Martin Guptill (70, 0, 0, 70) – Not entirely sure where his off stump is located but definitely knows exactly where the middle of his bat can be found. And that’s what he used twice, his careful carnage with Ross Taylor in the second innings at Headingley a brilliantly conceived and executed plan that swung a tight match New Zealand’s way.
Tom Latham (59, 0, 84, 3; 3ct, 2ct) – The quiet man amongst the Kiwi extroverts, he played two well-judged innings that allowed the strokemakers to express themselves at the other end. Answered the call to keep wicket at Lord’s after BJ Watling’s injury and then had to open the second innings too. Not surprisingly, that was too much; not surprisingly, he didn’t complain.
Kane Williamson (132, 27, 0, 6; 0-2, 0-5, 3-15) – New Zealand’s form batsman made a classy hundred at Lord’s that got his team’s nose in front, before three failures showed how the game can bite anyone on the bum. But, as Kiwis over the years have proved, he wasn’t to be denied another day in the sun, his off-breaks snaring Cook, Stokes and Broad as New Zealand charged towards the winning post and the series levelling win.
Ross Taylor (62, 8, 20, 48) – The ex-captain played for his team with a smile never far from his lips, his second innings 48 off 48 at Headingley worth much more than the numbers suggests, as he and Guptill wrested the initiative from the home side. Never looked in perfect nick, but still hits the ball hard on the legside and did his job to perfection.
Brendon McCullum (42, 0, 41, 55) – Is it too soon to talk of “McCullumism”? The will to attack and the big smiles where one has grown used to the big snarls, is a philosophy that is both attractive and successful. It was no surprise to hear English supporters interrupt his post-match interview at Lord’s with applause and few will begrudge this most engaging of men his drawn series. Didn’t get everything right as a captain (too attacking at times) nor as a batsman (ditto), though his 55 in his last innings of the series was exactly what his team needed. English fans will hope to see him again for a last hurrah in the World Cup, but it’s unlikely that he will captain a Test XI again on these shores. Vale Brendon… and thank you.
Corey Anderson (9, 67; 0-14, 0-13) – Met fire with fire when Ben Stokes went short to him, his pull into the Tavern Stand about as big a hit as I’ve seen at Lord’s. His injury allowed Luke Ronchi to come into the side and improve it, but Anderson will be back for the white ball stuff to which his game is more suited.
BJ Watling (61*, 59, 14, 120; 2ct) – Compact, watchful and positive, the wicketkeeper did not keep wicket, but he batted immaculately, his 120 in the second dig at Leeds a master class in how to pace an innings when setting a target. He came in with the lead 141 and left with it on 368 – job most definitely done.
Luke Ronchi (88, 31; 2ct, 2ct) – He must think Test cricket is a breeze. At 34 years of age, he has waited plenty long enough for a chance at the five day stuff and set about it like it was a one-dayer, smashing 88 in Gilchristian style off just 70 balls. Didn’t block many in the second dig either and his keeping was plenty good enough to meet the standard required these days.
Mark Craig (0, 4, 41*, 58*; 1-77, 1-96, 2-48, 3-73) – Looked short of Test class at Lord’s but showed that he was lacking only the rhythm every spinner needs with some lovely bowling at Headingley, usually considered a spinner’s graveyard. How Alastair Cook would have enjoyed calling upon a bowler with Craig’s control – but he couldn’t. Batted well and caught pigeons in the slips with a nonchalance that oozed confidence. A late starter in Test cricket, he looks here to stay.
Tim Southee (11, 20, 1, 40; 1-104, 2-162, 4-84, 1-43) – Straight off the plane from the IPL, he was searching for his line and length at Lord’s and got dragged into a muscle-off with Ben Stokes that the Englishman won. He was much better in Leeds, where his extra accuracy (and better thought-out lengths) did not stop him bowling the occasional jaffa that has always been his hallmark.
Matt Henry (10, 10*, 27, 12*; 4-93, 2-106, 1-92, 1-49) – A decent debut series for the quick who – like so many Kiwi bowlers (and I can go back to Cairns Snr) – enjoys a biff with the bat. He shares the same desire as England’s debut boy, Mark Wood, to bowl fast and hit the deck hard, but he’ll need to develop a game that can allow him to sit in when the going gets tough.
Trent Boult (0, 10, 15, DNB; 4-79, 5-85, 2-98, 2-62) – Consistently magnificent, swinging the ball past the bat at good pace and on challenging lengths, he was the class of the field on either side. Might not have the raw pace of a Mitchell (Johnson or Starc) but has the craft of a Zaheer Khan – and Zak did okay. Could easily have taken a couple more wickets in each innings, but never let his head drop, laughing as yet another play and miss denied him the edge for which he was searching. It’s not always easy to warm to the opposition quicks, but Boult was as much of a delight to watch as he was a menace to play.