Cricket-'Best ever', Hadlee hails New Zealand's test world champions

Cricket - ICC World Test Championship Final - India v New Zealand - Rose Bowl, Southampton, Britain - June 23, 2021 New Zealand's Kane Williamson celebrates with the trophy and teammates after winning the final to because the ICC World Test Champions Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and its greatest cricketer Richard Hadlee led the tributes on Thursday after the Black Caps claimed the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) by beating India.

Kane Williamson's team became test cricket's first official world champions after prevailing by eight wickets in Southampton on Wednesday, the reserve day of a match plagued by bad weather.

"The Black Caps have made New Zealand proud. This was a masterful performance from a team at the top of their game and on top of the world," Ardern said in a statement.

"Kane Williamson and the team leadership have built a brilliant and humble squad who have become an inspiration to many New Zealanders.

"Over a number of years now we have seen the development of a team and team culture that has taken New Zealand cricket to world beating heights."

New Zealand have been to the semi-final of the 50-over World Cup eight times and lost the last two finals, in heartbreaking fashion to England on the boundary countback rule after the 2019 decider was tied.

Throughout those setbacks, New Zealand have continued to play in a spirit sometimes derided as "nice guy" cricket.

More importantly, they have won all but one match, a draw, in four test series since a 3-0 drubbing in Australia around the turn of 2020.

Hadlee, one of the greatest fast bowlers in the history of the game, said the New Zealand test team "thoroughly deserved" the title on the back of their recent form.

"Over the past two years, the Black Caps performances in the test arena have been outstanding with test match and series wins at home and abroad," the 69-year-old said in a statement.

"The whole team has shown a high degree of professionalism. Their skill sets have complemented each other to make them a complete playing unit.

"It's fair to say that this current group of players is the best in our history."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)

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