ANY GIVEN MONDAY:
The man of the match selectors got it wrong at Hagley Oval.
Kyle Jamieson was a cute pick, picking up in Christchurch where he left off in Wellington, securing a five-for and a 49 and in the process proving the selectors right in picking an all-seam attack.
He wasn't the most important player of the game though: that would be Thomas Latham who somehow managed to score a pair of 52s in some of the sketchiest conditions he'll ever have to encounter against the new ball.
• Dylan Cleaver: From Gary Stead to dwindling Super Rugby numbers - New Zealand sport's latest obsession is not a great look
• Top five columns of 2019: Dylan Cleaver
• Dylan Cleaver: The creeping belief that could cost Black Caps coach Gary Stead the dressing room
• Dylan Cleaver: Why rugby sabbaticals have to die
Those runs were worth at least double in any other test.
That just wasn't a fair wicket. There were times when it was borderline impossible to bat.
There was such a thick mat of grass on the wicket the seam would grip into the surface and change direction at extravagant angles.
Because the wicket block was so lush, ball maintenance was simple, so even when the ball was ageing the bowlers were able to keep one side of it in mint condition. The result was tremendous swing allied to extravagant seam. Never was this more evident than the second evening when Trent Boult was getting the ball to curve around corners.
When you marry those conditions to two beautifully balanced, skilful pace attacks you get a test where every second ball is beating the inside or outside edge of the bat – and really that was the best result the batsmen could hope for.
It made for a strange game. You could admire the skill and work ethic of the seamers while acknowledging the massive advantage they were handed. There didn't seem to be much point getting attached to any of the batsmen because you always knew they were one impossible delivery from departing.
What was also strange was that just a few months ago, at the start of one of the sunniest summers of my lifetime, New Zealand's curators were standing accused of homicide having tried to kill test cricket at Bay Oval, Mt Maunganui, and Seddon Park, Hamilton, when England toured.
"If we want this sport to be viable, and if you take out the travelling England supporters, there's a couple of dozen people here today," said Cricinfo's George Dobell.
"That is not sustainable and the reason it's not sustainable is New Zealand is creating these pitches and they'll kill test cricket…
"I don't think this is conducive to modernity. People aren't watching this."
There was a valid point to be made there among the hyperbole but give me that first test at Mt Maunganui any five days of the week over what occurred over the past fortnight.
There were five fifties scored in that test, two centuries including a double to BJ Watling, and spin came into play on what was the third and final innings of the match. The seamers took the majority of the 29 wickets to fall.
The keepers might not have been consistently taking the ball above their heads but there was something for everyone.
In Christchurch there was something for aficionados of the play-and-miss.
Conditions weighted heavily in favour of the home side, or heavily in favour of the team winning the toss as was the case here, are devaluing test cricket.
Don't shed any tears for India, who have not been afraid to prepare pitches that turn square on day one, but do spare a thought for those of us who prefer their cricket when batting is something more than a lottery.
There is no point preparing a test wicket that will still have something to offer the seamers on day five if there's no hope of the test lasting more than three days.
MYTHS in cricket can be hard to shake. After my love letter to Tim Southee last week I received correspondence from somebody who simply stated that the reason people don't like Southee is because, to paraphrase, he doesn't do the hard yards and gets a bunch of cheap wickets at the tail.
I've heard this criticism of Southee before but the stats really don't bear it out.
Before this week's test he had taken 279 test wickets and 182 of them had been numbers one to six in the order, or 65.2 per cent of his wickets.
By contrast Neil Wagner, who nobody would ever accuse of not putting in a shift, had taken 116 top six wickets, or 57.8 per cent of his 204 total.
Another myth that probably warrants further attention is the idea that Watling always scores tough runs. This is clearly a subjective topic, but I would argue he's become a flat-track specialist of late and is probably overdue some tough runs.
THE MONDAY LONG READ ...
Brooks Koepka is actually quite interesting, for a golfer. From GQ.