - I don't think we can say that this will help more lead us to win the Ashes. If we win it's because we're the better side but I will say I think we need to be the better playing side because if the sides were evenly matched I know exactly who I'd prefer as captain. Re the batsman getting more practice. Sorry bud , but it's 1 inns and no doubt Eng's management will cite this but then contradict themselves by not allowing them to play county games. Re giving the bowlers more rest. They bowled them out in about a session. If they need rest after that then it does not bode well for harder days in the field to come. I've already given 2 recent examples where teams did not enforce the follow on and came unstuck. I always say , do what the opposition is least comfortable with and any NZ fan ,player would have been happy with Cook's decision here , just like I was when BM declared. The difference here is that Eng had more luck than NZ had .

  • sonicattack on May 29, 2013, 14:21 GMT

    @jmcilhinney - yes, you make some good points about 'ruthlessness' - I'm probably too much of a pessimist! Like you, I thought that it Cook nipping off the field when he did could only have been to consult with Andy Flower. Coaches have a much greater say these days, don't they? I also noticed David Saker having a quite animated chat with, I think, Steven Finn, from the boundary.

  • jmcilhinney on May 29, 2013, 13:22 GMT

    @sonicattack on (May 29, 2013, 10:47 GMT), certainly Cook follows a long line of conservative captains but that doesn't mean that he can't assert himself if he wants to and I am one of many who hoped that he would. One thing that bothered me greatly was the impression I got that Cook was simply dancing to Andy Flower's tune. Obviously Flower is going to have a significant input but when Cook nipped off the field just before NZ were bowled out the first time it felt like he was asking Flower what to do. I could be wrong about that but I can't think of another obvious reason for him to leave the field just then. England's policy is theirs to make but it seems to me that whether to enforce the follow-on should be the captain's decision and Cook should have already had all the information he needed to make it.

  • jmcilhinney on May 29, 2013, 13:14 GMT

    @sonicattack on (May 29, 2013, 10:47 GMT), certainly noone would mistake this England team for those WI and Australian sides of the past but they themselves have said that they want to get more ruthless. If you aren't going to get ruthless playing at home against the #8 side having bowled them out 207, 174 and 68 in the last three innings, when exactly are you going to? One of the reasons quoted for not enforcing the follow-on was that England thought it might be tricky batting last on that pitch, yet apparently they still felt that NZ might be a chance of scoring 400+. How can they say that they have faith in either their batsmen or their bowlers in that case? With no weather about, England's tactics would have been no big deal, although still unnecessarily cautious. With the threat of rain and a possible washout on day 5, they were, in my opinion, quite irresponsible. I still think that England played very well and deserved the win but were tactically poor.

  • 5wombats on May 29, 2013, 13:03 GMT

    JG2704. You're right it's funny how the "we won, so what" lobby get the featured comms! But I don't mind about that. What I mind about is being ok with a negative approach. Play cricket at any level in Australia - you don't get negativity. You get ambition and aggression that brings power and energy to force the game forwards. Anyone who doesn't play like that just gets trampled. This is why Australia are so fearsome and why nobody sensible would ever write them off. Does anyone here seriously think that any Australian team would have risked the possibility of not winning in the way that England did here? Of course not. They would have backed themselves like they always do. I don't remember Mark Taylor or especially Steve Waugh ever taking a backwards step and that's why that was a great Australia team, it wasn't just the fine players - it was the absolute will to dominate and force the game from any position. That's why this current England team is not great - it displays negativity.

  • dummy4fb on May 29, 2013, 12:34 GMT

    @ sonicattack... I like your final comment regarding the ex-captain commentators... and isn't it ironic that one of the biggest critics also happens to have been one of the least successful captains of them all.