New Zealand v West Indies, 3rd Test, Hamilton, 4th day December 22, 2013

New Zealand show signs of a revival

New Zealand's first Test innings in 2013 saw them fold for 45. However, their series win against West Indies, with an emphatic victory in Hamilton, has capped off a year that has seen the Test team regroup impressively from the early lows

McGlashan: NZ proving formidable at home

New Zealand finished their Test cricket for 2013 in much better shape than they started. Their first act for the year was to be rumbled for 45 in Cape Town; their last was to canter to an eight-wicket victory shortly after lunch on the fourth day in Hamilton.

Since the emotional lows of South Africa, the Test side has regrouped impressively, even though there have been a few bumps along the way. From the depths they had slumped to it was never going to be an easy climb. Since the England visit to New Zealand in March, Brendon McCullum has regularly spoken about the strides his side has made but, after losing in England - always likely to be a tough trip - and drawing a blank in Bangladesh, he desperately needed something to show for the effort from this series.

It has come in emphatic style - an-innings-and-73-run victory followed by an eight-wicket win from a point, less than 24 hours earlier, when the Test was on an even keel, if not slightly in West Indies' favour. Much will be made of the paucity of what the visitors offered after earning a narrow lead - and it was another shambolic session of Test batting from them - but to only focus on that would do a disservice to some impressive New Zealand performances.

Statistically, Ross Taylor stands out with three hundreds in a series that brought 495 runs. He needs to keep his standards high against tougher attacks, but this could be the series that defines the second half of his career. Although the double hundred in Dunedin was the landmark innings, his hundreds in Wellington (on a green pitch) and in Hamilton (on a spinning pitch) were more significant pieces of batsmanship.

However, on level terms with Taylor was the role played by Tim Southee and Trent Boult as the new ball pair shared 38 wickets in the three Tests. They would have troubled better top order line-ups than provided by West Indies, with their series-clinching spells on the third afternoon in Hamilton coming in conditions where spin was expected to be the main threat. "We got out of here with a win on a tougher wicket than we faced in the first two Tests," Southee said.

Although contributed to by an awful West Indies batting display in their second innings, this was a very significant result for New Zealand because it did not come in traditional home conditions. There would have been some rumblings if the pitch had helped West Indies level the series, but now it can be viewed as another stepping stone in their development.

"In the first two Tests, we lost the toss and were faced with green wickets and still managed 600 and 440, which were outstanding. Here, we made the wrong decision at the toss and still managed to come out with the result," McCullum said. "In hindsight we should have batted first, we misread the wicket, and obviously when we saw it turning and bouncing, there was a bit of concern there but, thankfully, we were able to get as close to their score as we did with Ross playing another world-class innings.

"I think that was the best out of the three hundreds for the series because it was such tough examination, from Sunil Narine in particular. That probably gave us a little bit of momentum and some belief we were in the game and that if we could put them under some pressure with the ball that we would be able to give ourselves a smallish chase. But we didn't envisage chasing down 120."

Not that McCullum, with an eye on the India's forthcoming visit, wants these types of surfaces to be become too frequent at home: "We preferably don't want something similar to this. That's probably why this win is really satisfying as well. I don't think we'd turn up in Kolkata and get a green one, so I'd hope when India turn up we don't give them a spinning one."

It was the breath-taking catch by Kane Williamson at gully to remove Shivnarine Chanderpaul that made McCullum believe the Test had swung decisively in New Zealand's favour, a little more than an hour after they had feared a very taxing run chase on a pitch assisting West Indies' spinners.

"After the resistance they showed in the first innings, we thought even if we'd managed to get a couple of quick ones that the progress they made through Shiv and Denesh Ramdin was going to come to the fore again, but we managed to dismiss Shiv pretty early and that's when we believed we could run through them," McCullum said.

India's visit in the New Year will provide a much tougher proposition - particularly now that India appear to be forming a decent pace attack of their own - but New Zealand do not fear anyone on their own patch. When the rankings are updated a few days later, they will still be lagging behind West Indies but, on the evidence of this series, the two teams are heading in opposite directions.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Beau on December 23, 2013, 6:21 GMT

    @Stup1d: The team was starting to look promising (away wins against AUS and SL) before Hesson came aboard and destroyed all momentum, confidence, and team culture with the cataincy debacle and the SA hammering that came as a direct result of his aggressively incompetent start as head coach.

    Since then, the team has looked much better (particularly at home), but hasn't enjoyed any actual wins. Now, that has changed with this series win. So, "signs of revival". See how that works?

  • Dummy4 on December 23, 2013, 2:42 GMT

    Stup1d The Windies are still ahead of NZ in the test rankings. However the Windies have turned up with their worst side I have ever seen and things don't look like they are getting better. Gayle still picks and chooses when he plays for the Windies it seems like to me. When Ryder comes back the Blackcaps will be that musch stronger. For me the one that got away will by the England series at home.

  • Jason on December 22, 2013, 21:24 GMT

    Okay okay okay. Yes, a job well done against a team depleted of its best players and in foreign conditions with very little lead in time. BUT - our next test opponents will be a battle hardened highly talented Indian side. I think a rather severe reality check is in store for NZ fans. "Signs of revival" may be all too fleeting!

  • David on December 22, 2013, 19:58 GMT

    I'll buy into talk of a revival when we start playing consistently. 2 wins against a pathetic Windies team doesn't mean anything for me other that bumping Ross' batting average up to where it belongs. Good to get the wins and don't want to take that away from the team as a few of the guys played really well but play well against India and whoever is next and then lets talk about revival as I have heard this numerous times over the last 20 years.

  • Arvind on December 22, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    Uhm, how does a win against West Indies "show signs of revival"? I don't really get it.

  • ketan on December 22, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    well done kiwis!! They r very dengerous at home. They deserves series win vs england earlier this year & clean sweep in this series(3-0). It will not easy for india to beat them later in summer.

  • alesana on December 22, 2013, 5:25 GMT

    Happy & relieved for the NZ test team, long time since our last test series victory against a top side. Well done boys!

  • Dummy4 on December 22, 2013, 4:46 GMT

    I think, Ben Stokes should be "motivated" to play for his own country. NZ willbe that much stronger.

  • Dummy4 on December 22, 2013, 4:32 GMT

    I would say overall it was an outstanding performance from the Blackcaps. Specially the second innings of the final test. Ross Taylor, Trent Boult and Tim Southee need to keep their momentum going and hoping forward to witness them perform in the same manner against the Top Sides. Congratulation to New Zealand Team :)

  • No featured comments at the moment.