Brilliant Jonny Bairstow onslaught guides England to famous win over New Zealand

Hosts complete record Trent Bridge run chase to take series-clinching victory in second Test

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Seldom has a batter exited the playing field with such a look of satisfaction on their face after being dismissed before a game has been won.

Jonny Bairstow departed the crease with 27 runs still to get for England to win the second Test against New Zealand on Tuesday afternoon at Trent Bridge.

The contented smile which he wore all the way back to the dressing room was well earned.

A game that had appeared all but unwinnable when England conceded 553 in the first innings was now as good as sealed.

And Bairstow himself had just played one of the all-time epics of English Test history.

He signed for 136 from 92 balls. Not long after, England were signing for a win which puts them 2-0 up in the series with one game still to go. That, too, against the side who became the first world Test champions last year.

How sweet the rebirth of England’s Test team has been so far.

When Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum were appointed to transform this side at the start of the summer, they warned it might take a while.

Two Tests in, it already feels like they are a side revolutionised.

Judged by the scenes beyond the boundary in Nottingham, the glory days really are already here again. A packed-out crowd, despite it being the second day of the working week, witnessed the highest ever fourth-innings run chase in a Trent Bridge Test.

The ground’s authorities had played their part in the upsurge of goodwill, by offering free admission, despite a classic day’s play being in the offing.

For the first two sessions of it, the sides appeared evenly matches. Starting the day with three wickets left available to them, New Zealand managed to eke out 284 in their second innings, and thus set England a target of 299 from a minimum of 72 overs.

By the time they reached the tea break, that target had been whittled down to 160 off 40 overs, with the home side four wickets down.

Given what occurred from there on, it was a wonder New Zealand ever thought they stood a chance.

When English cricket started its reset at the start of the summer, it was said the Test team need to be more like their limited-overs colleagues.

That was taken to mean, try to match the success of a side who are world champs themselves in the 50-over format, and contenders for the same in the T20 sphere.

From the evidence of Trent Bridge, they have taken it to mean play like them, too.

The post-tea blitz from Bairstow and Stokes was a match for any that the duo – who are two of England’s white-ball greats – have ever produced in the limited-overs arena.

The remaining 160 runs required for victory were knocked off in 16 overs. Ten an over, in the final session of a Test match, on a fifth-day wicket. It was stunning, violent and, for a country whose Test team has been on its knees for so long, uplifting.

Amid his flurry of sixes, Bairstow threatened to break a record that has stood for 120 years. In the end, he missed Gilbert Jessop’s fastest Test century by an England batter by just one delivery.

By the time he did depart, he had laced seven sixes into the happy throng in the stands.

He might have left the scene before the job was completed, but England had just the man for that job. It was left to Stokes, who finished unbeaten on 75 from 70 balls, to hit the winning runs.

Updated: June 14, 2022, 4:49 PM
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