For a captain who'd waited over a year for his first test win, Brendon McCullum never thought it would be quick, or easy.
But that's exactly what the New Zealand skipper labelled it, after the team enveloped man of the match Trent Boult when he skittled West Indies tailender Shannon Gabriel just before 4.30pm at the Basin Reserve yesterday.
Sixteen West Indies wickets had just tumbled in the space of 60.3 overs on day three of the second test, ushering in New Zealand's innings-and-73-run victory. There's been some low points and McCullum has polarised many, but the only tough part of this day was when he considered enforcing the follow-on. There were dissenting voices from the bowling group so he had to call it.
"There was some doubt there, and I've always been a fan of, if in doubt, take the aggressive option. These guys responded brilliantly," he said.
So, one year and one week after he succeeded Ross Taylor, a smiling, relaxed McCullum basked in the feeling, after 10 tests without a win including agonising near misses in Auckland and Dunedin.
He led the team to the centre of the Basin Reserve an hour later as they belted out their team song, Black and White, which borrows the opening line from Robert Herrick's famous poem: "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may". In other words, seize the day.
The words are pinned to the dressing room wall but this was its first airing since November 2012 in Colombo. Hamish Rutherford, birthday boy Corey Anderson, Neil Wagner and Ish Sodhi were first-timers.
"It's all right when you win. The captaincy side of it was pretty easy because these guys kept bowling brilliant balls and kept putting them under pressure. I always felt like we were on top."
New Zealand began the day with their noses in front, but the haste of the West Indies' demise was staggering and will leave them broken heading into Thursday's third test in Hamilton, 1-0 down.
They resumed on 158-4 with Marlon Samuels in full flight on 50 not out, still trailing New Zealand by 283.
The Basin was a haven for New Zealand test teams with 14 victories, but the well had run dry. Their past seven visits had come up empty in the win column, since the Bangladesh stroll of 2008.
A muggy morning with heavy cloud cover, and a brisk northerly blowing from the RA Vance Stand end created the perfect storm for Boult.
He bowled full and straight, the ball swung and the West Indies batsmen either weren't up to it or couldn't contain their attacking instincts. Five wickets in 15 balls was Boult's count in a career-best haul of 6-40, as the tourists folded for 193.
The West Indies follow-on began in slow motion as Boult and Tim Southee were given just two overs apiece. Openers Kirk Edwards and Kieran Powell added 74 then it turned with intense spells from Southee and Neil Wagner, who'd tried too hard but finally found his range.
Boult took a magnificent diving catch off Anderson, then returned and mopped up the tail for his 10-wicket bag. West Indies lasted just five more overs in their second innings and their 11,000-run man, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, stood bemused, 31 not out. It was nearly two years since New Zealand's last test win at home, against Zimbabwe in Napier, and four years since the last against a major nation, against Pakistan in Dunedin.
"We played near on the perfect test match. I know the guys will enjoy a couple of quiet ones," said McCullum, whose bowlers recovered from a huge workload in Dunedin when the follow-on didn't quite come off.
"It's testament to how fit and strong these [bowlers] are and also how much desire they've got to perform for their country. It's very sweet any time you win a test match, and winning at the Basin is incredibly satisfying."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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