Wagner five-for leads NZ to crushing victory over England
Mount Maunganui, New
Zealand - New Zealand marked the arrival of Test cricket in Bay of Plenty with an emphatic victory over England on Monday.
These are times of rich promise for Kane Williamson's side and it made light of the suggestion that the surface at Mount Maunganui might be too flat to provide a result, Neil Wagner's ebullient five-wicket haul seeing it home with plenty of room to spare on the final day.
For England, it was a case of new coach, new approach, but largely the same result. Having won the toss and gained first use of the pitch, a first-innings total of 353 was soon shown up as inadequate by New Zealand's more ruthless approach.
The brittle nature of its batting was then exposed for a second time, with no one managing more than Joe Denly's 35 as it crumbled to an innings defeat.
Needing to bat for most of the day in order to squeeze out of the game with a draw, England lost four wickets during the afternoon session to fatally undermine its cause. Wagner claimed three of them in a five-over burst before tea that ripped the guts out of England's resistance, with a ninth-wicket stand of 59 between Sam Curran and Jofra Archer only serving to underline what might have been achievable.
New Zealand has not lost a Test at home since 2017, and the way it wrestled control in this match - through the recordbreaking feats of BJ Watling and Mitchell Santner and a concerted team effort with the ball - ably demonstrated why it sits No 2 in the ICC's Test rankings.
Watling was named man-ofthe-match for his marathon double-hundred and while Santner could not add to the three vital wickets he had claimed on the fourth evening, there was a flying catch to savour as New Zealand surged towards victory.
Although England did threaten to draw the game out, losing just one wicket in the first 41 overs of the day, it is a marker of New Zealand's collective strength that someone always seems to stand up when required.
Wagner, who looks like he would celebrate the successful purchase of a new hoover with a fist-pumping run towards the cashiers, charged into the fray during the afternoon session to
break the tourists resolve.
England's batsmen did, however, lend the odd helping hand. Perhaps most disappointing for Joe Root, the man hoping to help build a new era for England in
Test cricket under Chris Silverwood, was his own dismissal and that of his vice-captain, Ben Stokes.
Both departed to ill-judged strokes against balls that were not threatening their stumps, clearing the path for Wagner to run through the rest of the line-up.
The loss of Stokes, England's top-scorer in the first innings, dealt the gravest blow to its hopes of saving the game. He and Denly had taken the score to 121 for four, approaching the afternoon drinks break, when Tim Southee's perseverance outside off stump was rewarded as Stokes was bowled off his inside edge trying to force a wide delivery.
New Zealand, and Wagner, sensed their moment. Denly's 142-ball vigil was ended a few overs later, when Wagner went around the wicket and found some extra bounce from a length to flick the glove - Kumar Dharmasena declined the initial appeal but Williamson immediately, and confidently, reviewed.
Ollie Pope was then suckered in Wagner's next over, mishitting what looked like a wide full toss but was actually a knuckleball towards cover, where Santner continued a memorable Test by clinging on a full stretch.
When Jos Buttler opted to leave Wagner's first delivery with the second new ball, only to see it crash into the base of off stump, the game was effectively up.
Curran and Archer stitched together a partnership to extend proceedings into the final session, thwarting Santner's attempts to add a five-for to his hundred; but Wagner returned to claim the last two wickets with consecutive balls and seal an impressive win.
New Zealand's Neil Wagner (right) celebrates with teammates after bowling England's Jos Buttler during the fifth day of the first Test at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand, on Sunday