|First Test, Eden Park, Auckland (day five of five)|
|England 58 & 320: Stokes 66; Astle 3-39|
|New Zealand 427-8 dec: Nicholls 145; Broad 3-78|
|New Zealand won by an innings and 49 runs|
England lost by an innings and 49 runs to New Zealand in the first Test at Auckland despite the efforts of all-rounder Ben Stokes on the final day.
Stokes made a patient 66 from 188 balls as he and Chris Woakes (52) helped the tourists recover after early wickets.
The Durham man’s dismissal three balls before the dinner break effectively ended England’s hopes of a draw.
They will get a chance to level the two-match series at Christchurch in the second Test, which starts on Thursday.
The seeds of defeat were sewn on day one of this match when England were dismissed for a paltry 58 – their sixth-lowest total in Test history and arguably the batting nadir of the winter.
However, with two days severely impacted by rain, they had a realistic chance to salvage a draw if they could bat out the final day.
This was not a typical day five pitch at Eden Park, and conditions were relatively comfortable for batting but the task proved beyond England.
They lost three wickets in the first session, but Stokes proved difficult to dislodge as he shared a seventh-wicket stand of 83 with Woakes.
His vigil was ended three balls before the end of the second session, though, when he skied a bouncer from Neil Wagner (3-77) and was caught by Tim Southee in the point region.
That left New Zealand requiring three wickets in 31.3 overs under the floodlights and Wagner duly had Woakes caught at short leg before James Anderson was last man out when he was caught by Trent Boult off Todd Astle, who finished with 3-39.
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England unable to match heroics of 2013
Five years ago to the day at Eden Park, Matt Prior made an unbeaten century as England dramatically batted out to draw the third Test and the series.
Prior faced 182 balls and occupied the crease for four hours and 29 minutes – the longest innings of his Test career – as he and Monty Panesar batted memorably at the death.
England had begun that day 90-4, while on this occasion they had seven wickets in hand and 132 on the board, and Stokes and Woakes both showed a similar kind of fortitude and stoicism to Prior.
Defeat felt inevitable as soon as Stokes was dismissed in the 114th over, although fellow all-rounder Woakes continued the defiance for another 12 overs until he fended a Wagner bouncer into the hands of Henry Nicholls at short leg.
England will have had high hopes for this series after the first part a winter of discontent resulted in a 4-0 thrashing by Australia in the Ashes.
However, it must feel a case of deja vu for supporters waking up in the UK to see England’s Test team struggling on a tour. This was their 10th defeat in their past 12 overseas matches.
Ultimately they paid the price for a disastrous first innings where rustiness, poor footwork and shot selection – combined with the brilliance of man-of-the-match Boult – proved the difference.
England at least showed in the second innings they could compete but that will be only a crumb of comfort.
Brave and brainless from Stokes
Stokes was playing in a Test match for the first time since an incident outside a Bristol nightclub last September, which saw him charged with affray. Stokes has denied the charges and will appear in court on 6 August.
England batsman Dawid Malan said before play started on the final day that “reputations are built” on “saving your team by batting all day”.
However, Malan’s was the first wicket to fall when he hung his bat out and edged Southee to the hands of Tom Latham at second slip.
In 2013’s draw, England benefited from dropped catches. Here, Jonny Bairstow was put down twice as wicketkeeper BJ Watling parried a tough chance down leg side before Boult spilled a dolly at mid-on off leg-spinner Astle.
Bairstow’s luck ran out, though, when he pulled a long hop from Astle and Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson took a fine diving catch at short mid-wicket.
Moeen Ali lived a charmed life before he was given out lbw on review to Boult (3-67) before Stokes and Woakes led the fightback.
Stokes in particular had a steely determination in his eyes and his tussles with Wagner’s short-pitched bowling were gripping.
The major regret for the 26-year-old will be the frustrating manner of his dismissal, which was out of kilter with the rest of his innings.
Just three balls were left before the dinner break when he flailed at a wide-ish bouncer from Wagner and Southee ran around to take the catch.
It later emerged Stokes, who had not bowled in the match, had taken painkillers after feeling some discomfort in his back. He will be assessed by England’s medical staff.
Once he was out, victory for New Zealand was inevitable as Craig Overton was trapped lbw by Astle, Woakes bounced out and Anderson chipped one into the hands of Boult.
England’s overseas Test woes – stats
- This was England’s fifth loss in their past six Tests and their 10th defeat in their past 12 Test matches overseas.
- Since the beginning of 2016, England’s away record in Test cricket is worse than all but Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
- There have been 11 occasions when a team have been 200 behind with three wickets in hand heading into the final day and have batted through to save the Test.
- Ben Stokes’ partnership with Chris Woakes was only the fifth all winter to have lasted more than 180 balls.
- This was New Zealand’s 10th Test victory over England in 102 Tests.
‘Match was lost on day one’ – reaction
England captain Joe Root: “We weren’t at our best in all departments if we’re being brutally honest. We couldn’t take those 10 wickets and it’s important we learn those lessons quickly as we’ve got another Test match next week and we want to win it to draw the series.
“Decisions have to be made with rational thinking and we’ll do that over the next couple of days.
“I had great belief in the boys in the dressing room. I asked them before the start of play to show how much it meant to them to play for England. The Test match wasn’t lost today, it was lost on day one.
“I’m a little bit sore. You always worry about finger injuries but I’ll be fine for the next Test.”
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson: “We knew we would have to work hard against a quality England bowling attack and to take wickets in the second innings. It was great we were able to exert pressure throughout the day.
“We knew we wanted to come out and play the long game and not get too far ahead of ourselves. We knew the ball wouldn’t do a lot for us. We had a couple go our way but they came after periods of pressure.
“A big part was taking wickets before the end of the session. It was important – the guys spirits were high. Trent [Boult] was outstanding, so was Tim [Southee].”