Relentless England race to series whitewash in entertaining start to new era

By Sports Desk June 27, 2022

England concluded a series whitewash of New Zealand in fashion befitting the rest of the primitive Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum era.

The new captain-coach combo have inspired England to three relentlessly entertaining Test displays – and now three wins, after Joe Root (86 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (71 no) clinched a seven-wicket victory on day five at Headingley.

England chased down 277 in the first Test and 299 in the second, and the target of 296 in Leeds never looked beyond them as they resumed on 183-2.

Rain delayed the start of play until after lunch on Monday, and Stokes' side quickly lost Ollie Pope (82) to a beauty from Tim Southee, but Bairstow picked up where he left off in his previous two innings (136 at Trent Bridge, 162 at Headingley).

His partnership with Root passed 50 inside 39 balls – the two Yorkshiremen thrilling a home crowd – but Bairstow was scoring at a far faster rate than his former captain.

Soon enough, he reached the half-century himself from just 30 deliveries – the second-quickest 50 by an England Test batsman.

Having squandered two reviews on Sunday attempting to remove Root, Kane Williamson's third went when Bairstow was caught off his forearm, rather than his glove. The batter was never concerned and swiftly resumed his assault on the New Zealand attack.

Fittingly, Bairstow finished with a four and then a six, with victory over the world Test champions wrapped up a little over an hour after the belated start.

Blistering Bairstow only behind Botham

No England player has profited as much as Bairstow from the freedom afforded him by Stokes and McCullum, with each knock seemingly better than the last.

There was little pressure on this occasion, with plenty of time and wickets in hand, and Bairstow fell agonisingly short of a long-standing Ian Botham record – his 28-ball half-century against India in 1981 briefly within reaching distance when Bairstow sent his 27th ball over the rope to reach 46.

A dot ball and a single followed before Bairstow passed 50 with his sixth four, to go with two maximums, after just 42 minutes.

India up next after unprecedented success

England have only until Friday before their next Test against India, but there will be few complaints, with the team quickly finding their rhythm under new leadership and relishing every new challenge.

India might be tempted to put England in to bat, for no target looks beyond Stokes' men when behind; they are the first Test team to chase down 250 three times in a single series.

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