New Zealand vs England: Day five of second Test in a nutshell
Last Updated: 03/12/19 6:50am
Denly drops a dolly to cut Archer celebration short, Williamson makes the most of his good fortune and New Zealand make it six home series wins on the spin. Here is what you need to know from day five in Hamilton...
Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor made centuries on a rain-hit final day of the second Test to frustrate England and secure a series win for New Zealand, writes Sam Drury.
England had hoped to force a fifth-day victory to level the series but their chances of doing so had vanished long before the rain arrived to wash out much of the last two sessions as Williamson and Taylor shared an unbroken 213-run stand for the third wicket.
Williamson (104no) had some fortune along the way as he was dropped on 39 by England stand-in wicketkeeper Ollie Pope on 39 and again on 62 by Joe Denly off Jofra Archer, who was already celebrating before Denly shelled the most straightforward of chances.
No sooner had Taylor (105no) reached his hundred with back-to-back sixes off Joe Root, the heavens opened and with no prospect of a resumption two hours later, the match was eventually confirmed as a draw.
Moment of the Day
Two Test hundreds were scored, one of them brought up with successive sixes but neither of them came close. Sorry Joe, but the undisputed moment of the day came midway through the morning session when Williamson chipped a knuckle-ball from Archer to midwicket.
As the ball looped gently towards Denly, Archer was running away, arms outstretched in celebration. In what had been a tough first tour for him, he finally had a moment to savour, the big scalp of the New Zealand captain thanks to a clever piece of bowling. Or so he thought.
When Archer looked around, Denly was on his haunches and the ball was by his feet. The England batsman had somehow managed to grass a catch as simple as they come, certainly in international cricket. There was disbelief around the ground, not least among the England fielders, many of whom had their hands on their heads, Stuart Broad had his hands over his mouth in trademark fashion while Archer, to his credit, managed a wry smile.
The incident certainly took the heat off Pope behind the stumps, who had dropped Williamson earlier in the session when the world No 3 ranked Test batsman was on just 39. It had appeared a regulation chance at the time but suddenly it seemed that much trickier.
Stat of the Day
40 - @BLACKCAPS duo Kane Williamson (21) and Ross Taylor (19) have a combined 40 Test centuries between them; however, this is the first time in their careers that they've both scored a century in the same Test innings in New Zealand. Intertwined.#NZvENG pic.twitter.com/Hiw5Y0mv7B— OptaJason (@OptaJason) December 3, 2019
Billed as the start of a new era for England in Test cricket, has this series really taught them anything new?
It is important to stress that New Zealand are a top class side and are ranked No 2 in the world for good reason so a narrow defeat is no disgrace. However, in the first Test in particular, it was the same old problems holding England back. Not enough runs on the board in the first innings and a bowling attack lacking the ingredients to take 20 wickets on a flat surface with the Kookaburra ball.
One positive is that it may help lower the unrealistically high expectations on Archer, a prodigiously talented fast bowler but one who had played just four Tests ahead of this series. The returns of Jimmy Anderson and Mark Wood, provided they are fit, for the tour of South Africa should not only add more potency to the England attack but also help ease the burden on Archer.
On the batting front, Pope's maiden Test fifty is likely to confirm his place in the squad for South Africa and he seems well placed to keep his spot in the XI, even with Jonny Bairstow likely to be back in the mix, but Dom Sibley was unable to take his chance at the top of the order and it remains to be seen whether he will be given another go this winter.
"One issue they wanted a bit more clarity on was [Rory] Burns' opening partner and they haven't had a chance really to see whether Sibley will cut the mustard or not," said Mark Butcher.
"No one else made 1,000 runs in county cricket as a batsman, let alone an opener, so he has proved he can churn out runs. The only thing you can go on for selection for the South Africa tour is that record."
Tweets of the Day
What they said
Player of the match, England captain Joe Root: "I felt pretty good from the start of my innings. There was a tricky period at the start but I then felt fluent the following day and was able to take that forward. I tried to get a bit of rhythm back into my game, working on a few technical things like position at the crease.
"I have felt it has been close for a while now and thankfully I spent some time out in the middle and got us in a position where we could have tried to force a result but it wasn't to be."
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson: "It was a great fighting effort as we know how strong the England side is. To lose both tosses but show that fight that we demand of ourselves as a unit was really pleasing over both matches. The first match was a fantastic victory on so many different departments and to come here and back it up was really pleasing."
James Franklin on Williamson and Taylor: "Those two really absorbed the pressure after last night's session when New Zealand were in a slightly vulnerable position at 28-2. They then kicked on today and got those hundreds, which bodes well, not only for now but for what's coming up in Australia over the next few weeks."