Bairstow was due to keep wicket – with captain Jos Buttler rested – but did not emerge for the second innings due to a sore shoulder. Bairstow explained his absence as “precautionary” because of the “important cricket coming up”, and was not even sure how he picked the injury up.
The first 10 overs of the game were dominated by Bairstow’s blade. At times, especially when Matt Henry was being launched into the stands from the Ratcliffe Road End, there was a bit of that extraordinary Bazball-launching assault 15 months ago.
A ball into the 11th over, England were 105 for one, and well-placed for a score well beyond New Zealand’s reach. But the Black Caps’ spinners were making a nuisance of themselves on a pitch with turn and hold, and wickets fell steadily, mainly caught on the fence, just like in the defeat in Birmingham on Sunday. Edgbaston, though, is a much bigger playing area, with this performance adding to the sense that some of England’s six-hitters are not the force they once were. Mitchell Santner picked up three, including Malan and stand-in skipper Moeen Ali in his final over.
With Buttler and Gus Atkinson rested, England had packed the side with spin options. But only the sparky stripling, Rehan Ahmed, playing an international on home soil – in his hometown, no less – threatened the way New Zealand’s had. Ahmed showed off his all-round promise, launching a beautiful six over long-on in a brief cameo, then completed a smart run-out of Daryl Mitchell started by brilliant work from Luke Wood in the deep.
And with the ball, he was the only man with an answer to Tim Seifert and Glenn Phillips, who provided the backbone of their successful chase. Seifert fell to a sharp caught and bowled, while Phillips miscued seeking his fourth six. Adil Rashid, the master to the apprentice Ahmed, endured a tough night, taking none for 41, including some tap from Mark Chapman, who saw New Zealand home. England started the game so well, but faded. The same could be said of the series.
“Definitely disappointing,” said Mott, who was determined to take positives: “Rehan’s performance, the pace of Gus Atkinson and Brydon Carse, another opportunity for Moeen to lead, and of course Brook.” Next up, are a series of “vital ODIs”, where the real World Cup prep begins.