One of the most dominant displays in New Zealand test cricket history has put the Black Caps in sight of ending their longest drought. The Black Caps wrapped up a crushing victory over South Africa within three days at Hagley Oval, triumphant by a whopping innings and 276 runs in the first test.
After destroying South Africa for 95 in their first innings, the Black Caps were just as ruthless in their second turn at bat, rolling them for 111 to secure just their fifth test win over the Proteas in 46 attempts, and first since 2004.
Should a sixth follow next week at the same venue, it will be the first series win against historically their toughest rival, and South Africa showed little to suggest the result will be any different with a second attempt.
There are some explanations for South Africa’s woeful performance; unexpectedly poor after an impressive series victory at home over India last month.
The overwhelming power of home advantage is the most obvious, with the Black Caps’ defeat to Bangladesh becoming more perplexing with every test that follows, and while the toss wouldn’t have changed this result, New Zealand haven’t lost a home test since 2009 when they’ve won the flip of the coin.
However, New Zealand’s impressive depth deserves the most credit for this destruction. Matt Henry, who may not even play the second test if Trent Boult returns, ended with nine wickets for the test and an unbeaten 50, while in the absence of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls stood up as the most experienced middle-order batsman with his eighth test century.
Ultimately though, there are few teams in the world who can match New Zealand’s potency on green seamers, and after the meltdown at the Mount, it would be negligent of New Zealand Cricket to not consider playing even more tests at Hagley, given the Black Caps haven’t lost a test at the venue since 2016 and have claimed five consecutive thumping victories in Christchurch.
That is mostly thanks to bowlers with a mastery of the conditions, something proven again on day three as they bowled South Africa out before lunch.
It took just two balls for a breakthrough, when Henry slipped a ball between Rassie van der Dussen’s bat and pad and knocked over his stumps, while Kyle Jamieson removed Zubayr Hamza to reduce South Africa to 46-5.
Temba Bavuma (41) and Kyle Verreynne (30) provided the only resistance but Neil Wagner’s introduction into the attack saw Bavuma trapped lbw third ball, and Southee lured Verreynne into slicing a delivery to third slip to expose the tail.
Wagner – whose nightwatchman efforts on day two made him the top-scoring South African in the test – picked up a second wicket, while Southee took two more to collect his 14th five-wicket bag in tests.