After England’s Test resurgence continued with a 267-run victory over New Zealand in the pink-ball series opener, we rate the tourists’ players out of 10…
Ben Duckett – 8/10
84 off 68 balls
25 off 27 balls
It seems a long time ago now, but it was Duckett who set the tone for England’s dominant victory with a brilliant first-innings 84 from just 68 deliveries. His high scoring rate was made even more impressive by the relative lack of risk he appeared to be taking while achieving it. While he will be disappointed at failing to push on from a solid start in the second innings, Duckett is now averaging above 66 since returning to the side for the tour of Pakistan and looks the far more assured member of England’s opening pair.
Zak Crawley – 5/10
4 off 14 balls
28 off 39 balls
It was far from Crawley’s best game as he was dismissed early in the first innings, before failing to take advantage of a streaky start, which took him to 28 second time around. Out in typical Crawley fashion – caught behind after wafting outside off stump – in both innings, pressure could start to build on the Kent batter if he fails again in the second Test. His case was not helped by a dropped slip catch in either innings, the first of which proved costly as Devon Conway went on to make 77 after being put down on nine.
Ollie Pope – 7/10
42 off 65 balls
49 off 46 balls
No fifty in this match for Pope but he more than did his job with brisk scoring in both innings to help England pile on 325-9 declared inside 59 overs first time around and then race to 374 all out within 74 a few days later. On Thursday, he shared a run-a-ball stand of 99 with Duckett as England rattled along after the early exit of Crawley and then on Saturday he belted around Neil Wagner’s barrage of bumpers as the tourists plundered 158 from 25.1 overs in the opening session.
Each of his Pope’s dismissals could be described as loose by traditionalists – a loose drive, a snick down the leg-side off a short ball – but that attacking intent is embraced by this England team. It’s go big or go home.
Joe Root 6/10
14 off 22 balls
57 off 62 balls
Former captain Root has taken the ‘Bazball’ mentality on board. One of England’s most classically correct batters of all time is mixing textbook crisp drives with reverse sweeps/scoops, getting out twice to the latter in the Mount Maunganui Test, the second time around when he looked on course for what would have been a first century in 11 innings.
Head coach Brendon McCullum reportedly endorsed Root’s shot selection in front of the team after his first-innings exit so we can expect similar innovation in future. The shedload of runs Root was scoring when England were hopeless at Test cricket may have, if only temporarily, dried up but he will surely accept trading those daddy hundreds for the winning feeling England have experienced in all but one Test under Ben Stokes’ permanent captaincy.
Harry Brook – 9/10
89 off 81 balls
54 off 41 balls
The praise for Brook keeps on coming and rightly so, with the Yorkshireman having passed fifty in six of his eight Test knocks to date to become an undroppable member of the side. Fresh from three tons in as many matches during December’s 3-0 sweep in Pakistan, Brook cracked two rapid half-centuries at Bay Oval and twice seemed as though he might challenge Gilbert Jessop’s England-record 76-ball century from 1902.
Jessop will be eclipsed sooner or later and Brook appears odds-on favourite. He scores quickly enough and is going to be around for a long time. “I think he will be global superstar,” Stokes said of Brook after the match. He might be there already, Ben!
Ben Stokes – 7/10
19 off 28 balls
31 off 33 balls
1-38 from seven overs
He laughs at the term ‘Bazball’ and is even less fond of ‘Benball’ but whatever we call this exciting England style, it is working a treat. Ten wins from 11 and six in a row with Stokes the driving force. His day-one declaration paid dividends as England reduced New Zealand to 37-3 under the lights and the approach he demands from his batters produced 703 runs during the Test in 132 overs.
Stokes contributed 50 of those runs across two innings and also struck two maximums to become the leading six-hitter in Test cricket, with his tally of 109 now two clear of England coach and former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum.
Stokes’ innings were not long but they did help England hurry along so that, combined with the declaration and dismissing New Zealand opener Conway in the home side’s first innings, means we will give him a seven.
Ben Foakes – 8/10
38 off 56 balls
51 off 80 balls
Foakes came out to bat ahead of his skipper on the penultimate day for what we initially thought were tactical reasons but was actually because Stokes was on the bog. Foakes was pretty flush with runs in the game, making 38 from 56 balls in England’s first innings and then 51 from 80 deliveries in their second. A chance went begging with the gloves when New Zealand’s first-innings centurion Tom Blundell slashed to his fellow wicketkeeper on 117 and Foakes was unable to collect one-handed. It did not matter in the end, though. England’s batters and bowlers made sure of that.
Ollie Robinson – 8/10
4-54 from 19 overs
1-34 from eight overs
15no off 11 balls
39 off 48 balls
While Broad and Anderson will rightly hog the headlines after making more history, Robinson continued to enhance his reputation with another fine display, particularly in New Zealand’s first innings. The ever-improving pace bowler set things off under the lights on day one by making the breakthrough and went on to take 4-54.
It was all about ‘Branderson’ in the second innings, but Robinson did chip in with a wicket amid Broad’s brilliance on Saturday night to end his mate’s hopes of bowling all 10 New Zealand batters. Robinson also offered useful contributions with the bat – an unbeaten 15 in the first innings followed by 39 in the second to crucially extend England’s lead.
Stuart Broad – 9/10
1-72 from 17 overs
4-49 from 15 overs
After a pretty quiet display in the first innings – in which his only scalp was nightwatchman Wagner – and a slightly embarrassing outing as the ‘nighthawk’ in England’s second innings, Broad was not having the greatest return to international action.
However, with a historic joint wicket-taking benchmark with Anderson beckoning, Broad produced an all-time great spell to issue an emphatic reminder of his enduring greatness. He clean bowled four of New Zealand’s top six to help reduce the hosts to 28-5, snuffing out any hope they had of chasing down 394 and all but ending the contest. Broad will be delighted to have set down in marker ahead of this summer’s Ashes.
James Anderson – 9/10
3-36 from 16.5 overs
4-18 from 10.3 overs
Another year, the same James Anderson… The 40-year-old continued to amaze, taking two key wickets under the lights at the end of day one to put England on top, and extending a remarkable record of 21 successive years with a Test wicket. While it was long-time opening partner Broad who took them past Australian duo Glenn McGrath and Shane Warner for the most wickets by a pair in Test matches played together, Anderson came back to finish the job on Sunday. He single-handedly cleaned up New Zealand’s tail to end the match with a leading total of seven wickets, at a measly economy of around two runs per over.
Jack Leach – 6/10
1-84 from 18 overs
1-25 from 11 overs
Not a dazzling outing from Leach – except for a sublime uppercut over cover-point with the bat in the second innings – but he will savour the win having been hospitalised and left fearing for his life after contracting sepsis on England’s last tour of New Zealand in 2019. The left-arm spinner spoke about being “braver” with the ball ahead of the series and arguably could have been more courageous with his areas in the first Test, in which he recorded match figures of 2-109 from 29 overs.
Follow England’s second and final Test against New Zealand, at Basin Reserve in Wellington, across Sky Sports’ digital platforms, from 10pm on Thursday night.