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International Cricket - Cricket: Five Things We Learned from the Second Test

England sealed a stunning final-day victory over New Zealand in the second Test at Trent Bridge on Tuesday, reaching their 299 target from exactly 50 overs in a match that will live long in the memory.

With an electric atmosphere in Nottingham generated by a packed crowd taking advantage of free tickets, England won by five wickets to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. Here's what we learned.

1. McCullum era off to fine start

Brendon McCullum's appointment as England's new Test coach last month was met with almost universal acclaim. The ambitious New Zealander has a reputation for positivity and has previously spoken about the importance of generating a good team spirit and atmosphere behind the scenes so players can be relaxed and produce their best.

His approach is already paying off, judging by the first two Tests of his reign. Perhaps it's no surprise the man who has scored the fastest-ever Test century ever demanded England go out and attack on the final day, with trying to shut up shop and securing a dull draw clearly just not his way of doing things.

2. Bairstow's time to shine

Jonny Bairstow only managed 17 runs in the first Test at Lord's and then followed that up with a meagre eight in the first innings at Trent Bridge. However, arriving at the crease in the second innings, he produced one of the finest ever batting displays from an England player, pummelling 136 from 92 balls, a sensational knock that included 14 fours and seven sixes.

The Yorkshireman played the final day of the Test like a one-day or T20 innings, with his remarkable exploits after tea taking him to a century from just 77 balls, missing out on the England record of 76 balls for the quickest ton ever that has stood for 120 years.

Bairstow's attacking instincts and big-hitting ability have never been in doubt but this was his time to shine. He could be a hugely influential player in the new McCullum era.

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3. Root back to his sublime best

Stepping down as Test captain earlier this year looks to have allowed Joe Root to focus more on his batting. His performance in the second Test, when he struck 176 in the first innings - his fourth century of 2022 - has helped him return to the top of the men's batting Test rankings, overtaking Australia's Marnus Labuschagne.

Root's impressive Trent Bridge score followed on from a knock of 115 not out in the first Test and added to scores of 109 and 153 in the first and second Tests of the tour of West Indies earlier this year.

Even though he's no longer skipper, Root remains arguably the most important member of the squad, so reliable has he become at finding the big scores when his country needs him the most.

4. Slow over-rate still a problem

Amid all the deserved praise coming England's way since the spectacular win, it also emerged they have been fined 40 per cent of their match fee and docked two Test Championship points for a slow over-rate at Trent Bridge.

The hosts fell two overs short of the target after time allowances were taken into account so the ICC decided to hit them with the punishment. It means that instead of being on 42 points in the World Test Championship standings, they now sit down in a disappointing eighth place on 40 points instead.

It's obviously not as important as getting the right overall result but it's not something McCullum or skipper Ben Stokes will want a repeat of in the third and final Test of the series.

The match gets underway at Headingley on 23rd June, when England are 10/11 to wrap up a series whitewash, NZ are 9/4 to win and the draw is 10/3.

5. New Zealand struggles continue

With the focus understandably being on England's pulsating victory, it's gone a bit under the radar that New Zealand's form has dipped alarmingly. The Kiwis have been poor since winning the inaugural Test Championship with victory over India a year ago.

The Black Caps have won just two of their last eight Tests and drew series' at home to both South Africa and Bangladesh earlier this year.

In the past 12 months, Ross Taylor and BJ Watling have retired, Colin de Grandhomme has had his injury problems, while losing skipper and talisman Kane Williamson the day before the second Test due to illness was a difficult late blow to take.

Add in opener Tom Latham's ongoing struggles with the bat and the questionable decision to leave experienced left-arm seamer Neil Wagner out of the line-up for the second Test and there are plenty of problems for the tourists to address. 

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