England captain Ben Stokes feels blessed to be involved in a dramatic and high-quality game of cricket that his side lost by just one run, saying the enjoyment of being part of the thriller has outweighed the disappointment of losing the second Test.
New Zealand defeated England by one run in a sensational finish at the Basin Reserve on Tuesday to level the two-match series 1-1.
It is only the fourth occasion in Test history that a team, forced to follow-on, has gone on to win the match, with the previous occasions being England in 1894 and 1981, and India in 2001.
“It’s disappointing to not win, obviously. But we look at the bigger picture of what everyone’s enjoyed and seen here today. It’s probably bigger than the disappointment at the moment,” said Stokes, who tasted a rare defeat since taking over as captain last year.
“It’s very disappointing to lose, but you can’t help but be excited that we’ve been a part of a game like that.” “It’s right up there. Going down to the last day, being in the situation of that last half an hour … it’s everything you wish for. Even though we came out on the wrong side of it, you can’t help but feel blessed that we’ve managed to be a part of that incredible game,” added the all-rounder, who has won 10 Tests out of the 12 he has captained after taking over from Joe Root.
The 31-year-old added that the gamut of emotions his team — and also the opposing side — went through was incredible, and gave spectators the thrills they were craving for.
“That game is what Test cricket is about, it was just incredible. The emotions we were going through and obviously the Kiwi boys out there as well. Was incredible to be involved in such a Test match. Everyone’s got their money worth.” The match came down to the last man standing at the crease.
England bowling stalwart James Anderson smashed a boundary off Neil Wagner, which left England two runs shy of scoring a series victory.
But in a dramatic moment, Anderson was caught on the leg side by a diving Tome Blundell to signal the Blackcaps’ win.
“Disappointing to end on a loss but four (wins) out of five away from home is something we will take great pride in. A few months off and get back to what we love doing,” said Stokes.
England made a clean sweep of the three-Test series in Pakistan and won the opening Test in New Zealand, making it four away wins in five games.
Stokes added he did not regret the decision to enforce the follow-on after the hosts had been bundled out for 209 in response to England’s 435/8 declared.
The hosts put up a superb 483 in the second essay to give England a competitive 258-run winnings target.
“It was always our game to lose once we enforced the follow-on. But the logic behind it (enforcing follow-on) 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,” added Stokes.
“Batting in the last innings, chasing 250 is something that we were never worried about. But give huge credit to New Zealand, not only to the way that they played in the second innings, but also the way that they bowled and managed to get very early wickets with not too many runs on the board. So in terms of looking back and making my decision around the follow-on, No, I don’t regret it.”