The Black Caps finished the year on a high after a thrilling test victory over Australia in Hobart.

Daniel Richardson of APNZ reflects on the other highlights of 2011 and looks at a busy time ahead.

That was then:

New Zealand cricket fans caught a glimpse of the future this year, and it looks promising. We've seen potential in the Black Caps before, only to be disappointed. This time it could be genuine.


As 21-year-old Doug Bracewell bowled the Kiwis to a famous test victory over Australia earlier this month, he did it alongside two other seamers who are likely to become fixtures in the national side for years to come.

Bracewell had support from Tim Southee, 23, and left-armer Trent Boult, 22. That trio and exciting batsman Kane Williamson, 21, may represent the future core of the team.

Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor, Dean Brownlie, all 27, and Martin Guptill, 25, are hardly past it, either, and only Chris Martin, 37, Daniel Vettori, 32, Reece Young, also 32 and Brendon McCullum, 30, are into their fourth decade.

Bracewell's 6-40 in the second innings of the Hobart test helped New Zealand to their first win across the Tasman since 1985. It was the sort of performance rarely seen by a man in a black cap and followed his match-winning five-wicket bag on debut against Zimbabwe.

With New Zealand set to play 19 tests during the next 18 months - a feast of five-dayers by their standards - they have plenty of chances to build on that and lift their world ranking from a lowly eighth.

The accent on test cricket will delight purists but might affect New Zealand's one-day game - they continued to punch above their weight when they progressed to the last four of this year's World Cup.

On the back of Southee's 18 wickets and Jesse Ryder's most important international knock, which came in the quarter-final win over South Africa, they defied everyone's expectations for the 50-over tournament.

Few gave them much chance after a horrible build-up but they turned things around under new coach John Wright, who was a popular choice to replace Mark Greatbatch, before they were ousted by Sri Lanka in the semifinals.

During the year they took the field for two 20-over hit and giggle clashes, 17 one-dayers and, disappointingly for those purists, only five test matches - one of which was against Zimbabwe.

There was a change of scene at the top with former New Zealand international David White replacing Justin Vaughan as chief executive after four years in the job.

And Martin Crowe caused a stir when he announced he would attempt to play first-class cricket for Auckland, despite being in his late-40s.

His comeback didn't last long, and he succumbed to injury after only two club games, but he managed to give his opponents and a groundsman an earful in that time.

In the women's game, the White Ferns lost the Rose Bowl to Australia and came last in a quadrangular 50-over series with Australia, England and India in June.

They also had to deal with the departure of world-class all-rounder and captain Aimee Watkins, who retired after a decade of playing internationally. Suzie Bates was chosen as her replacement.

This is now:

It seems bizarre that New Zealand play no international cricket over the Christmas break but they should enjoy an extra portion of turkey because there won't be much time to rest over the next 18 months.

Zimbabwe and South Africa tour this summer and it marks a busy period with 19 tests over a year and a half.

Tours to the West Indies, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa and England are interspersed with home series against Zimbabwe, South Africa and England and it will give the present crop of youngsters chances to forge an identity.

They aren't guaranteed selection, though, with the impending eligibility of Otago pace bowler Neil Wagner. The South African-born left-armer will be able to represent New Zealand in April and he set tongues wagging when he took five wickets in an over against Wellington in a Plunket Shield clash last summer.

Youngsters Adam Milne and Ben Wheeler are also threatening at domestic level.

There's still plenty of limited overs cricket on offer and in September the Black Caps head to Sri Lanka to contest the Twenty20 world championships, which could be Jacob Oram's last before retirement.

Story of the year:

Test victories over Australia are rare, but to win across the Tasman is something else.

Despite being over inside four days, the Hobart match was a great advertisement for test cricket.

The Kiwis - spearheaded by Doug Bracewell - claimed a remarkable seven-run win to level the two-match series after they were soundly beaten at the Gabba the week before.

Quote of the year:

As New Zealand were rolled for 150 in the first innings of the test against Australia in Hobart, the ever-witty Scott Styris posted this on his Twitter account after a day on the golf course: "Disappointed to hear I'm probably the only New Zealand cricketer to score a hundred today."

Player of the year: Daniel Vettori. The ultra-consistent left-armer, is now not only our most reliable bowler but a valued batsman who can be classed as a genuine all-rounder in all forms of the game. He never seems to have a bad match.