James Anderson and Jack Leach share six wickets as England take command
James Anderson and Jack Leach split the wickets as England bowled themselves into a dominant position on day two of their series deciding second Test against New Zealand.
After another enterprising declaration from captain Ben Stokes, who pulled the plug on his side’s first innings at 435 for eight, the tourists reduced the Black Caps to 96 for six at tea in Wellington.
Stokes’ desire to have two bites at the new ball, one either side of lunch, saw him wave his team in with Joe Root in full flow at 153 not out and it proved an inspired decision as Anderson made good on the gamble.
He knocked over key men Devon Conway and Kane Williamson in an awkward 35-minute period before the break and was fresh to add Will Young when played resumed in the afternoon.
At 21 for three, New Zealand had mirrored England’s score on the first morning exactly. But where they had Root and Harry Brook (186) to thank for a monster stand of 302, New Zealand could not stop the rot. With the pitch beginning to take turn, Leach took the lead and picked off Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls and Daryl Mitchell.
All three were caught in close, with Ollie Pope grabbing a couple of superb one-handers.
England came out full of intent in front of a sold out crowd at the Basin Reserve, adding 120 runs at a cost of five wickets before Stokes declared.
Root did most of the heavy lifting, resuming on 101 overnight and adding a further 52 from just 42 balls, including three sixes. The first of those came from his fourth ball of the morning, reverse ramping Tim Southee over the ropes at third man to make his intentions for the day crystal clear.
That shot took his fourth-wicket stand with Brook into triple-hundred territory, but the younger man was gone a few moments later. Matt Henry held a rapid return chance, Brook perishing in the same style he had thrived – with a hefty punch down the ground.
That ended his hopes of toppling father David’s family record of 210, made in the Airedale and Wharfedale League in 2001, but his status as a major force in Test cricket appears fixed after just six caps.
Stokes was next up, contributing the kind of frantic cameo that has become his stock in trade as captain. He lasted 28 balls, made 27 runs, hit five boundaries and could easily have been out three times.
His end came when he tried to flog a difficult length ball from Neil Wagner over the infield, with an element of self-sacrifice about his frantic knock.
After Ben Foakes over-balanced to be stumped for a duck, Root reached his 14th score of 150 or more before Stokes brought forward the change of innings.
There was time for seven overs but Anderson needed just four balls to deliver the goods, shaping one away from the left-handed Conway and taking a thin edge that neither he nor wicketkeeper Foakes appeared to detect. But the slips were convinced and a DRS referral confirmed their suspicions.
Williamson was next to go, wafting lazily at Anderson to a ball that should have been left. The former Kiwi captain was gone for four, taking his series tally to 10 from three innings and giving the tourists a huge shot in the arm.
After a 40-minute break Anderson continued his outstanding efforts with the new ball, producing a pearl that scraped the edge of the blameless Will Young as it zipped back in. New Zealand fought hard to avoid a collapse but by now Leach had enough to work with as he set up camp at one end.
Latham (35) was caught at slip after a long DRS review determined the ball had hit the wristband of the glove ahead of the arm guard before Pope showed his worth under the helmet. He pounced to snatch a fine catch off Nicholls’ reverse sweep at short-leg, then needed even quicker reactions to cling on to Mitchell at silly point in the last over before tea.