|England 435-8 dec (Brook 186, Root 153*; Henry 4-100) & 256 (Root 95, Wagner 4-62)|
|New Zealand 209 (Southee 73) & 483 (Williamson 132, Leach 5-157)|
|New Zealand win by 1 run|
England lost to New Zealand by one run in one of the all-time great finishes to the second Test in Wellington.
On a barely believable final day at the Basin Reserve, last man James Anderson was caught down the leg side off Neil Wagner when England needed two to win.
Anderson had joined number 10 Jack Leach with seven required, after Leach added 36 for the ninth wicket with Ben Foakes, who was caught at fine leg for 35.
Anderson fended off a vicious bouncer from Wagner, then sensationally clubbed the next ball for four.
Leach saw off an over from Tim Southee, leaving the stage set for Anderson, but Wagner’s fourth wicket left England 257 all out and drew a deafening roar from the Basin Reserve crowd.
Needing 258 to win the match and series, England calamitously slipped to 80-5, then after a stand of 121 between Joe Root and Ben Stokes, experienced another collapse of 3-14.
Foakes, Leach and Anderson almost got them over the line, but ultimately England lost a Test after enforcing the follow-on for the first time, the fourth such defeat in Test history.
It ends a run of six straight victories and denies them a seventh straight win, a feat last achieved by England in 2004.
For New Zealand, their first win after following-on earns a 1-1 draw in the series and protects an unbeaten home run that stretches back to 2017.
England’s next Test is against Ireland at Lord’s on 1 June before their bid to regain the Ashes begins on 16 June.
An almost entirely separate England squad begins a white-ball series in Bangladesh on Wednesday.
England’s entertainers beaten at last
This was a breathtaking conclusion to a memorable Test, played out to a rapturous crowd given free entry to the Basin Reserve.
England repeatedly state their commitment to making Test cricket entertaining, but this cannot have been in the script.
When captain Stokes enforced the follow-on on the third morning, New Zealand were 226 behind and England dominant.
What followed was a magnificent Kiwi comeback, with Kane Williamson making a classy century. The Blacks Caps’ total of 483 was the fourth-highest ever made by a team following-on against England.
Beginning the fifth day on 48-1, England were favourites on a pitch that remained good for batting until a chaotic collapse of four wickets for 27, the nadir of which was Harry Brook being run out without facing a ball.
Root’s counter-attack and Stokes’ stoicism – he took 116 balls over his 33 – looked to have regained control, before the pendulum swung again.
Foakes hooked just over Michael Bracewell at deep mid-wicket when he had 12 and New Zealand’s short-ball plan became increasingly ragged.
The target ticked down, anticipation rose and, when Foakes finally made an error, the sight of 40-year-old Anderson walking to the crease was pure theatre.
It looked like he would hit the winning runs for the first time in his distinguished Test career, but instead England suffered only the second one-run defeat in Test history.
This loss will not derail England’s preparations for the summer Ashes. Their style is established and they are transformed from the team that was on a run of one win in 17 Tests this time last year.
Indeed, the biggest concern coming out of this Test is the state of Stokes’ fitness, with the all-rounder often hobbling and bowling only two overs in the match.
Leach and Anderson denied
When the prolific Brook was run out, miles short of his ground after Root pushed towards the slips and took off, Root held his head in his hands.
It came after nightwatchman Ollie Robinson miscued a pull off Southee, Ben Duckett edged a cut off Matt Henry for 33 and the unsettled Ollie Pope did the same off Wagner for 14.
England were in tatters, New Zealand rampant and the Basin Reserve buzzing.
But Root started to make amends for his part in the Brook run-out by launching a blistering assault, targeting the off-spin of Bracewell for particular punishment.
What made the action all the more compelling was Stokes’ grim determination while batting on one leg.
Transformed from the man out slogging in the first innings, Stokes took only one run from his first 19 balls, then mainly scored with edges through or over the slips.
Root’s half-century came at a run-a-ball. In the first 50 runs he added with Stokes, the captain’s contribution was just five.
Wagner’s trademark short-ball plan seemed to be New Zealand’s last hope. It worked.
Stokes’ ugly swipe ended in a top edge to square leg, while Root miscued a pull to miss out on his second century of the match.
Stuart Broad guided a Henry bouncer to third man and England were floored.
But Foakes is unflappable and Leach has form for match-winning partnerships, having supported Stokes in the famous Ashes win at Headingley in 2019.
Though Foakes’ decision to regularly turn down runs seemed questionable, he ensured Leach only once faced more than two balls in the over while gradually chipping away at the target.
Foakes had the match in his grasp only to go for one hook too many, leaving Anderson to write one more chapter in his storied career.
Instead, the brilliant Wagner had the final say and Leach was left one not out from 31 balls.