LEEDS: Jack Leach took 10 wickets in a Test for the first time in his career on Sunday as England were set a target of 296 to complete a 3-0 series whitewash of New Zealand.
Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell had frustrated England yet again with their fourth century stand of the series.
But paceman Matthew Potts sparked a second-innings collapse that eventually led to New Zealand being dismissed for 326 on the stroke of tea on the fourth day of the third Test at Headingley.
England, who had won just one of their previous 17 matches at this level prior to the series will fancy their chances of completing a clean sweep of the World Test champions after chasing down stiff targets of 277 and 299 in five-wicket wins at Lord’s and Trent Bridge respectively.
Leach had already secured a place in Headingley history with a memorable one not out batting at No 11 in a dramatic one-wicket Ashes Test win over Australia at the Leeds ground in 2019.
But he has now excelled at Yorkshire’s headquarters in his primary role of left-arm spinner, following a first-innings return of 5-100 with 5-66 on Sunday to give him 10-166 in the 25th Test of his career.
The Somerset bowler polished off the tail after Potts, in his debut Test series, had made a key breakthrough by removing the in-form Mitchell lbw for 56.
Just four balls earlier, the Durham quick thought he had broken an eventual 113-run partnership with a leg before decision against Blundell that was overturned on review.
Mitchell, who only played in the series opener at Lord’s after injury and illness ruled out Henry Nicholls, finished a campaign where he scored three hundreds with a tally of 538 runs – a New Zealand record in a series against England – at a huge average of 107.60.
When the 31-year-old was out, the Black Caps were still well-placed at 274-6, a lead of 243.
But Leach, clearly enjoying the confidence of England’s new leadership duo of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, a former New Zealand skipper, then took centre stage.
He lured Michael Bracewell into hoisting a catch to deep midwicket before deceiving Tim Southee with a quicker arm ball.
Neil Wagner then fell in unusual fashion when replacement wicketkeeper Sam Billings, who only took the field Sunday as a Covid-19 replacement for Ben Foakes, could not hold an edge off Leach first time but eventually grabbed a ball that had lodged between his legs.
Leach then bowled Trent Boult to end the innings, with Blundell left just shy of what would have been his second hundred of the series on 88 not out.