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England sets sights on South Africa after wrapping up NZ series 2-0 with easy win

England sets sights on South Africa after wrapping up NZ series 2-0 with easy win

England has comprehensively beaten New Zealand in back-to-back test series. Now it prepares for the real examination of its new-look lineup when South Africa visits in July.
England clinched a 2-0 series win Sunday by winning the third test against New Zealand by an innings and nine runs before lunch on the fourth day at Trent Bridge, after forcing the tourists to follow on.
After England recovered from 86-5 on the opening day with a 115 from Kevin Pietersen to reach 364, James Anderson's swing bowling helped skittle New Zealand for 123, earning him test-best figures of 7-43.
New Zealand showed greater resilience in its second innings but, despite Brendon McCullum's 71, could only muster 232.
The Black Caps started Sunday on 177-5, but Ryan Sidebottom took four dismissals to finish with 6-67, while Anderson picked up the final wicket to finish with match figures of 9-98.
"I never envisaged winning by an innings, but full credit to the way we've played our cricket," England captain Michael Vaughan said. "The catching was very, very good in this game as well.
"The win here suggests that we've got better as the series goes on. There are areas to improve and the South Africa series will be the ultimate test of where we're at."
After rallying to win the test series in New Zealand 2-1 in March _ its first overseas series victory in three years _ England drew the rain-affected first test at Lord's and staged a comeback to win the second test at Old Trafford.
The Trent Bridge lineup was the fifth time that England had played with the same test team for the first time since 1885.
"We've won four out of five now and in every one of those wins, I think we've got better and better in each game," Vaughan said. "You do start to get better the more you play together."
The lineup was settled after England dropped Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard after losing the first test in Hamilton, New Zealand.
But England is ready to alter that lineup _ allrounder Andrew Flintoff is on schedule to return in time for the first test against South Africa at Lord's starting July 10.
Flintoff was ruled out of the New Zealand series after developing a side strain while playing for his county Lancashire. He hasn't played test cricket for England since the 5-0 series loss to Australia in January 2007 because of various injuries.
"I certainly hope he'll get his side (strain) right in the next couple of weeks and get enough cricket and be confident in himself, in his form, that he can take on the South Africans," Vaughan said.
While Vaughan was satisfied with the win, he acknowledged England had to bat better. It's now 12 tests that England hasn't got past 400 in its first innings and needed Pietersen's 161-run sixth-wicket partnership with Tim Ambrose to salvage its first innings from crisis.
"A sign of a good team is getting out of them (crises), but a sign of a really good team is not getting in those positions in the first place," Vaughan said. "That's the next step. That's the area we can improve on. We're a pretty young side developing."
Next up is a Twenty20 international on Friday at Old Trafford, followed by five one-day internationals starting June 15.
New Zealand is hoping for a better performance and a repeat of its 3-1 one-day series win in February.
"We're a lot more confident in that form of the game, maybe because it's shorter and we don't have to perform for those prolonged periods," captain Daniel Vettori said. "We beat them convincingly back home and we've got to make sure we do that here to get anything out of this tour."
It was New Zealand's first series loss without now retired former captain Stephen Fleming.
"We were able to compete for a period of time but we were unable to compete the whole five days," Vettori said. "If you look back at the last six test matches, the only time we've been able to do that was in Hamilton and we won.
"Unfortunately every other time, we weren't able to keep up with the pace of England. I suppose it's a lack of ability on our part, perhaps a lack of fortitude as well."


Updated : 2021-03-06 01:37 GMT+08:00