2021 was another unforgettable year for New Zealanders — largely for the wrong reasons — but for the Black Caps and their fans, it’s one they will always cherish.
This year, the team, arguably the greatest in New Zealand cricket history, finally broke through by winning the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC).
The year started off with a comprehensive innings victory over Pakistan in Christchurch, with Kyle Jamieson continuing to announce himself as a world-class bowler with 11 wickets in just his sixth Test and captain Kane Williamson scoring 238.
Crucially, Australia’s historic series defeat to India in January and their slow over rate allowed New Zealand to qualify for the WTC final against India, scheduled initially for Lord’s in June.
In the meantime, the Black Caps rounded out the Kiwi summer with one-day and T20 matches against Australia and West Indies, which saw Devon Conway make his international debut before proving himself a world-class batsman.
The qualification for the final meant all eyes were on the Rose Bowl in Southampton to see who would be crowned Test cricket’s first ever champions after the historic six-day match.
New Zealand warmed up for the fixture by prevailing over England in a two-Test series in which Conway hit a double-century in his second Test. The series was most certainly a curtain raiser to the main event, which was shifted to Southampton because of Covid-19.
In a dramatic, low-scoring match, New Zealand’s quartet of quicks, Conway and Williamson starred as the Black Caps beat the weather, and the star-studded Indian side, on their way to recording an eight-wicket win late on day six.
The win was made all the sweeter after the heart-breaking defeat to England in the 2019 World Cup final. A photo of Ross Taylor and Williamson walking off the ground arm-in-arm after the successful run chase is one that will warm the hearts of Black Cap fans for years to come.
Jamieson was named man-of-the-match after taking seven wickets in the Test but the efforts of Tim Southee, Trent Boult, and Neil Wagner had the four-man attack being hailed the best in the world and even earning comparisons to the West Indies‘ fearsome attacks of the 1970s and 80s.
The historic triumph wasn’t the only piece of history for New Zealand in 2021, spinner Ajaz Patel etched his name in the record books by becoming only the third bowler to take all 10 wickets in a Test innings during an otherwise tough two-match series against India in December.
The Black Caps also proved they are a powerhouse in all formats by reaching the T20 World Cup final for the first time in November. They fell short to Australia in the decider despite more heroics from Williamson.
Opener Daryl Mitchell’s efforts in the tournament were a testament to his improvement in culture under coach Gary Stead where the team's performances seem to be greater than the sum of its parts.
Ultimately, though, 2021 will always be the year the Black Caps finally broke through to reach the summit of world cricket in what was the sweetest of victories.