NZ v WI, 2nd Test, Wellington, 3rd day December 13, 2013

Seamers fire New Zealand's growing self-belief

More than a year had passed since New Zealand last belted out their victory song. Denied in Dunedin, Brendon McCullum was faced with another tricky follow-on scenario, but his seam trio delivered

In the end it all came too easily for New Zealand. Not that they were complaining. It had been more than a year since they were able to belt out their victory song. Two hours after the final wicket, the entire squad assembled in the middle to celebrate.

For Brendon McCullum it was a much-needed first win as captain. For all his talk of strides being made and that rewards would come his team's way, he was getting to the stage where he was desperate for a result to back up the words.

However, it has not just been bluster from McCullum. Certainly at home New Zealand have played some very consistent cricket this year. In four out of their five Tests they have posted first-innings scores of over 200 and in the last three matches have been in the position to enforce the follow-on, largely through the efforts of their hard-working, and skillful seam attack which was again to the fore in Wellington, led by Trent Boult's career-best haul of 10 for 80.

The catching, too, was outstanding, highlighted by Boult's gravity-defying grab - a contender for catch of the year - at backward point to remove Denesh Ramdin which hastened the three-day finish.

"I didn't envisage it happening the way it did today," McCullum said. "But I'm thoroughly pleased and proud of these guys. They've worked incredibly hard over a long period of time, and put ourselves in winning positions in the last few matches and haven't been able to get the result. We forced the result through excellent batting and bowling. Our catching and fielding in general was superb as well so I think we played the near perfect Test."

New Zealand were in control at the start of the second day, but a finishing time of 4.30pm on the third was unexpected despite West Indies' ability to fold in a heap. After Dunedin, Darren Sammy said how relieved he was that it was "not another India" - sadly, this one was another India.

Boult was the bowler to cause most grief with the tenth-best analysis by a New Zealand bowler in Test cricket and the continuation of a productive year which has seen him rise among the top wicket-takers in the world where is currently vying for third place on 41 scalps.

West Indies were awful, barring the period at the start of the follow-on where Kirk Edwards and Kieran Powell added 74 to perhaps just get McCullum a little twitchy after what happened in Dunedin. But when the breakthrough came, the rest followed swiftly. Their overall figures are not pretty; break them down further and they are downright ugly: a collapse of 6 for 18 in the first innings, 4 for 20 after the second opening stand, 5 for 29 to finish the game off, 10 for 101 in the entire second innings.

Yet there was an element of a gamble by McCullum when he enforced the follow-on, admitting that there was conflicting advice after the experience at University Oval. When it was put to Boult as to whether it was the seamers who pushed the agenda, there was a wry smile. It was the main reason why Boult, despite ending West Indies' first innings with five wickets in 15 balls, only bowled two overs out of the first 34 in the follow-on. When he did return, refreshed, he hustled his way to another four.

The security of a five or, if Kane Williamson is included, a six-man bowling attack was one of the factors that persuaded McCullum to go for the quick finish. "If in doubt, I always like to go for the attacking option," he said.

And although Boult ended with the eye-catching return, the second innings was set-up by Tim Southee and Neil Wagner who combined for exacting spells after lunch when the West Indies' openers had threatened to set the platform for another rearguard. Southee bowled nine off the reel to take 3 for 24 and Wagner produced the best spell of the match, and possibly the series, during which he claimed Darren Bravo and worked over Marlon Samuels whose subsequent edge to slip off Southee was down to teamwork.

"That was a crucial period for us," McCullum said. "It was going to be tough after Trent had bowled a lot of overs to still have his potency. We knew that we had to rely a lot on the other guys. Tim bowled a tremendous spell.

"Wags [Wagner] was struggling a little bit to get his rhythm and to try and impose himself on the game. He's a real fighter and he knew he was starting to battle a bit. It was great that he was able to put the effort in at a really crucial time for us and showed why he is an excellent third seamer for us. Trent got the accolades, and quite rightly so, and he will continue to do so but those other guys certainly played their part also."

As McCullum headed off to make sure he could remember the words to the team song, his public commitments for the day were done and he could begin to relax. It's only one Test, but it's a start.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on December 14, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    @Noel Evans - never quite understood why Papps didn't get more of a go considering some of the guys we have had open in the past. I cringe when I watch Fulton sometimes. Rutherford reminds me of Spearman but I think he'll come right, well at least I hope he does. Still worth persevering with I reckon. When Ryder finally makes his comeback will be interesting to see where he can fit in as the middle order is starting to settle. I really think Martin Crowe should have some kind of a role. He is Ross Taylor's mentor and look at his record compared to the rest of the team. Living overseas so haven't seen all of the recent tests but looks like Taylor didn't play that dirty slog sweep often if at all??? And look at the results!

  • Tricky on December 14, 2013, 2:26 GMT

    Sammy might be regretting saying "NZ played as good as they can in Dunedin". WI need to circle the wagons quickly otherwise it might be ironically prophetic of their own test performances.

  • Dummy4 on December 14, 2013, 0:24 GMT

    DJRNZ. I agree re: Fulton. I've never thought him to be of true international calibre. What about Michael Papps? I know he's been tried before and was suspect to bouncers, but his record over the past two seasons has been very good, and he appears to have resolved his earlier technical problems. Agree Ryder should be back - he's best batsman in NZ rivalling Taylor. I'm still a bit worried about Rutherford - still throws his wicket away.

  • David on December 13, 2013, 23:18 GMT

    The talk of a two tier system drives me nuts. Seems to pop up again whenever you get a one-sided match. Here's the thing. In a two-tier system, WI and NZ would be in the same tier, so this one-sidedness would still occur. Similarly, looking across the Tasman, it would be hard to justify Aus and Eng in the same tier just at the moment. Furthermore, what would happen for the limited overs leg of a tour. Sri Lanka would be in the second tier, and yet they are the number one ranked T20 side - WI are the world champions. Having two tiers for each format would make scheduling a nightmare.

    You have to remember all teams go through troughs, and often these mismatches occur when one team is playing in completely foreign conditions. In the WI case their plight is compounded by a number of key injuries. Small nations don't have the bench strength of the bigger teams. But I have no doubt they will bounce back. They are a test-quality team. NZ are just playing great cricket at home at the moment.

  • A.J on December 13, 2013, 23:01 GMT

    I don't understand the hate on Wagner. Not so long ago, Southee had a bowling average of 41 and that was after FIVE YEARS of international cricket. Wagner has the first class average to prove he can bowl, plus he's a useful lower order bat. To put it in perspective, Rutherford has only had ONE decent innings and only averages thirty, if anything Wagner's bowling average of 38 is better than Rutherford's of 31. Wagner has produced a few really good performances and that shows that he can and will if given the chance.

  • Peter on December 13, 2013, 20:53 GMT

    I have plenty of respect for the Kiwi seamers, they showed in Hobart what they are capable of & as England found early this year, this team is one very tough outfit to beat at home. Kudos to the Blacks Caps.

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2013, 18:32 GMT

    Positive signs for NZ cricket.Good young team in the making.With Vettori Ryder and Guptill coming in,they can only become stronger.Kane Williamson is a very good player.He along with Virat Kohli and Chateshwar Pujara is the best young batter in the world.Also Trent Boult and Tim Southee are good prospects who should be managed carefully.Surely we dont want another shane Bond.What NZ must do now is play more matches and aim to break into top 5 of test cricket.All the best NZ cricket.

  • Angus on December 13, 2013, 18:23 GMT

    We'll done boys, awesome return for some hard work and obvious talent and skill. @DJRNZ agree about Fulton but disagree about Wagner. He pulled the team out of the cr*p in Bangladesh and he had a great time against England. He struggled in Dunedin and 1st innings here but bowled a great spell to start the collapse in the 2nd. If Bracewell can up his game and Milne is offered a chance then we will be even better placed for the 3rd seamer option.

  • David on December 13, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    Just need to find someone to replace Fulton and Wagner. But only if the latter doesn't start picking up some more wickets soon. Like Sodhi but with Vettori back soon that'll make the team even stronger. Ryder will be a good addition and if only Guptil was a solid in tests as he is on ODI's we'd have an excellent team.... just not tons of depth as usual. Need to find someone solid to pair with Rutherford, Fulton just looks out of sorts too often for my liking.

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2013, 15:08 GMT

    We need to get Jason, Ravil & Sunil to NZland as quickly asap for the 3rd test so we could rest Sammy & Best for the Odi series. Sammy already had an injury scare on tour while averaging a whopping 24 overs an inning & Tino has been putting out a lot of effort in the test matches so far averaging 21 overs an innings. That way Sammy & Tino will be a bit fresher when the ODI series starts & Jason & Ravi should get a proper work out in kiwi conditions to help prep for the ODI series as well. Maybe if they bowl well in the 3rd Test that could play on the minds of the kiwi batsmen going into the 1st odi @ Aukland. Gabriel has also been working hard averaging almost 20 overs an innings he needs a rest as well. If the conditions in Hamilton favor spin bowling then Narine could be brought in to support Shillingford giving him some miles in the legs before the Odi series begins on boxing day. If not Then the left arm pacer Sheldon would add variety to the bowling @ Hamilton

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