Brendon McCullum says England have not become a bad team overnight after they were thrashed by South Africa in the first Test at Lord's.

England had started a new era under head coach McCullum and captain Ben Stokes by whitewashing New Zealand 3-0 and beating India in a rearranged match at Edgbaston to draw the series.

They were brought crashing back down to earth six weeks after that win over India, as the tourists hammered them by an innings and 12 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

England were thrashed inside three days, failing to live with a potent Proteas pace attack in a one-side match that saw them fold to 165 all out in the first innings and only 149 in the second.

McCullum says they must take the chastening defeat on the chin and hit back at Old Trafford next week.

"South Africa deserved the victory. We have a little bit of work to do, but you don't go from being a good team to a bad one overnight." the former New Zealand skipper told Sky Sports.

McCullum felt if anything England were too "timid' rather than overly aggressive.

He said: "It was the type of wicket that the boys reflected that you get in, then you got a cracking delivery from nowhere. I thought our approach was alright

"I think over the last four wins we've had there have been times where we have been behind then able to absorb it and turn it back on the opposition. We couldn't do that today.

"As we said at the outset, you have to buckle up for the ride. We'll come back stronger."

McCullum added: "The wicket was challenging at times and some of the balls were too good for us. If anything I thought some of the dismissals were a bit timid today. We won't overreact after this."

Alex Lees and Stuart Broad top scored with 35 apiece. The hostile pace quartet of Anrich Nortje (3-47), Kagiso Rabada (2-27), Marco Jansen (2-13) and Lungi Ngidi (1-15) tore through England after spinner Keshav Maharaj took 2-35 on Friday.

England men's managing director Rob Key could not foresee Ben Stokes' Test captaincy starting in such a promising fashion.

Stokes and Brendon McCullum were appointed as the new captain-coach combination following April's resignation of Joe Root, who had won just one of his past 17 Tests as skipper.

The new leadership duo have restored interest in the five-day game, with their enthralling and attacking approach to red-ball cricket enticing crowds up and down the country.

England started their new era with a 3-0 series whitewash over world Test champions New Zealand, chasing scores of over 250 on each occasion, but saved their best for the rescheduled clash with India.

McCullum's side were set 378 to win by India at Edgbaston and England duly obliged, completing their highest Test chase with relative ease to record a memorable seven-wicket victory.

South Africa are the next to visit in a three-Test series before England tour Pakistan in the longest format of the game, and Key cannot believe the start Stokes has made to life as captain.

"I never thought it would work like this," Key told BBC Test Match Special. "There will be times when it won't work, but for now it's been fantastic to see."

McCullum has previously lamented the use of the term 'Bazball', referencing the New Zealand great's willingness to embrace an attacking approach, and Key suggested he is also uneasy with the phrase.

"I'm not mad on Bazball the phrase," Key added. "It's not something I particularly enjoy because it devalues what Ben and Brendon have done.

"They've been so premeditated almost and methodical in the way they've spoken to people and that's what's made the difference and let them get to this point which is so much more than, 'Oh, we're just going to go out there and look to be positive and play a few shots'.

"Brendon will at times on purpose say to one of the players like Ollie Pope 'I can't get to the ground, give us a lift' and that's when he's doing his work with them.

"There have been all these moments when they have made sure that they've used the right terminology and that's what's bred the confidence."

Key was tasked with transforming English cricket after his appointment as managing director, and his first steps to appoint McCullum appeared somewhat a risk.

McCullum boasted coaching experience in franchise cricket with the Kolkata Knight Riders and Trinbago Knight Riders, yet he had never been in charge of a first-class side despite captaining New Zealand.

"I saw it as though I had two choices," Key added. "Did the England team, the Test team in particular, need someone who was going to be like a drill sergeant, a real hard taskmaster who's going to be really tough on them and try and drive them in that way?

"I felt they needed someone to just take the pressure off them a little bit. I wanted someone who, with the talented players that we had, just freed them up a bit and got them out there to be the best players they possibly can be."

Ben Stokes has taken Test cricket by storm with his attacking approach to captaining England, but the all-rounder must value his wicket more.

That is the message from former England batter Kevin Pietersen, who hailed the start Stokes has made as skipper, winning each of his first four Tests.

Stokes and Brendon McCullum have restored interest in the five-day game, with their aggressive intent in the longest format resulting in a series whitewash of New Zealand and victory over India.

In each of those victories, England have chased down scores of more than 275 runs and they saved their best until last with a seven-wicket win over India, completing their highest Test chase of 378 with ease.

Yorkshire duo Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root have been the standout performers for McCullum's side, and Pietersen believes the attitude of Stokes is refreshing for the England set-up and cricket in general.

"They're doing something incredible. The last few run chases, pretty much record-breaking. I have been watching it in astonishment," Pietersen said after playing the Old Course, St Andrews ahead of the 150th Open Championship.

"We were all astonished by Ben Stokes winning the toss and saying, 'we'll chase'. I mean, I'd never heard of that in my life. I was standing with Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain, and we were like, 'did he just say that?'

"No one's ever said that before and, fair play, if you're going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. The wickets have been very good, so they've been able to do that.

"Can you do that in India on day three, day four of a Test match? I'm not so sure but I think these guys are good enough.

"And if they play with that freedom, of spirit and mind, they can achieve some cool things. I'm all in to watch how it goes."

Stokes has courted criticism for embodying England's approach too excessively after somewhat cheap dismissals against New Zealand and India, though, and Pietersen urged for caution from the captain.

"The only thing I do see and want to see is that he does value his wicket a little more than then what I saw in Birmingham, he's too good a player to slog it straight in the air," he added.

"He's too good a player to do that. Just have a look at how Bairstow played has played with freedom of spirit, freedom of mind.

"He accessed all areas of the ground and he puts so much pressure on the opposition. I just think Ben is better than that, and I'm sure he'll accept that, and he'll know that I just want to see him flourishing."

Bairstow has set the benchmark for 'Bazball', an endearing term for McCullum's attacking approach that the New Zealand legend is not too great a fan of.

The 32-year-old scored the second-fastest Test hundred for England at Trent Bridge before reaching three figures in three of his next four innings, the only exception being a rapid 71 not out at Headingley.

His unbeaten 114 against India marked his sixth century of 2022, which is the most by a player while batting at number five or lower in a calendar year and joint-most by an England batter in the same time period (level with Root), and Pietersen backed Bairstow to continue playing freely.

"There's no real pressure because he's not being frowned upon by the powers that be, he is being asked by the senior management to play that way," he continued.

"I think it's a privilege to be able to go out there and just express yourself. The balls up, just give it a smack and everybody says instead of smacking it that hard, I want you to smack it harder – awesome, no pressure."

Brendon McCullum says his England side are about much more than aggressive cricket, labelling the term 'Bazball' "silly" as he responded to Steve Smith's comments about the team's revival.

England have looked reinvigorated since McCullum and Ben Stokes took over as red-ball coach and captain respectively.

They have posted three of their highest-ever run chases in their last three Tests after a remarkable victory over India at Edgbaston.

Having whitewashed world champions New Zealand 3-0, England completed a 378-run chase against India on Tuesday, drawing the teams' delayed series and sparking new levels of excitement among fans.

'Bazball' – the term coined to describe England's aggressive style under the New Zealander – has won near-universal praise, but the coach himself says it does not do justice to their displays.

"I don't really like that silly term that people are throwing out there," he told Australian radio station SEN. 

"Because there's actually quite a bit of thought that goes into how the guys manufacture their performances and when they put pressure on bowlers and which bowlers they put pressure on. 

"There's also times where they've absorbed pressure beautifully as well."

Former Australia skipper Steve Smith is among those yet to be convinced by England's style, recently declaring to the Sydney Morning Herald: "I'm just intrigued to see how long it lasts, if it's sustainable."

Australia's 4-0 Ashes humiliation of England in December and January irreversibly damaged Joe Root's captaincy, with the next edition of the teams' Test rivalry set for 2023.

McCullum insisted Smith was right to question England, adding Australia would provide the biggest challenge of his tenure but stressing his immediate focus was on the three-part series with South Africa, set to begin on August 17 at Lord's.

"I saw those [comments] flick up on one of the feeds somewhere," McCullum added. "It's quite right, it is going to be a big challenge when we take on Australia.

"It's going to challenge our method, and it's going to challenge what we're capable of achieving and that's pretty exciting I reckon.

"Isn't that what the game's all about? To sort of reinvigorate yourself and then be confronted against the very best.

"I do believe that both New Zealand and India are two very, very good cricket sides as well. Australia is a different kind of challenge because of the history of the Ashes and the rivalry which exists there.

"We know that's probably the ultimate challenge for us. We'll have to deal with that in time, I guess. In this job you plan as if you'll live forever and live as if you'll die tomorrow.

"You want to make sure you enjoy the ride. I keep preaching to the boys about being where your feet are and to try to immerse yourself in the here and now.

"You take your eye off anything, and teams will be able to make sure you look a bit silly. Our focus will be on South Africa for now but at some point in time, that will be a series which we [focus on].

"Test cricket needs the Ashes to be strong and competitive. You'd say the last one wasn't so that's the task for us in time."

Brendon McCullum said England's performance across their series whitewash of New Zealand will have set "alarm bells" ringing throughout Test cricket, as he called for a similar approach against India on Friday.

With McCullum and Ben Stokes in place as the new red-ball coach-captain partnership, England recorded a 3-0 series win, with each triumph including chases of more than 250 runs, a first for a team in a single Test series.

After winning just one of their previous 17 Tests, it represented an incredible turnaround for England, who do not have long to wait until their next outing.

With the rescheduled Test against India due to start on Friday at Edgbaston, McCullum is hoping to see England's positive approach replicated.

"It'll be quite good fun to look at a new opponent," said McCullum, as reported by ESPNcricinfo. "The world Test champions were a formidable opponent to overcome, and the alarm bells have probably gone off somewhat around world cricket as to how this team is going to play. 

"We need to make sure against a different opposition we're well researched, well planned, well prepared, and try and roll out a similar kind of performance."

McCullum called for England to push their daring style to new limits against India, who are 2-1 up in a series originally scheduled to conclude last September.

"I hope we take it too far because then we'll know exactly where that line is. Until you do that, you're not really sure," he added.

"We've seen it with the England white-ball stuff – there have been times where they've probably pushed too hard, and then they know. 

"I think it'll be the same with us, and we've got to keep exploring what that line is.

"It's not just about batting either. If you look at how we've fielded and how we've bowled as well, some of the field placements that the skipper's had in place and the mentality the guys have had, is constantly to try and chase wickets."

'Bazball' – the term given to England's entertaining style under McCullum – has won universal praise, but the head coach says he was fortunate to take on his new role when a clear desire for change existed.

"Timing is important – you have got to be ready for change," McCullum said. "I think taking over this job when the skipper and I have, there was a thirst for change. 

"When your results haven't been good, people are more receptive to change.

"The freshness of some of the ideas, the approach, stripping out some of the noise, but [also] getting guys to play the game for the game's sake. 

"The skipper has taken them on a journey, I've tried to fill in the gaps where needed, and they've got instant gratification for that change. It doesn't always happen. But that's why those guys are so keen on this style."

Brendon McCullum has been happy to take a back seat so far as England head coach, even if 'Bazball' has revitalised the struggling Test team in the space of a single series.

McCullum says he does not know what 'Bazball' is – the term given to England's entertaining style under their new coach – but there can be no doubting its effectiveness.

After winning one Test in 17, England have strung together three in a row in a whitewash of world champions New Zealand.

With a new captain, too, in Ben Stokes, the side have come out on the front foot and been rewarded with three superb victories – each including chases of more than 250 runs, a first for a team in a single Test series.

Despite his impact, McCullum had stayed out of the media limelight until after a dominant day five at Headingley on Monday.

Speaking to Sky Sports, the New Zealand great – who described the early weeks of his tenure as "a really cool ride" – explained his rationale.

"It's the players who achieve wins and losses," he said. "You just try to do your best; you always support them through some tough times, and the last thing you need is the coach standing front and centre as well.

"I'll do the media when we lose, but I think it's important these guys are recognised for the success they've been able to achieve.

"We're trying to make heroes of them, you know? We're trying to make not just great cricketers but role models for the people out there who want to fall in love with this game or are already in love with this game."

England already had at least one hero in superstar all-rounder Stokes, who is a great fit for the new coach and new tactics as the leader of a team "thirsty for change".

"I'm aggressive, but I reckon he might have me covered," McCullum.

"He came in last night [after bowling New Zealand out on day four] – I think we needed 297 or something [296] off 40 overs [before the close of play] – and said: 'We'll just knock it off tonight!'

"'We get the extra half-hour as well, 47 overs, that's only seven an over'; I said: 'Skipper, let's just see how we go on.'

"He's been absolutely outstanding; he's clearly a leader that the guys want to follow. He's so consistent with his messaging as well, no matter how much is on the line.

"In those key moments, when you see guys in the dressing room look around to see if he's going to stay on that same message, he's very much there."

Stokes and McCullum will hope his captaincy can be as successful as that of white-ball skipper Eoin Morgan, who is set to announce his retirement from international cricket on Tuesday.

Morgan led Stokes and the rest of the limited-overs team to Cricket World Cup glory in 2019 but has had an impact far beyond England, according to his close friend McCullum.

"He's going to go down as one of the most influential figures not just in English cricket but in world cricket," the coach said.

"For the approach which he's undertaken when he took over the job as England captain and what he's been able to do to change the entire attitude and style of cricket that they played.

"It's had impacts right around the world, and he's won a World Cup and taken these guys on a journey.

"You look at guys like Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, these guys are absolute international superstars, and they've been able to become those players under the leadership of Eoin Morgan."

England concluded a series whitewash of New Zealand in fashion befitting the rest of the primitive Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum era.

The new captain-coach combo have inspired England to three relentlessly entertaining Test displays – and now three wins, after Joe Root (86 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (71 no) clinched a seven-wicket victory on day five at Headingley.

England chased down 277 in the first Test and 299 in the second, and the target of 296 in Leeds never looked beyond them as they resumed on 183-2.

Rain delayed the start of play until after lunch on Monday, and Stokes' side quickly lost Ollie Pope (82) to a beauty from Tim Southee, but Bairstow picked up where he left off in his previous two innings (136 at Trent Bridge, 162 at Headingley).

His partnership with Root passed 50 inside 39 balls – the two Yorkshiremen thrilling a home crowd – but Bairstow was scoring at a far faster rate than his former captain.

Soon enough, he reached the half-century himself from just 30 deliveries – the second-quickest 50 by an England Test batsman.

Having squandered two reviews on Sunday attempting to remove Root, Kane Williamson's third went when Bairstow was caught off his forearm, rather than his glove. The batter was never concerned and swiftly resumed his assault on the New Zealand attack.

Fittingly, Bairstow finished with a four and then a six, with victory over the world Test champions wrapped up a little over an hour after the belated start.

Blistering Bairstow only behind Botham

No England player has profited as much as Bairstow from the freedom afforded him by Stokes and McCullum, with each knock seemingly better than the last.

There was little pressure on this occasion, with plenty of time and wickets in hand, and Bairstow fell agonisingly short of a long-standing Ian Botham record – his 28-ball half-century against India in 1981 briefly within reaching distance when Bairstow sent his 27th ball over the rope to reach 46.

A dot ball and a single followed before Bairstow passed 50 with his sixth four, to go with two maximums, after just 42 minutes.

India up next after unprecedented success

England have only until Friday before their next Test against India, but there will be few complaints, with the team quickly finding their rhythm under new leadership and relishing every new challenge.

India might be tempted to put England in to bat, for no target looks beyond Stokes' men when behind; they are the first Test team to chase down 250 three times in a single series.

Jack Leach has praised captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum for their leadership and says he has "never experience anything" like playing in this England Test side. 

The Somerset spinner took 5-66 on day four of England's fourth Test against New Zealand to claim his first 10-wicket haul in the format.

Leach is the first England spinner to take 10 wickets in a Test since Moeen Ali in 2017.

Not since Derek Underwood against Pakistan at Lord's in 1974 had an England spinner claimed two five-fors in a home Test.

Stokes and McCullum have put their faith in Leach and been rewarded; he is thriving under the new leadership, with England on course for a clean sweep in their three-match series against the Black Caps.

"[Under Stokes] it's really attacking, and I am really enjoying bowling attackingly [sic]," Leach told Sky Sports.

"Stokesy's confidence in his decisions but also in us as players – I have never experienced anything like it.

"It is very special to be a part of, and that is credit to Stokesy and Baz [McCullum] for setting that up.

"You realise teams I have played in, the way I have thought, a lot of decisions are made around negativity.

"A lot of four or five-day games you give up on the win quite early, but now it feels like you are always pushing for that win, so there is never really too bad a situation.

"My biggest thing is having belief in myself, and that is what Ben and Baz have helped me with."

Leach's latest impressive showing helped England to bowl out their opponents for 326 in their second innings, leaving the hosts requiring 296 runs for victory in Yorkshire.

Continuing their attacking approach under Stokes and McCullum, England will enter the final day on 183-2 thanks to strong work by Ollie Pope (81 not out) and Joe Root (55 no).

Zak Crawley (25) and Alex Lees (nine) fell early on in the chase, but Pope and Root's unbeaten 132-run stand means England now require just 113 runs with eight wickets in hand.

Should England complete the job on Monday, they will become the first team in Test history to successfully chase a target of at least 250 three times in a single series.

But Tom Blundell (88 no), who became the highest-scoring visiting wicketkeeper in a Test series in England, vowed that New Zealand will give their all to avoid a whitewash.

"This team has been known to fight, and we've got to come out there and do that tomorrow," he said. "You put a couple of wickets on there and you just never know.

"Obviously you've got two guys out there in good form, but if we get one of those, who knows?

"The wicket is deteriorating. A little bit of variable bounce, obviously with the spin as well. It's quite hard to drive with that older ball. 

"It looks like it's going to deteriorate even more, and hopefully we can utilise that tomorrow."

Ben Stokes became just the third Test cricketer to reach 100 sixes in the longest format, but his England side were taking a bruising in the third match of the series against New Zealand.

England captain Stokes had seen New Zealand advance from their overnight 225-5 to post 329 all out, before a collapse saw the home side slump to 21-4 in reply at Headingley.

That brought Stokes to the middle, and he elected to go immediately on the attack.

From the third ball he faced, Stokes slapped Tim Southee's delivery high over the long-off boundary.

It took him to a career haul of 100 Test sixes, matching the total achieved by former Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist.

The only man to plunder more is Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand great who is now England's Test head coach.

McCullum cleared the ropes 107 times in his distinguished Test career.

The all-out-attack approach from Stokes did not bring the desired results, with the skipper cracking a delivery from Neil Wagner to Kane Williamson at mid-off to be out for 18 from 13 deliveries.

When Ben Foakes was pegged leg before wicket three balls later, without any addition to the score, England were in deep trouble on 55-6, having earlier seen Alex Lees, Ollie Pope and Zak Crawley bowled by the hugely impressive Trent Boult.

The final match of the series is effectively a dead rubber, however, with England holding an unassailable 2-0 lead.

A motivational team talk from Brendon McCullum inspired England to their thrilling chase at Trent Bridge against New Zealand, with Ben Foakes likening the message to a battle cry.

England managed a fourth-innings chase of 279 in the opening Test against the Black Caps at Lord's, with Joe Root posting a majestic unbeaten 115 to guide his team to victory.

More heroics were to follow in Nottingham when England had to chase 299 on day five.

Jonny Bairstow smashed England's second-fastest Test century as Ben Stokes' side plundered in the last session to secure an unassailable 2-0 series lead.

McCullum's coaching methods, which are said to focus on mentality as opposed to technique during the match, have been praised, and Foakes credited his coach's team talk before the final session.

"Baz's team talk at tea – it was like William Wallace!" Foakes said to ESPNcricinfo, referencing the famous Scot who battled in the First War of Scottish Independence and was depicted in the film 'Braveheart'.

"After he was done, everyone was desperate to get out there.

"The traditional Test approach in that situation would be 'see how it goes, see how many wickets we've got left, then if the situation isn't there, do we shut up shop?'

"He was like, 'Nah, we're not doing that. We're winning this game. If we don't, so be it – we've done it the right way. It doesn't matter if we don't win this game.' And it took the pressure off."

Foakes has taken the gloves for England, with new captain Stokes repeatedly expressing his support for who he feels is the best wicket-keeper in the world, and the Surrey star has subsequently delivered.

He has also experienced an upturn in his batting, scoring an unbeaten fourth-innings 32 alongside Root at Lord's before managing 56 and 12 not out at Trent Bridge to see England over the line.

England will look to complete the series sweep against New Zealand at Headingley starting on Thursday, and Foakes says the leadership of Stokes and McCullum has reinvigorated his enjoyment of cricket.

"It has changed the way I look at Test cricket," Foakes added. "With playing for England, there are obviously a lot of pressures, a lot of criticisms and things like that.

"If you think about that too much, it weighs on you. But over the last two weeks, it's clear to see the positives and how amazing playing for England can be.

"Baz and Stokesy, the way they are, promote that. When I think about it, my approach to Test cricket has always just been about endurance, mentally slow for a reason, and meant to be calculated.

"When you play for England, there is another side to it – the entertainment factor. I guess it's similar to the game a year ago [at Lord's, where England declined to chase 273 in 75 overs]: we could have gone for the win, but didn't.

"For pure entertainment value, within the crowd and at home, even if you lose that game at Trent Bridge, you're probably doing more for Test cricket.

"There's a balance in the game and trying to improve the viewership of it as well."

Stuart Broad hailed the mentality new Test coach Brendon McCullum has instilled in England, with the New Zealand great encouraging his side to play with freedom.

England completed a fourth-innings chase of 279 in the opening Test against the Black Caps at Lord's, with Joe Root posting a majestic unbeaten 115 to guide his team to victory.

But more fireworks were to follow at Trent Bridge when England chased down 299 in just 50 overs on the final day as the McCullum era got off to a magnificent start.

Jonny Bairstow bludgeoned the second-fastest Test century for England on Tuesday, with new captain Ben Stokes providing more than capable support to take an unassailable 2-0 series lead over New Zealand in the three-match series.

Much has been made of McCullum's coaching methods, which are said to focus on mentality as opposed to technique during the match, and Broad was quick to credit his coach.

"There's no doubt that Baz has had an impact already," said Broad.

"It does feel really fresh and exciting in the changing room. It's a very positive language. It's very forward-thinking, all about how to move this game forward.

"This is no dig but at tea, when we were four down with the game in the balance slightly, I've certainly been in changing rooms in the past where that would be shut up shop time.

"Baz's team talk was very much 'let's attack the danger; let's run towards the danger' so every part of your mind is about going for this win.

"It was never really a case of 'if we lose one we might shut up shop'. It was always 'we're going to win' and if it doesn't work, don't worry about it."

Root has continued his batting form in impressive fashion after stepping down as England Test captain in April, with Stokes taking the role.

Chris Silverwood was also dismissed as coach and Broad says McCullum has brought the focus back to the excitement of cricket, with players enjoying the challenge and the occasion.

"I don't think he's spoken particularly deeply, his whole mantra is about enjoyment and fun," he added. "The energy is: how good's Test cricket? How good's this ground? What can we get out of today?

"He looks like a guy who has a cricket brain that is working all the time, he's thinking how we can change the game.

"It's not just praising guys who get a hundred, it's tiny little things, bits of fielding, momentum changes in the game. He will bring attention to that."

While McCullum has enjoyed a great beginning to his role, downing the world Test champions in both matches, even the New Zealand legend may have not expected the heroics of Bairstow.

The Yorkshire star smashed a 77-ball century in a game-changing 179-run partnership with Stokes as England chased the remaining 160 runs in the final session with ease.

"I didn't quite expect to see what I saw from Jonny. It was the most outrageous hour I've seen in Test cricket from a partnership. It was just exhilarating, astonishing," Broad continued.

"That striking...only a handful of players in the world can do that. Jonny is obviously in that group."

The sky is the limit for England's Test team under the new leadership of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, says Jonny Bairstow.

England claimed an emphatic five-wicket victory over New Zealand at Trent Bridge on Tuesday, thanks in large part to Bairstow's supreme performance.

Bairstow struck 136 off just 92 deliveries as he turned in one of the all-time great batting displays in red-ball cricket for England.

Indeed, his 77-ball century fell agonisingly short of matching Gilbert Jessop's 76-ball hundred at The Oval in 1902, which still stands as England's fastest Test ton.

The Yorkshireman's 136 was the highest fourth-innings score of any England batter coming in at five or lower, as he combined with captain Stokes to propel the hosts to victory with a 179-run fifth-wicket partnership.

While Bairstow's stand was eventually ended by Trent Boult, who took 3-94 for a New Zealand bowling attack devoid of the injured Kyle Jamieson, Stokes (75 not out) was on hand to hammer a four through the covers and wrap up the highest successful Test chase at Trent Bridge.

England won just one of their previous 17 Tests before Stokes replaced Joe Root – who starred in the first innings in Nottingham – as captain and former New Zealand skipper McCullum was appointed as coach. They now hold an unassailable 2-0 series lead heading to Leeds for next week's final match.

With 1,675 runs scored over the second Test – the most ever seen at Trent Bridge – Bairstow explained England approached day five as a one-day game, and he believes the team have the perfect balance to return to the top in the longest format.

"It was just great fun to be out there. It's one of those things, when you get in that kind of mood you've just got to go with it. It was do or die," he told Sky Sports.

"If you strip everything back and there's just you and the bowler there... that's the bit where sometimes cricket's so much more complicated, and it's complicated by us as players.

"When you strip it all back, you're just watching the ball – that is the zone you have to get into. Sometimes it can be tricky.

"When there's been so many runs scored in the game, I don't think you look at it as a record run chase, you look at it as an opportunity to go and chase down a total. We saw it as a one-day game – that's how we looked at it.

"I think the positive approach, the brand of cricket we're looking to play, the players we have in that dressing room are able to play that brand of cricket. I tell you what, days like this are very exciting. If this is happening now, let's see what happens in the next few weeks and next few months because it's going to be a journey."

Asked where his ninth Test century ranked among his other tons for England in the five-day game, Bairstow – who revealed his evening session onslaught was fuelled by a "cheese and ham toastie and a cup of coffee" – replied: "It's number one. I think it's tricky not to be number one, isn't it?

"There's been a lot of chatter around England's Test cricket, some of which has been a bit harsh. We've battled through different things. I'm hugely proud of the way the guys have gone about it in those few years, it's enabled us to get close as a group.

"If we're able to go forward as we have done, keep that momentum, keep it going, the sky is the limit."

Moeen Ali has confirmed he has "officially unretired" and is available for the England Test side after a conversation with coach Brendon McCullum.

Moeen announced his retirement from the five-day game last September after struggling to maintain focus in red-ball outings and enjoying shorter-format cricket.

The 34-year-old mustered 2,914 Test runs at an average of 28.3 and collected 195 wickets at 36.7, including a hat-trick against South Africa at The Oval in 2017.

Only James Anderson and Stuart Broad managed more Test wickets for England during Moeen's time in the side, while the off-spinner ranked 12th for dismissals in the world in that same period.

Stokes has since been appointed captain as the successor to Joe Root, partnering with coach McCullum, who replaced Chris Silverwood after his dismissal.

That had led to suggestions of a potential Test return for white-ball star Jos Buttler and also Moeen, who acknowledged on Saturday he would be open to the idea of featuring again, adding "never say never".

Moeen then followed that up on Sunday by confirming, after a conversation with McCullum, he is available for selection as he eyes the Pakistan Test tour for a three-match series in September.

 

"I spoke to McCullum this morning, and we did discuss Pakistan this winter," he said on BBC's Test Match Special. "The door is always open, and yeah, I suppose I am officially unretired.

"He is a very difficult person to say no to. I find that very, very hard. He is very convincing and to be honest I would love to play under him and Ben Stokes.

"They are both very aggressive and I think I would suit their cricket a bit more. At the time I said I was retired I felt like I was done. I felt really tired with cricket."

Moeen Ali has left the door open for a return to Test cricket for England after admitting he would "love" to play under Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes.

Moeen announced his retirement from red-ball internationals last September after struggling to maintain focus in the five-day game and enjoying shorter-format cricket.

The 34-year-old scored 2,914 Test runs at an average of 28.3 and picked up 195 wickets at 36.7, including a hat-trick against South Africa at The Oval in 2017.

Only James Anderson and Stuart Broad took more Test wickets for England during Moeen's time in the side, while the off-spinner ranked 12th for dismissals in the world in that same period.

Stokes has since been appointed captain as the successor to Joe Root, partnering with coach McCullum, who replaced Chris Silverwood after his dismissal.

That has led to suggestions for a potential Test return for white-ball star Jos Buttler and also Moeen, who acknowledged it would be hard to refuse the new leadership pair.

"There's a possibility. I'm a big one for never say never. We'll see what happens," Moeen told BBC's Test Match Special on Saturday.

"Brendon got the job and he messaged me the day after, during the IPL, and said 'are you in?'

"He said he would call me at the weekend. So, we spoke and he said 'in the future if we need you, if there are injuries or a tour in the subcontinent etc, are you keen to play?'

"He's a very difficult person to say no to and I found that very, very hard. He's very convincing.

"To be honest, I'd love to play under him and Stokesy. Both of them have that character about them. They're very aggressive. I think I would suit their cricket a bit more and I think they feel I would suit them as well.

"I said to Brendon the door is never always closed if your country needs you, or guys are injured or your team needs you for balance. So, yeah, I'm keen."

Moeen may target a return to the Test setup when England tour Pakistan for a three-match series next September, with the tourists requiring spinning options on turning pitches in the subcontinent.

"We've not been there for many, many years. It would be a great tour to be part of, for sure," Moeen added.

Ben Stokes heaped praise on the "brave" Joe Root for speaking openly about his England Test captaincy struggles as he backed the in-form batter to keep piling on the runs.

Root stepped down from his role as skipper of the red-ball side after a series defeat in West Indies following a run of just one win in their past 17 Tests.

Stokes was appointed as his successor, while Brendon McCullum took over as head coach after the dismissal of Chris Silverwood.

The new era got off to a great start, with Root scoring a majestic unbeaten 115 to pass 10,000 runs in Test cricket and help England to a five-wicket victory over New Zealand last Sunday.

Root admitted after that knock, his first international without the captaincy, that the extra responsibility had started to negatively impact his private life.

Stokes says the former skipper has a spring back in his step.

"I went through that whole ride with Joe, especially over the last two years. We had some private conversations on tours away around that kind of stuff," Stokes told reporters.

"I'm sure everybody knows, being England captain is more than just what you do out on the field. You can end up taking it home and it can affect your personal situation – which Joe was very brave to say.

"This week, without that added pressure of being captain, it was almost like Joe was 18 again. And I'm pretty sure it won't be long till he's snipping people's socks again.

"It's great to see Joe the way that he is. It's great that he doesn't have that mountain of added pressure of being captain on his shoulders.

"And the one thing Joe always does is score runs."

Stokes also hopes England can ride the wave under McCullum and secure an unassailable 2-0 lead by winning the second Test, which starts at Trent Bridge on Friday.

"First time out winning a series would obviously be good," he added. "It's going to be a long road with the way that we have changed mindset. I know there's going to be some ups and some downs.

"We're on a big up after winning last week, but we've just got to try and take everything as it comes, because who knows what this week will have in store for us."

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