New Zealand were crowned the inaugural champions of the ICC World Test Championship. After two years of intense test cricket, it came down to India and New Zealand in the rain-affected final at Southampton. Two years after their World Cup heartbreak at Lords to England, the Kiwis overcame the final hurdle, winning their first ICC final since losses in the 2015 and 2019 World Cup.
The reserve day came in handy after severe rain affected majority of play over the first five days. But come the sixth day, rain was gone, the sun was shining and all eyes were on this showpiece contest to see if it could produce a result. The kiwis stepped up and produced a magnificent performance. With the ball, both teams were exceptional and it eventually came down to application in the batting.
India didn’t have even one player that crossed the fifty landmark and that eventually turned out to be the difference between the two sides. Here, I look back at some of the interesting statistics from the ICC World Test Championship final.
Mohammad Shami became the first Indian to take a four-wicket haul in the ICC finals. The previous best was Mohinder Amarnath’s 3/12 in 1983 WC final. This record dates back to 1975 and the first ever ICC Cricket World Cup.
After initial fears that Shami would be dropped from the team in favour of new fast bowling sensation Mohammed Siraj, he stepped up and produced one of the best fast bowling clinics in the match. He bowled quick, brought the ball in and even swung it away.
His economy rate of sub three coupled with the fact that he was the highest wicket taker among all Indian pacers, which includes Jasprit Bumrah, one of the world’s finest bowlers today and Ishant Sharma, a man with over 100 caps and 300 plus test wickets, shows just how good Shami really was.
With a five test series against England starting in August, Shami has surely cemented his place in the 11 for at least the first two matches.
Kane Williamson became the first Kiwi captain to score a 50 in an ICC final when he took his team to victory with an unbeaten 52 in the second innings. Before this, Williamson held the record with 30 runs in the 2019 World Cup final.
In other ICC finals that New Zealand have taken part in, their captains have fared poorly. Stephen Fleming scored only five in the 2000 Champions Trophy win against India, meanwhile Brendon McCullum scored consecutive ducks in the 2009 Champions Trophy Final as well as the 2015 World Cup final, both of which they lost to rivals Australia.
Williamson showed why he is considered one of the best batsman in the world after finishing as the leading run-getter for New Zealand throughout the World Test Championship, scoring 918 runs in 10 tests at an average of 61.25. Tom Latham finished a distant second, scoring 719 runs in 12 tests at an average of 37.84.
His resilience and ability to tire out the bowlers and waiting for them to make a mistake, helps him stand out from the rest. To score 49 and 52* not out in overcast conditions, against one of the best fast bowling line-ups in the world, running in with a Dukes ball in hand, on a pitch where even the world’s best batsman, Virat Kohli struggled, shows just how good Williamson truly is.
India’s Achilles heel
India have struggled to beat New Zealand in the past few years. Interestingly, New Zealand are unbeaten against India in their last seven matches against India in ICC events.
New Zealand’s last seven matches against India in ICC tournaments – ODI WC, T20 WC, Champions Trophy and WTC: W, W, W, W, Abandoned, W, W.
This is also the first time New Zealand has won three consecutive Test matches against India. They won at Wellington (by 10 wickets) & Christchurch (by 7 wickets) in February/March 2020 and now by 8 wickets at Southampton.
For a country with a population of only five million people to beat a country with over a billion cricket fans shows just how good the infrastructure and development is in New Zealand and how successful their pathway to international cricket is.
Kane Williamson is the face of Kiwi cricket at the moment, but they’ve produced world class cricketers in every generation: Brendon McCullum, Stephen Fleming, Shane Bond, Daniel Vettori, Martin Crowe, Richard Hadlee, John Wright and Craig McMillan just to name a few.
The Kiwis are currently the number one ranked side in Test and ODI cricket, while also ranked third in T20I cricket. The sheer level of their consistency and their ability to produce world class talent is worth admiration.
Jamieson’s Week to Remember
Kyle Jamieson had a final that dreams are made of. The 26-year-old taking part in only his eighth test for New Zealand, took a five-wicket haul in the first innings, setting up the win for his team.
In the process he became the first ever cricketer to take five wickets in an innings at the WTC Final. The six feet six inches tall boy from Auckland only made his debut in February 2020 against India, but has since risen up the ranks very quickly, averaging 42.67 with the bat and only 14.17 with the ball.
The young man has a bright future ahead of him and provided he can remain injury-free and focused on his game, he can impact a lot of games for the Kiwis in years to come and win many more ICC trophies. Hopefully the taste of his first ICC trophy has made him hungry for more.
Devon’s Dream Season
Devon Conway took the cricketing world by storm when he became the first ever visiting player to score a debut double hundred at Lords. He took that momentum into the WTC Final where he became the first ever player to score a fifty. This will surely be a month of cricket he will never forget.
Hailing from Johannesburg in South Africa, Conway moved to New Zealand for better opportunities in 2017 after continuously being snubbed by the South African team. He sold everything including his house and car and started afresh in New Zealand.
I played with Conway for Morecambe Cricket Club in 2017 and his focus and desire to succeed was instantly visible. That commitment to succeed has definitely paid off and hopefully the 29-year-old can only move from strength to strength going forward and add even more records to his name.