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The Report by George Dobell
May 28, 2013
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 ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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