New Zealand did it.
The World Test Championship has been such a long time in coming as the oldest format of the sport finally realised that there was more to it than The Ashes and other tests. The ICC had introduced a test ranking system a few decades back but that had no real structure to it, and it certainly lacked a mace.
When the concept was finally given the green light few would have picked New Zealand to be competitive, let alone make the final. And when they did make the final few seemed to believe it anyway.
But something strange had been happening to the test side over the last eight or so years. They had become really good, and had proven themselves against the best in the world*
Take a look at this photo. It features players who did not make the WTC Final XI and were hardly ever likely to be.
Yet the previous week at Edgbaston Matt Henry was Man of the Match, Young top scored and Blundell and Patel made useful contributions. This is depth we have never had before.
And the icing on the cake of the playing XI has been the introduction of Jamieson and Conway over the last 18 months, and they were a significant factor here. Jamieson was Man of the Match as following his constant penetration and accuracy while Conway notched up the highest individual score of the match. But wait; there’s more.
The old firm of Southee and Boult, with the exception of the first half hour or so, never made life easy for the Indian batsmen and got their rewards. And their performances can be partly put down to good team management in the previous week in Birmingham. The recently arrived Boult needed game time, and Southee needed a rest to be at his best. The plan worked perfectly. Southee also made an important contribution with the bat.
Wagner was Wagner, and the wicket of Rahane to the Wagner Trap(c) was a significant moment in a test full of significant moments. Big Colin plugged away without luck in the first innings while providing one of the great post match celebrations.
Tom Latham provided much needed runs in the first innings as well as acting like a zinc covered catching magnet in the field, while Henry Nicholls’s catch to dismiss Pant in the second innings was another one of those significant moments. Good chest thump afterwards too.
Watling got such a fitting farewell to a memorable career. While he failed with the bat his keeping throughout was superb in really tough conditions. And in the second innings he did it with a dislocated finger.
Which leaves Taylor and Williamson. The skipper had already played an important innings earlier in the test (was it Day 3, 4 or 5?). It started off like a high country rock flower stubbornly refusing to bloom before expanding with the tail.
They came together at 44/2 in the final session with the India bowlers at the top of their games. There was a feeling a wobble in the air.
Neither found it easy going early, but once they got into their twenties we could start to breathe again. All that experience and all that class proved that this side is in a different class.
New Zealand beat the might of India to win the World Test Championship final in about 3 ½ days’ worth of actual cricket.