New Zealand vs England 2nd Test – Ben Stokes is everything you want in the last half hour.

England captain Ben Stokes insisted his side’s pride in playing in one of the most thrilling Tests of all time outweighed his disappointment at the final result, which saw his team win six Tests in a row. The series has ended. An incredible one-run defeat against New Zealand in Wellington.

A packed crowd at Basin Reserve had been invited by Cricket New Zealand for free in anticipation of an exciting final, and both teams did not disappoint. In a thrilling final day, England lost four quick wickets in the first hour and settled for a seemingly match-changing sixth-wicket stand between Stokes and Joe Root, only for Neil Wagner’s short ball to open the game. For the grand finale.

“It’s right there,” Stokes said. “Going into the final day, being in that final half-hour situation … it’s everything you aspire to be.” Even though we came out on the wrong side of it, you can’t help but feel lucky that we managed. To be a part of this incredible sport.

“Obviously it’s disappointing not to win. But we look at the bigger picture that everyone enjoyed and saw here today. It’s probably bigger than the disappointment at the moment.”

One of Stokes’ stated aims since taking over England captaincy has been to maximize entertainment, risking losing games to win them. This policy has paid handsome dividends over the past year, particularly in Pakistan before Christmas when England’s attacking instincts turned the series on, most memorably in the first Test in Rawalpindi.

“Obviously we have a big goal,” he added. “I don’t want people to get mixed up, [because] That doesn’t mean we don’t get upset if we don’t win or lose. Obviously, we always want to win. It’s very disappointing to lose, but you can’t help but be excited that we’ve been a part of a game like this.”

Apart from only the second one-run win in Test history, it was the fourth time a team had won a Test despite being called to follow-on, after West Indies’ victory over Australia in Adelaide in 1992–93. On the most recent occasion, the Kolkata Test in 2000–01, the turning point of the match was arguably Stokes’ decision to impose the follow-on, when New Zealand were bundled out for 210 on the third morning.

But the man himself had no regrets about his call, even though New Zealand’s second innings of 483 – built around a stunning century from player of the match Kane Williamson – meant his bowlers were forced to leave the field. I bowled more than 215 consecutive overs.

“Imagine the captaincy in hindsight?” They said. “It’s nothing I would ever do.

“Our game was always that when we implemented the follow-on, we lost,” he added. “But the logic behind it was that our opening bowlers had ripped through their top order in three consecutive innings. We knew that New Zealand would have to play a pretty good game to put us in that situation.”

In England’s home summer, Stokes’ men had chased down successive targets of 277, 299 and 296 against New Zealand, followed by 358 against India, and so despite his firm hold on the field, Stokes insisted that the target is around 258 this time. , did not let his team down.

“Chasing 250 while batting in the last innings is something we never worried about,” he said. “But give New Zealand a lot of credit, not just the way they played in the second innings, but the way they bowled and were able to get quick wickets without putting too many runs on the board.

“So in terms of looking back and making my own decision about the follow-on, no, I don’t regret it. Other teams are allowed to play better than us and New Zealand have played better than us this week.”

England’s next Test assignment is the Ashes starting in June, and they are bound to head into the series with confidence after four wins from five this winter, but one area of ​​concern is Stokes’ own fitness. He was in obvious pain due to a sore left knee, both during the two-over gap in the second innings, and for the duration of his second innings, a 116-ball 33 that was shorthanded by Wagner. Ended with an off-balance pull against ball.

Before the series starts in June, Stokes is due to play one season of the IPL with Chennai Super Kings – which he could leave early to prepare for the Ashes – but he said he would not want to withdraw at this stage. There is no intention, instead hoping that the intense workload of less T20 cricket will give him more time to come off the field.

“I’m not sure at all,” he said, when asked how his knee was feeling. “We’re probably three or four months away from getting to the Ashes and we’ve worked incredibly hard with our physios and medical experts to get everything right strength-wise.

“But it was very difficult to get out here, especially once the Tests started, because the games came thick and fast. But in India it’s a good opportunity to put myself in a position where I feel I don’t have to worry about my knee now.

“I’m not going to lie. It’s been very disappointing to find out that I have something that’s holding me back physically. It’s been a while. It’s frustrating, but we’re doing everything we can. Allow me to play that fourth-seamer role, as I was able to do two or three years ago.

Andrew Miller is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

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