Wellington: New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and his England counterpart Joe Root both took positives from the two-Test series that ended on Tuesday, with the hosts securing a 1-0 victory after rain washed out most of the final day’s play in Hamilton.
The second Test ended in a draw after Williamson (104) and Ross Taylor (105) thwarted England’s attack with an unbroken 213-run partnership to help their side seal a fifth successive series win at home.
The hosts won the first game at Bay Oval in Mt. Maunganui by an innings and 65 runs but England held the upper hand for significant periods in the second test and Root was pleased with the way his side had reacted.
“We have been talking about scoring big runs in the first innings so for us to come back from last week and learn the lessons and put in a performance like that was pleasing,” Root said. “We are a side that wants to learn and learn quickly.
Root’s return to form with a superbly crafted 226 in Hamilton after a poor 2019 proved the catalyst for his side’s improved batting on a pitch that proved difficult to score from but also offered the bowlers little assistance.
He also got significant support from opener Rory Burns, who scored 101, and 21-year-old Ollie Pope (75) as England scored 476, their first score over 400 in a Test in more than a year.
“We want to become resilient in these conditions and make sure that we can back up performances like this and become a much harder side to beat and then go on and win games when it gets flat or it gets hard,” Root added.
Williamson was also pleased with his side’s resilience after they went into the match without injured new ball bowler Trent Boult and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme.
Pace bowler Matt Henry and debutant all-rounder Daryl Mitchell slotted into the team seamlessly with the 28-year-old Mitchell scoring 73 in his only innings.
Neil Wagner also toiled away on two unresponsive pitches and was rewarded with five-wicket hauls in successive innings, 13 wickets at 19.84 each, and the Man-of-the-Series award.
With both pitches proving tough for both batsmen and bowlers, Williamson said the mental application of his team had impressed him the most as they head to Australia next week for a three-test series starting in Perth on December 12.
Wicketkeeper BJ Watling scored his maiden Test double century, and topped the run-scoring charts, while Mitchell Santner also scored his first century.
New Zealand batsmen also contributed five of the seven centuries and five of the nine half centuries scored between the sides in the series.
“From our guys perspective, it was great to see the fight and attitude,” Williamson said.
“There were times when nothing was happening but guys wanted the ball in their hands and they wanted to try and take wickets.
“Collectively it was a good effort.”
New Zealand coach Gary Stead, meanwhile, is “quietly optimistic” that Boult and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme will be available for his side’s three-test series that starts against Australia in Perth next week.
Boult (ribs) and de Grandhomme (stomach muscle) missed the second Test against England in Hamilton. “They’re both progressing well, which is encouraging for us,” Stead told reporters, adding that they would undergo a light fitness test on Wednesday before a more rigorous assessment on Friday.