There couldn’t have been two more deserving players in the middle than Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor when New Zealand were crowned the first World Test Champions on the reserve day of the World Test Championship final at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton. The Kiwis broke their 21-year wait for an ICC trophy and it felt like redemption for them given what had happened to them just two years back in the same country. After years of punching above their weight in these ICC tournaments, New Zealand now finally have a significant triumph they wanted on a world stage.
Kyle Jamieson’s Five-star WTC Final Show
For long the Kiwis are known as the nice guys who finish runners-up more often than not and lack the winning edge in these big matches. But on Wednesday in Southampton, they took the field with an intention to set things straight. Day six started with a draw as the most likely result but soon things started to unravel as new Black Caps sensation Kyle Jamieson’s morning spell turned the match on its head. Jamieson’s numbers in Test cricket seems too good to be true as he has taken international cricket by storm. New Zealand have for long wanted to find that perfect all-rounder and Jamieson is proving to be exactly that. He picked up the Man of the Match Award in this WTC Final and was vastly influential in New Zealand breaking their finals hoodoo.
The Brendon McCullum Era
It wasn’t just the cricket they have played over the course of this World Test Championship, but ever since Brendon McCullum took over in 2012 and the 45 all-out debacle in Cape Town, that the team started to change the brand of cricket it was playing in the past. McCullum introduced an aggressive style of cricket that other teams started taking note of. In the process, the Kiwis found a top-class bowling lineup of which they are reaping rewards in this World Test Championship.
2013 was the start of something special for the Kiwis under the inspirational leadership of McCullum. From 2007 to 2013, New Zealand won only 12 out of 57 Tests and had one of the worst win/loss ratios in the sport during that period. Post-2013, McCullum brought in consistency in team selection and started building a strong core that was fit for every format. The results started improving in Test cricket and it were soon transitioned into the 50-over format as well.
McCullum led them to the 2015 50-over World Cup Final in Melbourne. The tournament was co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia and both host nations made it to the final. Australia proved far too good for the Kiwis in the final but 2015 was just the stepping stone for something better.
World Cup 2019 Heartbreak
New Zealand came into the 2019 World Cup in England with a solid core but as always nobody backed them to come good in the competition. They were the dark horses coming into the tournament and soon, with the performances in the round-robin stage, people started taking note of this team led by the cool and calm Kane Williamson. They beat a strong Indian team in the semi-final to book a place in the final at the home of cricket, Lord’s against England, with both teams eyeing their first World Cup trophy. New Zealand were the much better team during this final and had plenty of chances to finish the game off but struggled to put the finishing touch to it. Eventually, it took a tie in stipulated 50 overs and a tie in the Super Over to announce England as the winners courtesy the boundary count rule. It turned out to be the cruellest way to lose any game let alone a World Cup final.
Redemption At Last
There were some major heartbreaks in that squad but seven of those players who tasted defeat at Lord’s got their redemption at Southampton in the World Test Championship Final. New Zealand have been a force to reckon with in Test cricket over the last few years and the fact that they top the Test rankings is proof of that. They thoroughly deserve to be the World Test Champions and it goes to prove that nice guys can finish first as well.
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