Jonny Bairstow smashed England’s second-fastest test century with some brutal hitting to lead his country to a record run chase at Trent Bridge and a five-wicket victory in the second test against New Zealand, clinching the series with one match to spare.
Set 299 to win in a little over two sessions on Day 5, England reached its target in 50 overs with Bairstow falling for 136 off 92 balls just before the victory was sealed.
Thrown together with England in a tough spot at 93-4 in the reply, Bairstow and captain Ben Stokes (75 not out) could have played for the draw to preserve the team’s 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Instead, they went on the attack — following the attacking approach favored by new coach Brendon McCullum, a Kiwi — and it blew the New Zealanders away.
In the first nine overs after tea, which England reached still needing 160 runs off a minimum 38 overs, Bairstow and Stokes hit 102 runs in a savage assault that saw the ball disappear to all corners of the ground that was sold out for the final day.
Bairstow dominated the strike, completing his ninth test century in 77 deliveries — one ball more than Gilbert Jessop’s record for England set in 1902. Stokes was mostly an onlooker at the other end as he struggled with pain in his right knee that meant it was a struggle to run between the wicket.
Bairstow eventually departed to a standing ovation after nicking Trent Boult behind, having struck 14 fours and seven sixes. That left Stokes and Ben Foakes (12 not out) to guide England to the winning post.
Bairstow said England treated the chase like a one-day game, and he was told by Stokes to “just hit it into the back of the stand.”
“If you go into it with a negative mentality, then all of a sudden you might be a bit apprehensive,” he said. “The positive approach, the brand of cricket we are looking to play, the players in that dressing room are able to play it. Today was very exciting and if this is happening now, let’s see what happens in the next few weeks and the next few months. Wow, it’s going to be a journey.”
England had won one of its last 17 tests before the launch of a new era under Stokes and McCullum for this international summer. The team has won its first two tests under new leadership, with this Trent Bridge triumph backing up England’s five-wicket victory at Lord’s in the first match of the series against the reigning world test champions.
The previous highest successful chase in Nottingham came in 2004 when England’s 284-6 defeated New Zealand. There had been only two others aside above 200 from that.
New Zealand somehow lost a test match having scored 553 in its first innings after being put into bat.
The tourists even looked marginal favorites after adding 60 runs to its overnight score of 224-7, eventually getting dismissed for 284 about 45 minutes before lunch.
But they proved to be massively handicapped by the absence of fast bowler Kyle Jamieson, who was unable to bowl — even though he came out and batted — because of a back injury.
Still, the way England responded was nothing short of sensational.
“Today was set up absolutely perfectly for the way we want to go about things going forward,” Stokes said. “It’s pretty simple — run into the danger and rather than back away, just stand still. That’s definitely what we did today.”