England's 124-run victory over New Zealand in the first Test at Lord's on Monday has been widely acclaimed as one of the greatest matches in the game's history.
In a match of constantly fluctuating fortunes, England recovered from a dreadful start of 30 for four to post a respectable first-innings total of 389. New Zealand replied with 523 before the home team hit back with 478, including the fastest ever Test century at Lord's coming from New Zealand-born Ben Stokes. Chasing 345 for victory, the Kiwis recovered from 12 for three to get to 220 in the final innings, with an extraordinary catch by Moeen Ali at third man bringing an end to the game.
"An amazing way to finish the test match, number 11 backing away and caught at third man. I have loved every minute. Couldn't have been better," former England spinner Phil Tufnell told the BBC. "It was one of the best test matches of the modern era," former England batsman Ed Smith agreed. "Sometimes a great story needs a great ending and the look on Moeen's face after that fantastic catch was a mixture of joy, innocence, and hopefulness."
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum leaves the pitch after being bowled by England's Ben Stokes during the fifth day of the first Test match between England and New Zealand at Lord's cricket ground in London. (AP Photo)
New Zealand, however, will not let the tight loss lessen their resolve to keep playing aggressive cricket, captain Brendon McCullum said. "It hurts a lot. I certainly won't lie. But at the same time there is an element of pride that we continue to play the style of cricket that we know gives us our greatest chance," McCullum told reporters. "There are times we know that teams are going to be able to stand up to you and withstand the pressure you apply to them and come out on top.
"When that happens you've just got to doff your cap and say well played to them and make sure that next time you get that opportunity you go hard again and make sure that you're asking the same sort of questions," he said. "Who knows at Headingley... we may see some different results but I'm pretty sure our guys will continue to play the same style of cricket which we have in this Test match and which we have done over the last 18 months."
McCullum said being defensive had not worked for his side, who have not lost a test series home or away since being swept 2-0 on their last England tour in 2013. "For a long time we had that kind of mentality and it didn't serve us anywhere near as well as the aggressive mindset that we are now taking into games," the 33-year-old said.
"You've got to make sure you're authentic to that style, under pressure or whether you're on top. We scored over 720 runs in this test match. We took 20 wickets. We ticked off a lot of things which normally would lead to a test win but in some of the key moments we weren't quite able to come out on top."
"The message to the team will be that we weren't far away," he said. "There's certainly no knee-jerk reaction to a performance like this. For the most of it, we were pretty good."
Former England captain Michael Vaughan agreed. "NZ are my favourite team to watch in world cricket... we need them here for more than a two-Test series," he said on Twitter.
The second Test in Leeds starts on Friday.