Test cricket demanded an intense contest played in the right spirit to counter the poisonous offering by Australia in South Africa this week.

New Zealand and England delivered that at Eden Park across the final day.

Every time the visitors fought back after their initial capitulation for 58, the hosts struck, notably at the end of three separate sessions on their way to an innings and 49-run victory.

That trio of moments defined the denouement, as England suffered a fifth innings defeat in eight away tests.


Captain Joe Root was dismissed from the last ball of the fourth day. Trent Boult wrapped him on the right forefinger and several minutes' treatment ensued. When Root took guard again, Boult tagged his gloves with precision down the legside and B-J Watling pouched the catch.

Next was Moeen Ali, in the last over before tea on the final day. After 16 deliveries with the second new ball, Boult struck Ali in front. The umpire erred, presumably on the basis he believed the ball hit bat before pad.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson consulted his players and asked for a second opinion. The review revealed the in-swinger hit pad first. Ball tracker suggested stumps could be added to the list.

Kane Williamson celebrates with team mates after taking a catch to dismiss Bairstow. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Kane Williamson celebrates with team mates after taking a catch to dismiss Bairstow. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

"They were five or six down and there were two reviews left so I took that into account, spoke to B-J behind the stumps and thought 'why not?'" Williamson said.

Just as déjà vu loomed from exactly five years ago - when a Matt Prior century kept England in the contest for a final ball draw - Ben Stokes was dismissed for 66 from 188 deliveries.

That's a strike rate of 35, compared to his career mark of 64.

The left-hander looked like cricket's equivalent of Donald Trump in front of Twitter. The temptation to lay into some of the deliveries trespassing outside off stump must have had his shoulders twitching. Stokes' discipline held.

He and Chris Woakes were on the verge of battling through the middle session without mishap, posting 83 runs in 184 balls.

Wagner peppered the pair consistently, pitching short-of-a-length on middle-and-leg and seeing batsmen squirm, hesitate or lash out in search of a panacea to the venom.

On 63, at 292 for six, Wagner sought acknowledgement for his efforts. He paused mid-pitch, after the second ball of the 112th over had the England No.5 giving the impression Epsom salts had passed under his nose. Stokes eventually locked eyes and offered a respectful grin.

Meanwhile, four players hunkered in the shadows of the arc between the north and west stands at deep square leg, long leg, fine leg and fine third man like crocodiles waiting to be fed.

With the tension palpable in the last over before dinner, Wagner dropped short and Stokes looked to paste it behind point. Tim Southee caught a skyer running backwards.

"Stokes was playing an innings that wasn't to his true nature in terms of the stroke player he is," Williamson said.


"He knuckled down and batted a long period to keep us out."

"The way he got out was not a fair representation of how he got stuck in, and put in a good shift for England," Root added.

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