NZ Test stars send warning to Australia

Daniel Gilhooly
New Zealand's BJ Watling was one of the stars in the first Test win over England

Kane Willliamson has hailed the relentless qualities of Test specialists BJ Watling and Neil Wagner after New Zealand provided further evidence they'll mount a fierce challenge to Australia this summer.

Watling and Wagner aren't aesthetically correct cricketers but their match-winning deeds in the first Test against England underlined why New Zealand reside second in the world rankings.

Their innings triumph at Mount Maunganui means their two-and-half year unbeaten run in all Test series will continue, regardless the outcome of the second and final Test in Hamilton.

It also sent an early warning to Australia, who host the Black Caps in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, the first trans-Tasman Test meetings in nearly four years.

Since then, Williamson's men have shone in all formats with a barely-changed recipe that has become a Test juggernaut on home soil in particular.

The team so unfortunate to lose this year's World Cup final to England provided eight of the side at Mount Maunganui, with just Watling, Wagner and opener Jeet Raval added.

The former two showcased the never-say-die attitude that has made them such successful performers in the long form.

Williamson hailed wholehearted Wagner's final-day haul of 5-44 despite little help from a slow, worn-out pitch.

The aggressive left-armer carried a typically heavy load in the absence of the injured Trent Boult but he has made long, tireless spells his trademark and New Zealand will hope his methods work in what will be a first visit to Australia.

Watling's status as the best-performed batsman-wicketkeeper in Tests since Adam Gilchrist retired was cemented in place after becoming the ninth gloveman in Test history to compile a double century.

He took 11 hours to grind out 205, compiled in combination with allrounders Mitchell Santner (126) and Colin de Grandhomme (65) to swing victory New Zealand's way as they marched past 600.

Williamson told reporters the 34-year-old was an integral cog in their Test machine.

"He is such a tough competitor but just cares about the team so much to get them into a position to win cricket games," he said.

"It goes a long way to him applying himself for near on 500 balls which is an amazing effort. A lot of people wish they could bat 500 balls, including myself.

"It was a brilliant, brilliant performance and it took a huge amount of hard work."