ANY GIVEN MONDAY
New Zealand has a bunch of cricketers whose beauty lies in the fact you know what you're going to get from them.
Neil Wagner will charge in all day, trying to impose his will on a test with a keg full of fast bowler's testosterone and an old ball delivered at just a fraction above medium pace.
Tim Southee will wobble the ball around even more slowly than Wagner, take every catch within his considerable wingspan and swipe the odd mindless six just for giggles.
BJ Watling will extract every last drop of juice from his lemon, wicketkeeping effectively rather than elegantly, then block and nurdle the Kookaburra into meek submission.
Captain Kane Williamson will sail the HMS Black Caps through rough seas.
You could go on, descending deeper into strained metaphors and simile.
Then you get to Mitchell Santner and things get a little more difficult.
What exactly should we expect from Santner, a man deep into his 28th year who does not look like he should be able to buy a six-pack of Vodka Cruisers from a bottle store without having to show two forms of ID?
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Is it the Santner who has largely watched his first 18 tests pass him by, or the Santner of day four at Bay Oval, unfurling a dynamic array of shots on his way to 126 and ripping out England's openers with turn and bounce?
One thing is certain: New Zealand will be a lot better side if this is the start of something, rather than the high point.
Despite being a staple in New Zealand's limited overs set-up, Santner has flattered to deceive in whites – this was the first time he had taken three wickets in an innings since September 2016 – but he has the opportunity to become an anti-Vettori version of Daniel Vettori for the next few years.
They both bowl left-arm orthodox spin and stand on the wrong side of the bat while taking guard in the lower middle order, but they could barely have picked different ways of getting to the same point.
Santner is a languid presence at the crease, with a long backlift that can make straight six-hitting seem absurdly easy yet can get him into trouble on the back foot. Vettori crouched low, tongue out, looking constipated and ever-so-slightly panicked while slicing everything behind point, particularly in his later years when he abandoned all pretense of getting into line.
Vettori made runs though. For a while there, in the dark years, you could make a case that he was New Zealand's most effective batsman behind Ross Taylor. He made tough runs in tough conditions. The weekend just gone was the first evidence that Santner might have a similar stomach for the fight.
Runs at No 8 are no longer considered a luxury. The entire pretext for Santner's elevation ahead of the well-performed Ajaz Patel was that he was a better batsman (and most certainly a better fielder, as was demonstrated by his stunning one-hander – wrong hand – to dismiss Ollie Pope).
Few teams can afford to carry a tail that starts at No 8, so his batting is crucial, but it is still his bowling that has to do the heavy lifting.
If Vettori had a weakness, it was his "reverse splits" as a spinner. In the fourth innings, when he should have been at his most effective, his average of 37.88 and strike rate of a wicket every 90 balls was worse than his overall career figures.
The sample size is still too small to make a hard and fast judgment, but Santner's figures are trending in the right direction. His fourth innings average of 22 is far better than his 38 overall, and a wicket every 52 balls is much better than 84.
After taking the first three wickets of England's innings, he probably expected a bag but he bowled without luck on the fifth day. It's been easy to be critical of Santner in the past but chiding him for going wicketless on day five of this test would be unduly harsh.
After all, there was Wagner, charging in making a nuisance of himself and stealing his thunder.
Like the rest of us, he would have expected exactly that.
A few random points from five days of dominance at Bay Oval.
1. New Zealand would not have won too many tests over the past decade when Williamson has scored less than 10 per cent of the team's runs and Trent Boult has taken a single wicket. That has to be a boon for the team to know they can not only win but dominate one of the best teams in the world when their best batsman and bowler are incidental figures.
2. Not that 51 is a bad score – not at all. Williamson probably looked more comfortable than any top-order player on that strip until he got a brute of a ball from Sam Curran.
3. It's never nice to isolate individuals when the team has been collectively brilliant but it is difficult to watch Jeet Raval's struggles at the moment and envisage a happy ending in Australia. His dismissal at the Bay Oval was dreadful and the lack of confidence he has at the crease seems to be replicated in the field, where he almost needs to be hidden. Hamilton looms as a big test in his career.
4. It's hard to know what to make of England at the moment. The top three looks lightweight by international standards, the spinner is average and the keeper had a shocker.
5. At a more fundamental level, there is no question Joe Root is England's best batsman but during the Ashes and again at Mt Maunganui he does not appear capable of making those around him better via strategy, tactics or man management. It's an easy, possibly facile, comparison to make but you watch the way the ODI team fights for each other and contrast it to the test team and the difference is stark.
6. By the end of the test, if you were driven nuts by watching the full-screen "Sky Sport" televisual curtain come down before and after every single replay then you weren't watching at all. Stop it already.
THE MONDAY LONG READ ...
I so didn't want to read this article on a team mascot . Then I started… and couldn't stop. From Vice.