The Black Caps have totally routed Zimbabwe, in the best possible start to the test cricket season. For only the third time in test cricket history, New Zealand took twenty wickets in less than a full day's play as they powered to a crushing victory.
The win by an innings and 301 runs is New Zealand's largest, and the eighth-biggest margin in history where the winning team has batted only once. And it's likely to raise questions about Zimbabwe's ability to compete at test level, especially away from home.
The Zimbabweans batted poorly yesterday; of that there is no doubt. But right from the start of their first innings, they were placed under pressure by an accurate New Zealand bowling attack, and an efficient fielding unit. It's only Zimbabwe's fourth test back since their exile from test cricket, and their first away from home, and that inexperience was ruthlessly exposed.
But let's take nothing away from the New Zealand bowlers. Veteran Chris Martin bowled superbly, knocking the top off the Zimbabwe side in both innings. His eight wickets for the match now places him alongside Christopher Cairns as New Zealand's third leading wicket-taker in tests, with 218. Martin received great support from Boult, Bracewell and Southee, and in those four New Zealand has an attack which will grow in confidence the more opportunities it has to play together.
And the bowlers were very well supported by a terrific fielding effort. Almost every chance that was offered was taken, and the sole "offender" Dean Brownlie redeemed himself with a stunning catch late in the match. Good fielding builds pressure for the bowlers, and that was well illustrated yesterday.
John Wright will be delighted by a strong team performance which bodes well for the season ahead. Let's hope that the new-look squad can play to a similar level in the shorter forms of the game which lie ahead.
And as for Zimbabwe; test cricket is a tough school. The Zimbabwe players need to learn from the lessons handed down to them in Napier over the last three days; tight bowling, disciplined batting and enthusiastic fielding. And they need to be playing test cricket, and plenty of it, even if they suffer some more big defeats along the way.
Well done New Zealand; but the next test will be tougher by far.