|Third LV Insurance Test, Headingley (day five of five)|
|New Zealand 329 (Mitchell 109, Leach 5-100) & 326 (Blundell 88*, Latham 76; Leach 5-66)|
|England 360 (Bairstow 162, Overton 97) & 296-3 (Root 86*, Pope 82, Bairstow 71*)|
|England won by seven wickets|
England romped to victory on the final day of the third Test against New Zealand at Headingley to seal a stunning 3-0 series win.
The hosts scored the 113 runs needed to complete their chase of 296 in only 65 minutes as they won by seven wickets.
After rain delayed the start of play until 13:30 BST, England lost Ollie Pope for 82 in the first over, but Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root banished any nerves with a dominant unbroken stand of 111.
Root finished unbeaten on 86 while Bairstow smashed a whirlwind 71 not out from 44 balls.
Victory capped an astonishing start for captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, who took over before the series following England’s dismal run of one win in 17 Tests.
They are now brimming with confidence going into their next challenge, the rearranged Test against India at Edgbaston which begins on Friday.
A fitting finale for England’s entertainers
Exactly three months ago England’s Test team were at one of their lowest points in recent memory, having lost by 10 wickets to West Indies in Grenada to lose the series.
The turnaround since has been remarkable, with world Test champions New Zealand swept aside in a fashion rarely seen in the longest format.
England have won the series by racing to supposedly tricky chases of 277, 299 and now 296, making them the first team to successfully pursue more than 250 in three Tests in a row.
They batted on the final day as they have throughout, by thrashing boundaries and delighting a crowd who had been let into the ground for free.
Their position of 55-6 in their first innings was a distant memory by the time Bairstow heaved spinner Michael Bracewell over mid-wicket for six to wrap up victory.
Bairstow thrills again
England completed their chase in only 54.2 overs. There were a mere 15.2 overs of play on the final day.
Pope was bowled by a fine ball from Tim Southee that jagged back, but that was the only blemish.
Root and Bairstow took 17 from the second over of the day, bowled by Trent Boult, with the pair hitting two fours each.
Root’s knock was made to look pedestrian by Bairstow, who reached his fifty in only 30 balls – the second fastest Test half-century for England.
He smacked Southee over his head for six early on and heaved Bracewell into the second tier.
Bairstow ended the series with 394 runs at an average of 78.80 and strike-rate of 120.12, a thrilling example of England’s new era.
New Zealand blown away
New Zealand had no answer to Bairstow on the final day as England’s chase turned into a procession.
It has been a difficult tour for the Black Caps, who have taken a step back since beating England 1-0 a year ago and overcoming India in the World Test Championship final.
They have had to deal with Covid-19 cases and little preparation and the result has been a top order that has been unable to fire. Tom Blundell and Daryl Mitchell were the only members of the top six to average more than 30.
India, ranked second in the world, may prove a sterner Test for England in a one-off Test rearranged from last summer.
In this form, however, England will fear no-one.
‘It has completely flipped’ – what they said
England captain Ben Stokes: “To walk away with a 3-0 win over the best team in the world is very special. The team has been phenomenal. To say that we’ve turned it around so quickly is unbelievable. I’m really happy.
“I don’t know how we’ve won that from 55-6. We’ve said we’ll go out and play a certain way regardless of the situation and it’s worked for us.”
England batter Joe Root: “It has been quite a ride but it has been so much fun and really enjoyable. It is phenomenal to start Ben’s era like that and hopefully we can go from strength to strength from here.”
England limited-overs spinner Moeen Ali: “It is amazing how the fortunes for both teams has changed so quickly because it was only last summer that New Zealand were world champions. England were right at the bottom and it has completely flipped over the course of three weeks.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “The chase was never in doubt. I don’t know anyone who was in the comms corridor or anywhere that doubted that they’d get those runs quickly.”
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson: “In every match we’ve been in positions where we’ve found ourselves ahead of the game and in positions of strength. but credit to England for the way they’ve come out and played the game and counter-attacked.”