England coach Trevor Bayliss made no excuses for his players and conceded it was the lowest point of England’s winter when they were rolled for 58 by New Zealand, worse than anything “on the scoreboard” in the Ashes, when their lowest total against Australia was 180 in Sydney.
Without Craig Overton slogging an unbeaten 33, England would have been dismissed for the lowest total in Test history, less than the 26 scored by New Zealand against England in 1954-55. Overton’s hitting dominated a last-wicket stand that raised England from 27 for nine to their sixth lowest total.
“It was a very poor effort today – it wasn’t good enough. I thought New Zealand bowled extremely well and we batted equally as badly,” Bayliss said, and admitted he could not believe what was happening.
A more artful or political coach would have tried to blame the pink ball as the cause of England’s humiliation - this is New Zealand’s first day/night Test at home - but that is not Bayliss’s style. Instead, when asked if he was embarrassed, Bayliss openly admitted: “Certainly, and I probably wasn’t the only one in the England change-room either.”
Earlier on this New Zealand leg of England’s tour Bayliss had publicly said he would be willing to divide the head coach’s job into two roles - one person in charge of the Test side, another in charge of the 50- and 20-over side - and this latest collapse might increase his willingness to concentrate on the white-ball sides and winning the 2019 World Cup before he retires. England did very well to beat Australia 4-1 and New Zealand 3-2 in the one-day series but do not appear to be progressing in Tests.
“I thought we made a lot of mistakes today with our footwork,” Bayliss added. “The ball was swinging a little bit but when the ball’s pitched up, when it’s full, it’s as simple as it gets - you’ve got to play forward. A lot of our guys were out today from behind the crease to fairly full balls. It looked like we were rabbits in headlights.”
Bayliss did not blame England’s brief build-up to this two-Test series either, though it was limited to a week in Hamilton. “The first game the boys were a bit rusty - some of the boys had been home for a few weeks. The second game was better. Look, if it was the perfect build-up, it might have been nice to play another game or so but that’s just the way it is in international cricket these days.”
“We’ve been on the other side of scores like that and it’s euphoria. This is the opposite. Someone sneezes and the rest of the guys catch a cold, don’t they? Everyone was making the same type of mistakes – feet not moving properly, decision-making not as it normally is.
“It wasn’t good enough. It’s definitely frustrating that’s for sure. We’ll have to sit down and have a good chat about it. Is it a mental approach, is it something in our preparation? Are we good enough at working out how to play when we do lose wickets? We’ll sit down and discuss that before the next innings and hopefully that innings is a lot better. Look, we’ve got to take it on the chin, go away, talk about it, work out what we can do better and get in the nets and work hard at it.”
Bayliss could even have blamed Ben Stokes’s back injury for England’s poor performance - a specialist batsman in James Vince was dropped to make space for Stokes, who was then unable to bowl when New Zealand batted - but again he did not take the option of an easy target.
“When he [Stokes] went back off the full run putting in fully, he could just feel it. He said it was a lot better than it was, so we’re hopeful it won’t be too much longer and he’ll be right to go. He’s been an important part of our batting line-up for a while and one of our better players and everyone enjoys him being around.”
Bayliss paid tribute to Stuart Broad who took his 400th Test wicket when Tom Latham clipped a catch to mid-wicket. “It’s a testament not just to his skill but his longevity and how hard he’s worked at his game over a long period of time now,” Bayliss said. “The wickets probably haven’t come his way the last six to 12 months but he’s bowled better than his figures have suggested at times. I think the way he’s bowled the last couple of games he’s got a lot of wickets in front of him.” But New Zealand still passed England’s first innings total for the loss of only one wicket.