5 Jun 2015

Black Caps win ultimately an anti-climax

11:15 am on 5 June 2015

OPINION:The irony of New Zealand's historic first Test cricket win in England in 16 years is that they've slipped from third to fourth in the world rankings.

This latest Test victory means the series is drawn and finishes in an anti-climax, as there's no third Test.

The lack of a decider is one of the biggest talking points to come out of this thrilling but stunted series.

Fans, commentators and players alike are clamouring for more, with English pundits even suggesting, somewhat tongue in cheek, that the upcoming Ashes should be axed in favour of a seven-Test series against the Black Caps.

The Black Caps in celebration mode.

The Black Caps in celebration mode. Photo: Photosport

That can only increase pressure on England and the ICC to extend New Zealand Test series in future.

The way New Zealand played this second Test at Headingley said more about their development over the past couple of years - possibly more than any other match.

After losing the first Test at Lord's, a game they dominated at times, how they responded was always going to be a litmus test.

Previous New Zealand teams may well have capitulated in the second Test, having possibly felt robbed of an historic win at Lord's.

Not this side though. There's some mettle to this mob.

In both batting efforts at Headingley New Zealand posted good totals without relying on Kane Williamson, who has had to hold the batting effort together so often.

The former England captain Michael Vaughan has been effusive in his praise of New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum and his side, going to so far as to say they are revolutionising the game.

In his Daily Telegraph column Vaughan said, "New Zealand are my favourite team in the world to watch. They are flamboyant and provide thrilling entertainment thanks to an approach to Test cricket which could revolutionise how some other sides play the longer format."

High praise indeed, if a little over the top.

Yes, New Zealand are certainly having a positive impact on the way the game is being played.

New Zealand cricket captain Brendon McCullum (right) and his England counterpart Alastair Cook share the spoils.

New Zealand cricket captain Brendon McCullum (right) and his England counterpart Alastair Cook share the spoils. Photo: Photosport

They are enthusiastic - whether its batting, bowling or fielding.

McCullum is innovative with his captaincy skills, always willing to take a gamble to advance the game.

His instincts again served him well on the final day when they dismissed Ian Bell and Ben Stokes just before lunch.

He set-up Bell by bringing in a leg slip and tossing Kane Williamson the ball for the final over before the end of the session led to the downfall of Stokes.

But I feel the biggest impact the side is having comes from the manner the players carry themselves.

They look like a team. They're playing for each other and above all else they're enjoying it.

That positivity has rubbed off on England this series too.

The England captain Alastair Cook, who at times looks as though he's carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, has been seen cracking the odd smile.

England cricket captain Alastair Cook (right) appears to have the weight of the world of on his shoulders at times.

England cricket captain Alastair Cook (right) appears to have the weight of the world of on his shoulders at times. Photo: Photosport

England were much more assertive in their approach in the first test and it paid dividends.

Going into the final day of this second test England batsman Joe Root was adamant England would set about their record run chase in a positive fashion.

That never looked likely because the New Zealand bowling and fielding simply didn't allow them to get the opportunity.

New Zealand's lack of test match play ultimately came back to haunt them in the first test at Lord's.

The likes of Tim Southee and Trent Boult simply didn't have enough mileage on the clock to go straight from the Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition to five-day test cricket.

England on the other hand were in test match mode having recently returned from a drawn series in the Caribbean, even though hey had all sorts of off-field dramas ahead of the Lord's game.

Having had the run at Lord's, Headingley was a much stronger indication of where this Black Caps side is at.

Unfortunately just when the appetite has been whetted for test cricket, New Zealand don't don their whites again until November when they head to Australia for what will be the ultimate test of just how far they've come.

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