England’s first outing in the Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum era ended with a 3-0 whitewash of New Zealand at home. Here’s a look at the players who made it to our combined XI of the series.
169 runs @ 28.16, HS: 67
The England opener might not have registered big scores, but blunted off the new ball through the series, facing a total of 338 deliveries in six innings. He showed great potential on the tour of the West Indies as well, and it finally seems that one-half of England’s opening woes have finally come to an end.
121 runs @ 20.16, HS: 76
Latham, who can already be counted as one of New Zealand’s great Test batters, had an under-par series with the bat, but his 76 off 100 balls in the third Test allows him to make this XI. Trailing by 31 runs, the Kiwi opener played a counterattacking knock with 12 fours, which laid the foundation for the lower middle order.
267 runs @ 44.50, HS: 145
Pope averaged 21.64 in 2021, and accumulated 36 runs in his first four innings in 2022, including scores of 7 and 10 in the first Test against New Zealand. With heightened scrutiny over his spot in the XI, Pope went on to shut detractors in style, scoring 145 with his team in trouble in the second Test, up against New Zealand’s first innings score of 553. He followed it up with a 108-ball 82 at Leeds to cap off a successful series.
396 runs @ 99, HS: 176
The merry run-making continues for Root, the former skipper, who now has four Test hundreds in eight matches this year, and ended as England’s highest run-scorer in the series. His run-tally did not create waves as much as his batting approach did: he batted with a strike rate of 74.15, the best that he has had in any series in his career. He also surprised fans with two uncharacteristic reverse scoops for six in the series.
394 runs @ 78.80, HS: 162
Bairstow can be termed the biggest game-changer in the series, ending two runs short of Root’s tally, and striking at a whopping 120.12. His 77-ball hundred, the second-fastest for England, at Nottingham helped them hunt down 299 in only 50 overs. He carried on in the final match as well, stroking an unbeaten 71 at a strike rate of 161.36 in the fourth innings en route to a series sweep. Overall, Bairstow scored 233 runs in the fourth innings of the series, at a strike rate of 147.68.
538 runs @ 107.60, HS: 190
Mitchell, who had one hundred before the series began, added three more to his tally, in what could potentially be a career-turning tour for him. He stuck around for 1,067 balls at the crease in six innings, the most by any batter, and scored three tons, also the most any player from either side could register. The only time he did not reach a half-century was in the second innings at Lord’s. He won the Player of the Series award, ending as the only batter from either side to cross 400 runs.
383 runs @ 76.60, HS: 106
Blundell notched up four century stands with Mitchell, remarkably making up for the lack of form of the top order. Overall, the duo scored 724 runs together, the tenth-most any pair has made in a bilateral Test series. Blundell also saw off 771 deliveries this series, commendably mixing caution with run-scoring when needed.
16 wickets @ 28.93, BBI: 5-106
The speedster was the only Kiwi bowler to have picked up 10 or more wickets in the series, snaring at least a wicket on five of his six outings. He got his team into the game in the third Test, taking the first three wickets with the new ball, but New Zealand’s fortunes could have been different if he had more support from the other end.
11 wickets @ 18.63, BBI: 4-66
The veteran missed the third Test due to an injury, but left his mark in the first two Tests, picking up 11 scalps on his comeback. He especially troubled Latham, dismissing him thrice in four innings, and ended with the best bowling average from both sides.
13 wickets @ 30.15, BBI: 5-66
Leach was the Player of the Match in the third Test for taking a ten-wicket haul in the match, only the fourth time an English spinner has achieved the feat at home since 2000. It overshadowed two lacklustre outings in the first two games, where he picked up three wickets at an average of 75.33.
14 wickets @ 23.28, BBI: 4-13
The 23-year-old had a memorable debut series, ending as England’s highest wicket-taker. He caught eyeballs right from the start, as he picked up three wickets in the morning session on day one at Lord’s to leave New Zealand stuttering at 39-6. He stuck to his line and lengths, and his economy rate of 2.59 – the best among all bowlers – further suggested how tight he kept things.