The Press Box
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The Press Box

The New England

The Brendon McCullum era has started with a bang, can England keep the good times coming?

Jonny Bairstow blasted England to victory at Trent Bridge (Photo: BBC)

England wrapped up a series win against New Zealand with one match to spare thanks mostly to a bludgeoning century from Jonny Bairstow.

The win, or any win, looked unlikely after both sides posted over 500 in their first innings, yet a brave bowling effort followed by an even braver fourth innings batting display saw Ben Stokes’ side chase down 299 with over 20 overs still to play at Trent Bridge.

The manner of the victory is one that has not been familiar to England in recent times. In days gone by, the side may not have pushed on for a victory and may have tried to set up for a draw which could have led to a demoralising defeat.

Yet this new England, led by coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes, is far braver than the side that got humbled in Australia and the Caribbean.

This bravery has been added to players in top form, with former captain Joe Root being the prime example of this.

His century at Lords moved him past 10,000 Test runs, and his 176 at Trent Bridge (supported by an Ollie Pope ton) helped his side to an almost parity score.

Root has had the captaincy burden removed, and has scored well over three hundred runs in the two Tests since Ben Stokes took over the captaincy.

Having a bonafide run machine in the top order is what any side needs, but before this Test that is pretty much all England had on many occasions.

This series has so far shown that most of the batters in the England side can step up to the mark.

Alex Lees scored over 100 runs at Trent Bridge, and looked very consistent and confident; in fact, he often showed the stamina of a batter far more seasoned at the international level than himself.

The end of this glance over the English game could only end with talk of Jonny Bairstow.

The Yorkshireman has so often had his place in the side questioned, and many would argue with good reason.

Yet he came to the crease at 93–4, with a defeat looking far more likely than a victory.

He joined his captain, and he instantly took the game by the scruff of its neck and sent the New Zealand bowlers to almost every corner of Trent Bridge.

We all know what Bairstow can do as a white-ball player, and he flicked the switch from a red-ball mode in an instant, starting just after tea.

It is important to praise Bairstow for a superb batting display, but making big scores on a regular basis is something he needs to master in order to continue to justify his place in the squad.

The early signs of England’s new era are promising, and the nightmare of the winter is being thawed by some impressive batting and bowling displays on home soil.

A series win against a talented New Zealand side is a huge step forward for England and, if the first two Tests of the McCullum era are anything to go by; it’s certainly not going to be dull.

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Patrick Hollis

Patrick Hollis

I am a journalist with an honours degree from Coventry University. I’m a published author and journalist with several years experience