New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and his England counterpart Joe Root both took positives from the two-Test series that ended yesterday with the hosts securing a 1-0 victory after rain washed out most of the final day’s play in Hamilton.
The second Test ended in a draw after Williamson (104) and Ross Taylor (105) thwarted England’s attack with an unbroken 213-run partnership to help their side seal a fifth successive series win at home.
The hosts won the first game at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui by an innings and 65 runs, but England held the upper hand for significant periods in the second Test and Root was pleased with the way his side reacted.
“We have been talking about scoring big runs in the first innings, so for us to come back from last week, and learn the lessons and put in a performance like that was pleasing,” Root said. “We are a side that wants to learn, and learn quickly.”
Root’s return to form with a superbly crafted 226 in Hamilton after a poor year proved the catalyst for his side’s improved batting on a pitch that proved difficult to score on, but also offered the bowlers little assistance.
He also got significant support from opener Rory Burns, who scored 101, and 21-year-old Ollie Pope, 75, as England scored 476, their first score of more than 400 in a Test in more than a year.
“We want to become resilient in these conditions, and make sure that we can back up performances like this and become a much harder side to beat, and then go on and win games when it gets flat or it gets hard,” Root said.
Williamson was also pleased with his side’s resilience after they went into the match without injured new-ball bowler Trent Boult and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme.
Neil Wagner toiled away and was rewarded with five-wicket hauls in successive innings, 13 wickets at 19.84 each. He was named Man of the Series.
With both pitches proving tough for batsmen and bowlers, Williamson said the mental application of his team had impressed him the most as they head to Australia next week for a three-Test series starting in Perth on Dec. 12.
“From our guys perspective, it was great to see the fight and attitude,” Williamson said. “There were times when nothing was happening, but guys wanted the ball in their hands, and they wanted to try and take wickets.Collectively, it was a good effort.”
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