LONDON, (Reuters) – They came, they saw and they did not conquer but New Zealand put everything out there on a magnificent five-week tour of England in which they earned many plaudits for the way they played the game.
Brendon McCullum’s side drew a high-quality test series 1-1, lost a stunning one-day battle 3-2 and went down in the only Twenty20 international, making friends all along the way for the brand of cricket they played and their attitude.
They also single-handedly dragged their opponents into a new era.
England, reeling from a dismal World Cup campaign and a disappointing 1-1 test series draw in West Indies, simply had to hit the ground running in the first test at Lord’s with the Ashes series looming.
An hour into the match, they had slumped to 30 for four and the doom-mongers were poised.
But a brilliant counter-attack from Joe Root and Ben Stokes changed the game around and captain Alastair Cook’s gutsy second innings century set up a superb England victory.
New Zealand, however, fought back in the second test in Leeds and BJ Watling’s fine hundred backed up by superb bowling and catching sealed a well-deserved draw in the series.
New Zealand, World Cup runners-up, started the one-dayers as strong favourites against a side who had failed to get past the first round in the global tournament.
But England had a new mind-set and the shackles were off.