New Zealand, who changed six players from the First Test draw, were without their captain, best batter, wicketkeeper, and two members of their first-choice bowling attack. This was their first series win in England this century.
They look in rude health heading into the World Test Championship final against India on Friday. Their biggest problem for that game is who to leave out.
England are missing players too, but have been guilty of shooting themselves in the foot by overthinking a complicated and busy year of cricket, resting players who could have helped them here. They are obsessed with the Ashes, but have forgotten that their best hopes of winning that series is to create a winning habit in the months before. They have been out-batted, out-bowled, out-fielded, and out-selected by New Zealand.
England lost their 10th wicket to the very first ball of the day, which was delivered before the scheduled start of 11am. An hour later, the game was over.
Olly Stone, having gallantly survived more than 100 balls in the match, tamely edged Trent Boult behind. So if you turned up on time, you missed England bat.
New Zealand, obviously, had little trouble chasing a target of 38. They had a cool 177 overs to complete the chase across two days, but required fewer than 11.
There was time for Stuart Broad to have Devon Conway caught behind, and Stone to bowl Will Young, but skipper Tom Latham saw New Zealand home without fuss. They were in no rush, respecting some decent bowling from Broad and James Anderson. Latham’s patience gave the crowd of around 4,000 – most of whom had turned up for a sharpening session ahead of the afternoon’s football – something to watch, at least.
These were merely the last rites and there was little England’s bowlers – who have not been bad this series – could do.
The problem has been the batting, with Saturday’s collapse the most grievous failing. When the in-form Rory Burns failed, the rest of England’s top order followed, and only some tonk from Mark Wood helped them overturn their first innings deficit of 88.
Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope have struggled throughout the series, while there is pressure on Dom Sibley and, to a lesser extent, Dan Lawrence, too. It will be a while before James Bracey is seen at this level again, especially as a wicketkeeper. Of the 33 wickets England lost in the series, England made nine ducks.