The visitors made a very positive declaration on the final day but the pitch did not deteriorate as expected
“As we know in Test cricket you have your ebbs and blow but coming into day [five] and having a bit of work to do in that morning session to give ourselves a chance, I thought the guys played some superb cricket throughout to give us that potential opportunity,” Williamson said. “Unfortunately it wasn’t to be today, losing a day to weather doesn’t help the cause but I thought the efforts were certainly there.
“We made the decision based on what gave us potentially the best chance to win the game, or enough overs [to take the wickets]. We knew losing a day was going to be tough but we wanted to give it a crack. Unfortunately towards the end things fizzled out a bit, we were expecting the pitch to deteriorate a bit more and it did show signs on day four in particular that that was going to happen, but it sort of flattened out.”
England would have needed to score at more than 3.5 runs an over to achieve their chase but they took a safety-first approach and ultimately were content to bat out two sessions for a draw – a measure, perhaps, of how dominant New Zealand had been. And even after an 80-run partnership between Dom Sibley and Joe Root seemed to have made the game safe, Williamson’s bowlers kept the pressure on deep into the final hour.
“We declared for a reason and that was to try and push for a victory,” Williamson said. “Although it seemed unlikely for a period, if one spun out of the rough or you were able to open up an end, then things could happen reasonably quickly, and we were holding on to that hope for as long as we could. But clearly things became quite docile out there.
“It’s always tough to know how an opposition will look to attack a chase, obviously all three results still possible. If we were in that positon, you do want to get a really good base and try to take the game to a deep stage where you might have a smaller chase of less overs but throw all your resource at it. Clearly there was a lot of work to do to get to that, a lot of overs left and I think both sides were expecting the pitch to deteriorate more.
“It kind of ebbed and flowed, and scoring wasn’t quick throughout. We felt if we could pick up wickets throughout that would give us the best opportunity and life could be quite difficult, but that wasn’t the case. Things didn’t perhaps unfold for either side.”
In keeping with New Zealand’s respectful off-field demeanour, Williamson played down any suggestion the tourists would carry an advantage with them to Edgbaston, and focused on the need to “start again” and adjust to the conditions in Birmingham.
The arrival of Trent Boult in the UK will only strengthen that area of the side, although the focus will be on building up the left-armer’s workload following a break from the game back home, rather than rushing him back into the side for Edgbaston.
“It was important for Mitch to get out there and bowl and get comfortable and he created a few opportunities, certainly in that first innings, which were potentially game-changing, and we know he can bat really well as well. It would have been nice if things showed a bit more deterioration on the pitch, and from a straighter line, but it was a pretty good surface with a bit in it for everybody.”
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick