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Can New Zealand become a hot ticket?

Ian Bell slumps on his bat after being dismissed Getty Images

New Zealand won their first away Test against England in 16 years, at Headingley, to tie the series 1-1, but the contests were as important for style as much as for results.

The 199-run triumph and, to an extent, the 124-run loss at Lord's delivered theatre that enhanced New Zealand's status on the international cricketing stage.

Impressing the Big Three of Australia, India and England to maximise touring potential in future bilateral series has become an added item on the list of smaller countries' objectives.

Who wouldn't want to play New Zealand? Win and you defeat one of the world's most dashing teams; lose and you've witnessed cricket at a tempo difficult to emulate but spectacular to watch. A team that can score 1547 runs at 4.27 per over and deliver 40 wickets through pace and spin, as New Zealand did across the two Tests, provides captivating entertainment.

They are No. 4 in the rankings, and it is not hyperbole to suggest their revolutionary brand could be a bargaining chip for extra away Tests. Four slips and a gully? No problem. Eight batsmen out of ten hitting sixes in the second innings at Headingley? Voila. Pitch the ball up and let it swing? Too easy.

Attrition is out, aggression is in.

The usually objective sanctuary of the media box ooh-ed and aah-ed as New Zealand unleashed their arsenal of skills. Fans can appreciate a team enacting the vision of captain Brendon McCullum and coach Mike Hesson by clicking through turnstiles or turning on televisions, regardless of result.

"They are No. 4 in the rankings, and it is not hyperbole to suggest their revolutionary brand could be a bargaining chip for extra away Tests"

Significantly, while this was New Zealand's fifth win in England across 54 Tests, this was the first in a Test starting during May. In six previous examples - 1965, 2004, 2008 (2), 2013 (2) - they had lost five and drawn one. Headingley provided redemption.

New Zealand had also lost eight Tests against England away and drawn one since their 1999 series triumph. The odds were stacked against them winning the second Test. Of the top-eight-ranked teams playing in England this century, New Zealand had the second lowest second-innings average of 204.22 leading in. They sat less than one run in front of the worst candidate, Pakistan, who were on 203.45. The average was 237.20. A mitigating factor is that none of New Zealand's Tests started later than June 5. Since 2001, Pakistan at least had the luxury of playing in July and August, when pitches favour batting more.

Declaring at 454 for 8 this time erased talk of a jinx. After yesterday's victory, one is reminded of New Zealand's first win in England, also at Headingley, in 1983. At the time, team member Jeremy Coney, a commentator for the 2015 series, said: "The main feeling was thinking of all the New Zealand players who have been coming here for 52 years, better players than myself, and making sure that their sweat and effort had not been in vain."

This New Zealand team sent a message to the future rather than the past. "I don't want to be disrespectful to those who have gone before," McCullum said in the build-up to the Test. "This is the best team I've been part of, but we're not the finished product."

New Zealand's approach comes with a gamble, but not at casino-like odds. Better to play with joie de vivre and be a desirable global commodity than beg for scraps of attention and sympathy.

Each team member contributed significant runs or wickets at Headingley. No one in the dressing room could feel empty about their personal performance.

McCullum insisted they could play the game the same as they did at Lord's, after seeing that Test slip from their control on the fourth day. He faced some opprobrium at home in the interim, despite calling for "no kneejerk reaction". He can afford to feel vindicated.

"[The approach at] Lord's was certainly how we want to play, but we were beaten by a better team. It's not easy to remain true to your beliefs when you're under pressure at 1-0 down in a two-Test series with a proud record [of six undefeated series].

"At times we were behind, like going to 2 for 2 after losing the toss, but we pushed on with aggressive intent. That gives us our greatest chance. It's not always going to come off, but we know how to win Tests when we play like this.

"You only get one crack at this [lifestyle playing international cricket] so you may as well play with freedom and enjoy it while you can. We'll never get near rugby, you're born trying to be an All Black, but we captivated our nation at the World Cup. If one or two extra athletes come through because of our approach, that's great for the game."

Both captains lamented the lack of a third Test. "We've got to earn the right," McCullum said. "Our performances over a period haven't been good enough to demand longer Test series."

"If you were a boxing promoter you'd be asking for a re-match right now," England captain Alastair Cook reciprocated. "The series was played in exactly the spirit which cricket should be played, it was a pleasure to be part of."

New Zealand Cricket must seize on such goodwill to ink in future contests while the going is so good.