England captain Ben Stokes said he had no regrets about enforcing the follow-on after New Zealand defied history to claim a thrilling one-run win in the second test in Wellington.
After New Zealand were bowled out for 209 in reply to England’s declared first-innings total of 435 for eight, Stokes sent the Black Caps in to bat again at the Basin Reserve on day three.
New Zealand put 483 on the board against a tiring English attack on a pitch that proved resilient, setting a target of 258 for victory that England all but chased down on a thrilling day five on Tuesday.
“Imagine captaining in hindsight?” said Stokes, when asked about the follow-on. “That’s nothing that I would ever do.
“It was always our game to lose once we enforced the follow-on.
“But the logic behind it was that our opening bowlers have ripped through their top-order for three innings in a row.
“We knew that New Zealand had to pretty much play the perfect game to put us in a situation like this.”
New Zealand became only the fourth team to win a test after being asked to follow on, leaving the series drawn 1-1.
The loss was just Stokes’s second from 12 tests since taking charge last year.
He said England were disappointed with the outcome but being a part of one of the most gripping matches the game has seen was its own consolation.
“Going down to the last day, being in the situation of that last half an hour – it’s everything you wish for,” he said.
“Even though we came out on the wrong side of it, you can’t help but feel blessed that we’ve managed to be a part of that incredible game.
“It’s disappointing to not win, obviously. But we look at the bigger picture of what everyone’s enjoyed and seen here today.
“It’s probably bigger than the disappointment at the moment.”
Stokes’s knee remains a concern, and he was in obvious discomfort despite facing 116 balls in his knock of 33 on Tuesday.
He said he had no plans to withdraw from the Indian Premier League to recuperate before the Ashes in the home summer.
“I’m not going to lie. It is very frustrating knowing that I’ve got something holding me back in terms of my body,” he said.
“It’s been around for a while … but we’re doing everything we possibly can to allow me to fulfil that fourth-seamer role, like I was able to do two or three years ago.
“Hopefully, come the Ashes, I don’t have to worry about it.”