Blackcaps v England: UK media reacts to heavy first-test loss to Blackcaps

  • 26/11/2019

England's Cricket World Cup win is long forgotten among the British tabloids.

A crushing innings defeat at the hands of New Zealand has closely followed a failure to regain the Ashes against Australia in October.

Skipper Joe Root has copped the most criticism, with pundits pointing to his dramatic dip in batting form, since inheriting the captaincy from Alistair Cook.

Root averages 40 with the bat as captain - more than 10 runs less than when he was just a batsman. The British press are resigned to a series loss on New Zealand soil for just the third time and they're pulling no punches.

Former England captain Alex Stewart - Sky Sports UK

"I will defend the players when I think I can do, as I know how difficult it is, but I'm sorry, the size of this defeat and the way they played - or didn't play - I can't defend it.

"To lose by an innings and 65 runs on a fifth-day surface that wasn't really that tough, and for [Neil] Wagner to get five wickets and bowl you out - it's not good enough.

"We are not seeing improvements. Under Trevor Bayliss's test regime, it was very much about being positive and counter-attacking.

"Now, [under Chris Silverwood] it's about being patient, batting long and bowling with discipline.

"If you picked a combined XI, Kane Williamson would walk in, but who else would you take from the New Zealand side instead of England's? There wouldn't be that many.

"But they have shown us up, shown us how to play. They stuck to their plans better than us, played in a disciplined manner and had good field placings. 

"They have almost put in a faultless performance."

Ali Martin - The Guardian 

"In all, a grim start to England’s new era pointed to a team some way short of producing remorseless batting displays or taking 20 wickets on flat batting tracks. 

"[Joe] Root’s dismissal an hour into day five rather summed up England’s predicament. They had begun on 55 for three and, given a deficit of 207, did not necessarily require just blocking - runs had a value, too. 

"For a team with attacking instincts, but under new orders to bat time, it all seemed too confusing and on a previously dead surface now starting to play tricks, Root prodded meekly to gully.

"Asked whether his batting has been affected by the captaincy, in a year where he averages 27.4, Root said: 'I’m not looking too deeply into marrying them up together. I’ve had a bit of a rough time, but I’m working extremely hard on it and sometimes it doesn’t always come that easy to you. The fact I’m captain at the same time is an easy excuse to use as a player.'"

Lawrence Booth - Daily Mail 

"Joe Root suggested his side had done 'a lot of good stuff'. Sorry Joe, you're a good guy and, despite your recent slump, you remain England's best batsman. You keep saying all the right things about patience and application, but whatever 'stuff' England produced in this test, very little of it was good - and much of it was downright awful.

"Root now averages below 40 as England captain, as opposed to nearly 53 before he took over. While the likes of Kane Williamson, his opposite number, and India's Virat Kohli moved up a gear after taking charge, Root has gone into reverse. In 2019 alone, he averages 27.

"He denies that the cares of office are affecting his game, but consider this - in one-day internationals, where he is among the rank and file under Eoin Morgan, his average has actually improved since he first led England in a test, from 49 to 55. 

"It is specifically in test cricket, with its non-stop demands on and off the pitch, that he is struggling to fulfil his side of the bargain.

"Since Root took over, England's away record has not bred confidence - eight defeats in 14 tests and only four wins, three against a mediocre Sri Lankan side, the other in the West Indies after the series was already lost.

"While Silverwood beds in, England will argue that change doesn't happen overnight, but that will not wash for long."

Michael Atherton - Sky Sports UK 

"Root wants to showcase the team's new style above his batting instincts - and is being caught in two minds at the crease.

"The slightly concerning thing for me is that the language has all been about a reboot of how England are looking to approach test cricket, ie. slightly more cautiously than under the Bayliss regime," said Atherton.

"The talk was all about 'let's get on the front foot and take it to the bowlers, let's be positive'. "Under Chris Silverwood so far, the chat has been all about 'we're going to dial that down and play a more conservative game'.

"I think that is dangerous for Root, if he feels - as captain - a pressure to lead by example in the way that he plays. I don't think that necessarily suits his game.

"If you watch Root at his best, he is free-flowing. You look up at the scoreboard and before you know it, he's 15 or 20, knocking the ball around and looking to rotate the strike.

"So what we really want to see is Joe Root the batsman rather than Joe Root the captain. "When he walks out to the middle, he's got to put all thoughts of captaincy to one side and that's not easy to do sometimes."

Jonathan Agnew - BBC

"New Zealand have just shown England precisely how to play test cricket.

"It is no coincidence that four years ago in the World Cup, it was also New Zealand who showed England how to play one-day cricket. By beating the tourists by an innings and 65 runs in the first test at Mount Maunganui, they have done it again, this time in the longest format.

"Root made just 13 runs in his two innings - the lowest total he has scored as England captain in a test - and as soon as a batting captain starts to struggle, people start to talk about his position. The worry is he gets so concerned about his batting average that his captaincy suffers or vice-versa.

"He is not batting well at the moment and he's trying a different trigger movement, but got out to two poor shots in this game.He is, however, a fine player and just has to find some form, because when he does, he'll make the opposition pay.

"You just have to hope that it doesn't begin to weigh too heavily on him."

David Lloyd - Daily Mail 

"That was a sobering start for England's new era. It will be alarming for the management - and for English domestic coaches - that their batsmen are technically inferior to New Zealand's

"The evidence? Look at the way BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme and Mitchell Santner defended stoutly, didn't chase the ball and were able to concentrate for long periods. "England were found seriously wanting by comparison."