A dynamic burst of four wickets in 21 balls by Darren Gough, gave England a dramatic last day victory over New Zealand in Wellington yesterday. Starting the day 134 runs in arrears, New Zealand were blown away as Gough recorded his best ever match figures in a Test match, his 9 for 92, beating the previous best he set in Sydney two winter's ago.
Winning can prove an elusive habit, but when you have someone as blessed as Gough in your side, it is one that England increasingly look like finding, particularly against opposition as meekly compliant as New Zealand. The 26-year old Yorkshireman's happy knack of taking wickets put England on the brink of putting their Auckland nightmare behind them and Andy Caddick wrapped up the tail shortly after lunch today.
Unlike Auckland, where the last pair denied England victory, the Basin Reserve pitch was never likely to be so batsman friendly, and once the new ball was taken it was a matter of when rather than if, England would record their first overseas win since the Adelaide Test two years ago.
More strikingly was the fact that this was only the third overseas Test win of Michael Atherton's captaincy, and his ninth in all during his 39 Tests in charge. It is not a sparkling record, but it is one that has not been much bettered since the Mike Brearley era, when Botham and Willis were crucial factors in the side's success.
The day had begun in gloomy fashion with a thirty second silence for the six victims of the Raurima massacre, a tragedy that has touched and saddened the nation. Fine drizzle did not help to lighten the mood and although the start was delayed by 30 minutes, it was time that could be made up at the end.
Opening with the spinners that served him so well on Sunday, Atherton was quick to attack with men crowding the bat. It was a tactic that had paid handsome dividends for Croft the previous evening and one that nearly caused Blair Pocock to play on.
Pocock had just brought up a five-hour fifty when he swept at Croft. In the silence you can sometimes hear between heartbeats, 11 Englishman watched as the ball gently looped of the batsman's glove and nudged the off-stump. Unfortunately for Croft the bails stayed put, causing widespread speculation as to whether umpire Doug Cowie had used the heavy bails - such a feature of windy Wellington - after an earlier gust had dislodged them. Certainly they were a darker shade than the ones sitting atop the stumps at the other end.
With the new ball being taken after 25 minutes play, New Zealand's predicament began to look precarious as Caddick, in particular, got some extravagant movement off the seam. Nevertheless it needed a further change with Gough replacing Cork before the wickets began to fall. Roaring in from the Adelaide Road end, he immediately forced Lee Germon into playing on, ending the New Zealand's captains'plucky hour-long stay at the crease. Five balls later, he removed the viscid Pocock with a long-hop that the batsman slashed to Nick Knight at second slip.
The momentum clearly lifted Gough, who then removed Nathan Astle with one that brought an astounding catch from Alec Stewart, who took it diving one-handed in front of his Surrey team-mate, Graham Thorpe, at first slip.
Knight then added to his tally at second slip as Simon Doull flashed at Gough's outswinger
After some token post-lunch resistance it was Caddick this time who broke the deadlock, first with a perfect yorker that left Geoff Allott's stumps in disarray and finally with a snorter to get rid of Cairns, whio was agains well caught by Knight at second slip.
New Zealand won toss
NEW ZEALAND - First innings 124 (D Gough 5-40, A R Caddick 4-45).
ENGLAND - First innings 383 (G P Thorpe 108, N Hussain 64, J P Crawley 56; S B Doull 5-75).
NEW ZEALAND - Second innings
(Overnight: 125 for 4)
B A Pocock c Knight b Gough 64
*L K Germon b Gough 11
N J Astle c Stewart b Gough 4
C L Cairns c Knight b Caddick 22
S B Doull c Knight b Gough 0
G I Allott b Caddick 2
D L Vettori not out 2
Extras (b5, lb4, nb6) 15
Total ( 73 overs) 191
Fall cont: 5-161 (Germon), 6-164 (Pocock), 7-175 (Astle), 8-175 (Doull), 9- (), 10- ().
Bowling: Cork 10-1-42-0; Caddick 27.2-11-40-2; Croft 20-9-19-3; Gough 23-9-52-4; Tufnell 23-9-29-1.
Umpires: S A Bucknor (WI) and D B Cowie.
TV replay umpire: E A Watkin.
Match referee: P J Burge.