Cricket: Young guns stand tallest in touring triumph

By David Leggat

Tom Latham. Photo / Getty Images
Tom Latham. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand's cricket players arrive home early on Thursday morning.

It's unlikely there'll be a bumper turnout at 5.45am but they deserve substantial acclaim for their test series win in the Caribbean.

The tour ended disappointingly in the second T20 against the West Indies in Dominica yesterday but that should not disguise the fine work achieved in their 2-1 series win.

New Zealand don't win much overseas. Their last overseas series victory against a major nation was also in the Caribbean 12 years ago, so these occasions should be celebrated.

It was a well-merited success, strong winning performances broken by below-par play in the second test at Trinidad. That they bounced back with spirit and desire for the deciding test told its own story about this team.

Pluses? There are a few.

Tom Latham made a strong fist of the openers' job. He looked to have the capability to apply himself without fretting if things weren't moving as swiftly as he'd like. The other end is most definitely a work in progress.

Kane Williamson advanced his standing significantly with his brace of centuries. He needs to get his bowling action rectified in London but you cannot fault his batting.

Jimmy Neesham continued a remarkable start to his test career, although his medium pace bowling was not as handy as hoped.

BJ Watling's stature and importance to the side continues to grow with his wicketkeeping and batting.

Tim Southee, Trent Boult and, when introduced for the deciding test, Neil Wagner all had moments of top class, while Mark Craig was the tour's find, an offspinner who took wickets and batted highly effectively.

Boult's fabulous effort on the boundary to dismiss Kieron Pollard yesterday also added to his reputation as a taker of dazzling catches.

What the tour did was show New Zealand are becoming a decent force on the test cricket landscape, and achieved without big contributions from the two senior figures, captain Brendon McCullum and batsman Ross Taylor. This was a series in which the younger men stood tallest.

Three series wins in a row deserve high praise. Their chance at a fourth comes in November in the United Arab Emirates against Pakistan.

It is a demanding assignment but these players, growing in self belief, should relish the challenge. The old days of fearing a daunting assignment seem beyond them right now.

Neesham and Ross Taylor are staying in the West Indies for stints in the Caribbean Premier League, with Guyana Amazon Warriors and Trinidad & Tobago's Red Steel respectively. Senior allrounder Dan Vettori is turning out for the Jamaica Tallawahs. The CPL starts on Friday.

- NZ Herald

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