LEEDS, England, June 3 (Reuters) - New Zealand did more than enough against England to prove they are worth much more than a two-test series shoe-horned into the schedule as a tasty appetiser before the Ashes.
Supremely positive, aggressive and efficient, the Black Caps amply justified their status as the world’s third-ranked test side in a 1-1 draw with their hosts which fluctuated from the first ball to the last.
New Zealand are a team to be reckoned with.
Martin Guptill and Tom Latham form a contrasting and exciting opening partnership.
Kane Williamson at number three has a water-tight technique and the potential to be one of the world’s finest batsmen.
Ross Taylor, a class act at number four, showed a welcome return to form after a barren run and captain Brendon McCullum is simply one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket.
But there is much more.
BJ Watling, Luke Ronchi and Mark Craig combine in a middle-order capable of adapting to any match situation. Corey Anderson adds another attacking dimension.
The tail can more than wag too with Tim Southee, Matt Henry and Trent Boult all capable of scoring quick runs against a tiring attack.
That trio form also provide a penetrative and versatile pace bowling attack.
Left-armer Boult is quick and hostile while Southee hits the deck hard and gets movement in the air and off the pitch.
Henry is a more than useful third seamer, fast, accurate, and consistent enough to give his captain an element of control.
Craig is an under-rated spinner, economical, naggingly accurate and a weapon especially against left-handed batsmen.
New Zealand also excel in the field.
Taylor, Craig and Guptill are a ruthlessly efficient slip-catching unit, Watling or Ronchi quietly efficient wicketkeepers and McCullum sets an example in energetic outfielding which constantly keeps opponents under pressure.
Make no mistake about it. New Zealand, World Cup finalists this year, are the real deal.
After years of punching above their weight, they deserve to be recognised as one of the forces in the modern game.
Editing by Toby Davis