Kane Williamson has hailed a special performance from his New Zealand team after the Black Caps dismantled England in the first Test of a two-match series.
After BJ Watling (205) and Mitchell Santner (126) starred for New Zealand with the bat, Neil Wagner stole the show on Monday with a five-wicket haul to claim an innings-and-65-runs win at Mount Maunganui.
England had looked in a promising position at the end of their first innings, having accumulated 353, with Rory Burns (52), Joe Denly (74) and Ben Stokes (91) all registering half-centuries.
However, Williamson – who scored 51 himself – has put the difference between the sides down to the impact of Watling and Santner.
“To lose the toss and be 350 behind in the first innings required something special,” Williamson said. “And it was something special for 200 overs to get us into a position which gave us a chance.
“To get 600 gave us that opportunity to bowl last on that wicket, so a huge amount of credit goes to the way the middle-order built those partnerships.
“BJ Watling with 200 and Mitch Santner with his first Test hundred were incredibly valuable and hugely required. Colin de Grandhomme batted well, too.
“The pitch started to deteriorate which is what you want to see in Test cricket. But when you do see that you want to have won the toss. This is certainly right up there in terms of a tough, grinding Test victory.
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“Scores of 50 and 60 weren’t enough to turn the momentum from England’s first innings, it did require something large and for a long period of time and that’s what those guys did. It was a brilliant effort against a very strong England bowling attack.
“It was outstanding to see that middle order apply themselves like that. BJ is such a tough competitor and just cares about getting the team into a position to win cricket games. It goes a long way to him applying himself for near on 500 balls, which is an amazing effort. A lot of people wish they could bat 500 balls, including myself.
“It was a brilliant, brilliant performance and it took a huge amount of hard work. For BJ and Mitch to keep soaking up that pressure was outstanding and something that is clearly very hard to do for everybody.”
New Zealand’s victory was somewhat overshadowed by Jofra Archer stating he had received racist abuse from a spectator while walking off after he was dismissed for 30 towards the end of England’s second innings.
An investigation has been opened and New Zealand Cricket promised to apologise to Barbados-born Archer on Tuesday, ahead of the second Test in Hamilton three days later.