England's One-Run Defeat To New Zealand Is Just Part Of The Bazball Journey

England lost by one run to New Zealand in dramatic circumstances
10:13, 28 Feb 2023

In the history of Test cricket only four teams have lost having enforced a follow-on. Last night, England etched their name onto that list after suffering an agonising one-run loss to New Zealand. 

It was one of the greatest finishes to a Test match we have seen in recent times. England needed a manageable 258 to win in their final innings, after Tim Southee’s side hit a remarkable 483 in their second innings to give themselves a fighting chance. 

At 80-5, Ben Stokes was staring defeat in the eye before Joe Root rescued the visitors’ hopes with 95, but once the captain and Root were gone, England were struggling. Ben Foakes looked like he’d done enough to steer England towards victory before his late dismissal saw James Anderson enter to write another chapter of his career. 


He and James Leach were under immense pressure, and when the legendary bowler managed to pull a delivery off for four runs, England needed just two to win. However, there was no fairy tale this time as Neil Wagner got his man in dramatic circumstances, a wicket that sent the Basin Reserve berserk, and left England on the end of only the second one-run defeat in Test history. 

It should have been devastating for Brendon McCullum’s side. A one-run defeat, after all the work they put in, certainly wasn’t how they wanted their six-match winning run to come to an end. But instead England, and Anderson walked off with a wry smile. Sure, they’d come up just short, but they’d put on a hell of a show while doing so. 

It would have been far easier for Stokes and co to play it safe during that first innings. They didn’t need to declare on 435/8, but it was the aggressive approach needed to try and win the game. It was Bazball, and it looked like it had worked when New Zealand were skittled for 209 and forced to follow-on. 

Instead of a drab draw, those hardy folks that stayed up until 3.30am on a school night were treated to one of the finest finishes to a Test match that we have ever seen. The entire five days produced wondrous moments as the game ebbed and flowed, as a cricket match is meant to. 

Had they not taken that approach, this Test would have almost certainly petered out to a draw. At a slower more considered pace, the 40 or 50 overs England would have needed to add to that first innings score would have taken a huge chunk of time out of the five days, and New Zealand would have had no real hope of victory. 

From Harry Brook’s 186 in the first innings to his duck in the second, we saw the best and worst of Test cricket. But captain Stokes doesn’t regret his decision to enforce the follow-on in the slightest. 

"Imagine captaining in hindsight? That's not something I would ever do," he said "It was always our game to lose once we enforced the follow on. But the logic behind it was that our opening bowlers have ripped through their top-order for three innings in a row. We knew that New Zealand had to pretty much play the perfect game to put us in a situation like this.”

Stokes’ mindset is perfect for McCullum. England don’t set out to narrowly win matches. They set out to obliterate the opposition in the most ruthless fashion. In doing so, they’ve made this team the most attractive to watch, and without a doubt attracted new fans to the longer format. 

They might have lost the Test match, but Bazball provided another win for Test cricket. 

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