Kiwis are complete outfit and will give India a run for their money
Classy Kiwis tick all the boxes: New Zealand are the complete outfit and will give India a run for their money in World Test Championship final after draw against England at Lord’s
- New Zealand have long moved on from the stereotype of the Richard Hadlee era
- The Kiwis demonstrated their class with bat and ball in the draw at Lord’s
- Kane Williamson’s side are preparing to face India in the World Test C’ship final
- New Zealand may enter the Ageas Bowl final as favourites to win the crown
In the days of Richard Hadlee, the New Zealand attack was likened by Graham Gooch to ‘the World XI at one end and Ilford 2nds at the other’. If that felt harsh on Ilford 2nds, then things have moved on.
These days, it’s more like the World XI at both ends, and maybe even after the first bowling change, too.
Trent Boult, who has 281 Test wickets to his name, wasn’t even playing at Lord’s after requesting a trip home to see his family after a stint at the IPL. Yet his absence still left New Zealand with three bowlers who might all have kept Hadlee decent company.
New Zealand tick all the boxes and showed they are the complete outfit in Lord’s draw
Tim Southee quietly picked up six wickets in the first innings to beat his own record for his country’s best figures at Lord’s, while Kyle Jamieson’s back-of-a-length meanness, propelled by a 6ft 8in frame, made him unhittable.
Built like a lock forward, he has the accuracy of an accountant.
Neil Wagner was all over Dom Sibley before tea on Sunday, without ever resorting to his bang-it-in stereotype.
And his explosion of emotion on dismissing Joe Root as the game petered to a draw told of a man who competes as naturally as others breathe.
Even Colin de Grandhomme, whose mullet might encourage thoughts of a figure of fun, demands to be taken seriously. His match figures read 22-8-36-0, and meant England had no easy outlet. If spinner Mitchell Santner is no Dan Vettori, then he too had his moments outside the left-hander’s off stump.
Of course, this will come as a surprise only if you haven’t moved on from the 1980s. New Zealand reached the top of the Test rankings earlier this year (they have since been supplanted by India), and will soon contest the World Test Championship final against the Indians at the Ageas Bowl.
But for Friday’s washout, they might easily have won this game.
Tim Southee was the pick of a very strong bowling line up, taking six first innings wickets
The seamer ensured that the visitors did not miss leading man Trent Boult at Lord’s this week
And who, on this evidence, would back against them becoming the first world Test champions? After all, unlike India, their batsmen will have had two games to acclimatise to English seam and swing, and their bowlers time to get used to the unique properties of the Dukes ball.
It will be India, whose last three Test tours of England have produced 11 defeats and two wins, who may start as underdogs.
The strength of New Zealand’s batting was reflected by the ease with which they absorbed a rare double failure from their captain Kane Williamson.
The common wisdom is to describe him as a cut above his team-mates, just as Root towers over his — especially in a side lacking Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler.
But the three other regular members of New Zealand’s top five — Tom Latham, Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls — all average in the forties, while wicketkeeper BJ Watling and all-rounder De Grandhomme are in the late thirties. Devon Conway, meanwhile, has just scored 200 in his first Test innings.
Devin Conway led a very strong batting order and looked assured on his Test match debut
Kane Williamson’s batting line up resembles Andrew Strauss’ all-conquering side of 2010
In both their statistics and the stage of their evolution, this New Zealand side resemble the England team that triumphed in Australia in 2010-11, when each of Andrew Strauss’s top seven averaged at least 40, and knew their game inside out.
Only the off-breaks of Graeme Swann give England an edge over Williamson’s Kiwis. But there is little in it.
It is unlikely, too, that Strauss would have gambled as Williamson did with a lunchtime declaration that left England needing 273 in 75 overs.
New Zealand arrived here fielding questions about their previous game at Lord’s — the 2019 World Cup final, with its cruelty and heartbreak — and performed as if those questions were impertinent.
There was perhaps even a hint of condescension about the equation England faced. Stokes and Buttler, the batsmen who walked out to contest that super over two summers ago, were missing, and Williamson may have suspected there was little danger of defeat.
If so, he ended a match New Zealand have controlled with the moral high ground, as well as the knowledge that his opponents have more problems to solve before Thursday’s second Test at Edgbaston. Virat Kohli’s Indians may conclude they are in for a spot of bother too.
The Kiwis could enter their final with India at the Ageas Bowl as favourites to be champions
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