“Outstanding”. “Fantastic”. “Very special”.
Those were just some of the words used to describe New Zealand’s eight-wicket win over England at Edgbaston – and their first Test series triumph in the country in 22 years.
New Zealand, who first toured England in 1931, had won only two of their previous 17 series, and five of 55 Tests, in the country – which made this comprehensive victory inside four days all the more memorable.
“It was well documented that we hadn’t won here since 1999, so to come here and win was really pleasing,” said Tom Latham, who captained New Zealand in the absence of the injured Kane Williamson and hit the winning runs on Sunday.
“It is such an amazing place to come and play Test cricket. It’s important to celebrate those achievements.”
Williamson, who was resting an elbow problem, said it was a “fantastic performance”.
And Devon Conway, player of the series after scoring 306 runs in his first two Tests, summed up the mood in the New Zealand camp: “It’s very special to win here in England and it’ll take some time for that to sink in.”
New Zealand made six changes for the second Test in Birmingham, with one eye on their World Test Championship final against India which starts at the Ageas Bowl on Friday.
They changed their entire bowling attack, lost the toss and failed to take a wicket in the opening session. Yet they won with five sessions to spare.
New Zealand restricted England to 303 before making 388. A sensational bowling and fielding display helped the Black Caps bowl England out for 122 in the second innings, leaving them only 38 for victory.
“We were fantastic,” said Latham. “We were outstanding over the four days. Everyone who came in did their roles.”
England captain Joe Root said his side had been “schooled” on the art of batting, while former skipper Michael Vaughan had nothing but compliments for the tourists.
“New Zealand are a high-class cricket team,” he told BBC Test Match Special. “I like every aspect of their game. They bat with a great maturity; they read the situation perfectly.”
Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, who won only one of his 10 Tests in England from 2004 to 2015, savoured the moment…
And New Zealand’s triumph did not go unnoticed in other parts of the world.
New Zealand’s attention now turns to the inaugural WTC final to decide which of the two top-ranked sides in the world can claim to be the best.
“Our preparation has been outstanding,” said Latham. “We couldn’t have asked for anything better.
“It is going to be a great game and an exciting week.”
Williamson predicted a “big challenge” against an India side that will be captained by Virat Kohli.
Having used 17 players in two Tests against England, Williamson said there will be “a few conversations over the next few days” about selection.
Latham said: “India are a quality side. Their bowling attack is fantastic and they’ve got a lot of great batsmen.”
On the evidence of the past week, the same could easily be said about New Zealand.