Black Caps can rejoice at overdue triumph

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 02/07/2014
Denesh Ramdin
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The New Zealand cricketers celebrate the wicket of Denesh Ramdin with Tim Southee on the final day of the third test against the West Indies in Barbados.
Neil Wagner
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OUTTA HERE: New Zealand bowler Neil Wagner celebrates the dismissal of West Indies batsman Sulieman Benn.

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Only the bold and the brave survive.

Having gambled an on overnight declaration, New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum hailed his team's fighting spirit as they belted out their team song in the Barbados dusk.

Black Caps and management formed a huddle on the Kensington Oval pitch and ripped into Black and White, a song they've now sung after five of their last eight tests. This was the most significant, a clincher in the Caribbean and their first overseas series victory against a top-eight side in 12 years, since they first cracked it in the West Indies in 2002.

"The most pleasing aspect is that we weathered that storm, we were behind for a long time and we kept clawing our way back and showing those fighting qualities that we want to be known for," McCullum said after their 53-run victory in the third and deciding test.

"To develop a lead and make a bold declaration to chase something pretty elusive, a series win away, is really satisfying from a captain's point of view - to see guys standing up in tough circumstances and giving us a real shot. I'm so proud of these guys, I can't talk highly enough of their attitude."

After New Zealand dominated the first test at Kingston, the tide turned and West Indies won the next seven days of the series. It swung back via a lion-hearted Neil Wagner spell, which restricted the hosts' lead to 24, a career-best 161 not out by Kane Williamson and a rapid Jimmy Neesham cameo, then a ruthless final day bowling effort led by the old firm of Tim Southee and Trent Boult.

It was indeed a bold declaration. West Indies required 308 off 98 overs on a fast outfield with the dangerous Chris Gayle limbering up. The pitch was variable but not crumbling. Rain threatened, and twice forced the players from the field. But after the floodlights came on, the sun emerged and New Zealand skittled their hosts for 254 with 13 overs left when Boult ripped in a brutal yorker to Jerome Taylor.

"People challenged, are we just a team that can play well at home, are we good enough to play away from home, how good is this team? We're showing how good we can be, but we're nowhere near the finished product," McCullum said.

There were a few individuals to be singled out.

Williamson was player of the series after scoring 413 runs at 82.6, including centuries in New Zealand's two wins.

A month short of his 24th birthday, Williamson's average ticked into the 40s, and his seven centuries matches Martin Crowe at the same age.

"He's the most selfless man. He's all about what the team needs. His innings was sublime in trying circumstances," McCullum said.

Opener Tom Latham, all-rounder Neesham and debut spinner Mark Craig were all big movers, while McCullum glowed about Southee and Boult who snared six second innings wickets between them.

"I wouldn't change them for anyone in the world.

"Those two guys have done it for us the last 18-24 months; they're world-class and they bowled brilliantly together."

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- The Dominion Post

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