New Zealand did it. The first win in a test series against a side ranked higher in the ICC rankings since 2006, and we’re full of hope and optimism again. This was not a great West Indies side, but they were not allowed to improve.
The classic case in point was Marlon Samuels. He is a good player, but arrived here out of form. And the New Zealand bowlers, with a brief exception in the first innings at the Basin, made sure he was not going to play himself back into form. He was targeted with a mixture of swing and short stuff.
Planning and execution.
Rhythm and Swing
For probably the first time New Zealand has two strike bowlers of similar potency. And they are hunting as a pair.
Stats. In this series Boult took 20 wickets @ 15 apiece. Southee took 18 @ 18. That is pretty relentless.
Stats. In the tests they have opened the bowling together they have a better record than Hadlee and Chatfield at the same stage.
But there is more to it than that. The pressure that Wagner and Anderson exert means they can be used in spurts when it matters. Think of the long rest that Southee got on the last day at the Basin. And they were reintroduced on the third day here at just the right stage.
It wasn’t too hard picking the player of the series. So composed, and so consistent. The statistics say it all, and have been well documented. These next two or three years promise to be quite special.
And hopefully the guy he often bats with, after scores of 45, 58 and 56 in this series, will strive for where the bar has been set.
The jury is still out on whether Darren Sammy is a genuine test player, yet alone a captain. But it is hard not to warm to the guy.
His lilting voice, strong sense of humour and general positive demeanour have been a feature of this series.
And then there’s his catching. Four outstanding catches in this test; all of them taken with supreme nonchalance.
The Narine Enigma
The darling of the IPL has had a mixed, and pretty limited test career. And by mixed, it is best summarised by against New Zealand, and not against New Zealand.
In tests against other sides, the majority being Bangladesh, he averages 138. Against New Zealand he averages 24. The West Indies management made a few blunders before and during this tour; not playing Narine in Dunedin and Wellington was the biggest of those.
The Role Reversal
A side plays above themselves for the first couple of days of a test and takes a first innings lead. Then, in the third innings of the match manages to collapse in style and give up the test.
Sound familiar? For the last 15 years New Zealand has made a speciality of that. This time the roles were reversed.
It hardly wipes the memory of that tour of England in 2004 and others but it was good to see an opponent managing it.