It was a bizarre dismissal – and, after Colin de Grandhomme’s no-ball spared Ben Stokes during England’s run chase at Lord’s, and New Zealand dropping a spate of catches at Trent Bridge before Jonny Bairstow sealed an astounding final day victory, added to the sense that, under Brendon McCullum, England are getting all the breaks.
As Nicholls trudged off in disbelief, England could toast a crucial blow: the end of a 40-run stand for the fifth wicket that threatened to justify New Zealand’s decision to bat first. Leach’s fortuitous wicket left New Zealand 123 for five at tea.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, back after missing the second test because of Covid-19, won the toss and elected to bat first on a flattish pitch, but England have seized the initiative.
New Zealand will be kicking themselves after every batsman apart from the struggling Latham got in on a good batting wicket but failed to go on, although in Nicholls’ case there was very little he could do as luck shone on a buoyant England.
England are seeking to win every match of a home series with at least three Tests for the first time since beating India 4-0 in 2011.