Ross Taylor insisted it was important New Zealand maintained their standards after a fine all-round display at Edgbaston on June 12 left them on the brink of just their third Test series win in England.
The experienced batsman made a valuable 80 on the third day’s play of the second and deciding Test to help New Zealand establish a first-innings lead of 85 runs.
If that was not as big an advantage as looked likely at one stage, it proved more than enough for New Zealand’s attack as they reduced England to 76-7 in their second innings.
England just avoided the humiliation of a defeat inside three days after reaching stumps on 122-9, a slender lead of 37 runs with a lone wicket standing.
“You want to be professional in the way you go about it,” Taylor told reporters after stumps.
“The batters out there can score runs and if they can get a decent lead, then obviously they can get their tails up, and you never know what happens.
“Whatever we do, we need to do it well tomorrow and get that one wicket then go about the chase in a professional manner.”
Matt Henry, only in this side because spearhead Tim Southee was rested ahead of next week’s World Test Championship final against India at Southampton, removed the top order in a return of 3-36.
Neil Wagner followed up with 3-18 and spinner Ajaz Patel, like Henry one of an exceptional six changes to the New Zealand side that played in the drawn series opener at Lord’s, took 2-25.
New Zealand are on the cusp of joining their 1986 and 1999 predecessors as series victors in England.
Nevertheless, Taylor insisted: “There hasn’t been much talk in the dressing room. I think we were just happy with the way we bowled in that last session and how we stuck at it.
“To put a very good England side under pressure for long periods of time and to get the rewards was what was satisfying from our point of view.”
‘Not good enough’
England’s batting has long been a concern and a team without injured all-rounder Ben Stokes and the rested Jos Buttler were well below the required standard on June 12.
“It was obviously not good enough,” said England coach Chris Silverwood.
“There’s things to work on without a shadow of a doubt, no one’s going to hide from that or deny it,” he added after specialist batsmen Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope, regarded as rising stars, had once again fallen cheaply.
England are on the brink of their first Test series loss on home soil since a 2014 reverse against Sri Lanka.
This season will also see them take on India in a five-match series before they try to regain the Ashes in Australia.
“Things will change naturally once you get Stokes and Buttler back,” said Silverwood.
Stuart Broad led England’s attack with 4-48 only to see his team-mates at the top of the order fall cheaply on a good batting pitch.
A sympathetic Silverwood, himself a former England paceman, said: “I always feel for the bowlers because I’m an ex-bowler.
“We know we have the bowling attack that can do that but we are trying to put those big runs on and we haven’t this time round.”