New Zealand romp to series victory as Tom Latham seals 38-run chase
Trent Boult ends England innings with first ball of morning to set up 1-0 win
New Zealand 388 (Young 82, Conway 80, Taylor 80, Broad 4-48) and 41 for 2 (Latham 23*) beat England 303 (Lawrence 81*, Burns 81, Boult 4-85) and 122 (Wood 29, Wagner 3-18, Henry 3-36) by eight wickets
The first ball said it all, really. Trent Boult sent it down with a scrambled seam, it found the edge and Tom Blundell's waiting gloves leaving Olly Stone, England's last man out, visibly exhaling in deflated resignation to his side's fate. And the Edgbaston clock hadn't even ticked over to 11am on the fourth day yet.
The man at the other end, James Anderson, was into the changing room and straight back out again, producing a maiden first up. He wasn't going down without a fight, even with a target of 38 to defend.
Nor was his old mate, Stuart Broad, who struck with the last ball of the following over when he removed Devon Conway, the man who had racked up 306 runs at 76.50 this series in the only two Tests of his career. Broad enticed Conway to nibble at one that pitched outside off and found an edge which James Bracey took behind the stumps.
With the visitors only needing 32 more for victory, it was all a bit of a moot point but England could rely on their two elder statesmen, who had bowled so well against stiff opposition in this match and who are consummate professionals, to keep competing to the last.
And they did, doing their best to make scoring slow-going for New Zealand but the tourists had all the time in the world, a tiny target and wickets in hand - everything - on their side.
It was England's batters who had let them down, the second-innings capitulation for 122 could have been worse. They were 76 for 7 before an eighth-wicket stand worth 44 between Stone and Wood (who top-scored with 29).
Stone came into the attack in the 10th over of the morning and struck with his sixth ball. Having had a wider delivery punished to the fence by Will Young two balls prior, he had Young out chopping onto his stumps with just five runs needed.
Stand-in captain Tom Latham sealed the result in the next over with a four clubbed through square leg off Wood followed by another two balls later, guided through third man. It was New Zealand's first Test series win in England since 1999, moving them back to the top of the ICC rankings as a consequence, and consigned England to their first home Test series defeat since 2014. England's batters from No. 3 to No. 7 scored just 59 runs between them in the second innings while in the first Dan Lawrence - with an unbeaten 81 - scored more than three times as many runs as the other four middle-order batters combined.
The difference was that openers Rory Burns and Dom Sibley were dismissed for single figures in the second innings - Burns, England's leading run-scorer for the series with 238 at 59.50, fell for a duck - exposing England's middle-order frailties before tea on the third afternoon.
England's fielding had been ragged too, with at least three missed opportunities on the third day on top of Zak Crawley's low chance that didn't go their way on the second, a moment that sparked more controversy over the on-field umpires' soft-signal option.
It all left England needing with huge selection concerns ahead of the August Test series against India, even allowing for the return of such shoo-ins as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler in that middle-order. It also left New Zealand with selection headaches of a different kind.
Matt Henry's devastating opening spell to remove England's top three either side of tea on the third day cracked this game wide open and gave him six wickets for the match for Player of the Match honours. But Henry was among six changes made to the side who drew the first Test at Lord's. Along with Neil Wagner, who took seven wickets across the two matches this series including 3 for 18 in England's second innings at Edgbaston, he is among a host of New Zealand seamers jostling for a place in next week's WTC final against India. Of the top three contenders, Trent Boult took six wickets for the match at Edgbaston upon his return from post-IPL quarantine while Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson were rested. Will Young, who came into the side while Kane Williamson nursed a sore elbow, acquitted himself well with a top-score of 82 but may have to bide his time, especially given Ross Taylor's doughty 80 in the same innings. One thing looks assured though, given New Zealand's bench strength and dominance in this series, they should pose formidable opposition for a long time to come.
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo