England v New Zealand: Tourists win by eight wickets to take series

England’s dismal second-Test defeat was confirmed inside an hour on the fourth morning at Edgbaston, giving New Zealand a 1-0 series win.

The home side lost their last wicket to the first ball of the day, with Olly Stone edging behind off Trent Boult.

That meant New Zealand had only 38 runs to chase, which they did inside 11 overs to win by eight wickets.

It is England’s first home series defeat since 2014, when Sri Lanka won a two-match series 1-0.

And it is New Zealand’s first success in England in 22 years, and leaves them in fine fettle heading into the World Test Championship final against India at the Ageas Bowl that starts on Friday.

England move on to limited-overs matches against Sri Lanka and Pakistan before a five-Test series against India begins in August.

England left scrambling for answers

For some time, England have been saying they are building towards this winter’s Ashes series, but, gradually, this team is finding problems and losing answers.

Not once in 2021 have England fielded a full-strength Test side. They began the year with three successive victories but have now lost four of their past five.

Yes, there have been injuries to Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, while the need to rest Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran has been explained as a way to manage workloads and protect players from issues related to the Covid era.

Still, even with Stokes and Buttler unavailable, England have fielded a near full-strength top six in this series and their batting has been abject.

Not only that, but their catching has been woeful and the spin of Jack Leach has been curiously ignored in both Tests against New Zealand.

England have been adamant they have a plan, that their Test side will come together fit and firing when it matters most.

The signs are that it is becomingly increasingly difficult to make good on that promise.

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