In a year where the BLACKCAPS became the number one ranked T20 side in the world, there were plenty of highlights to savour.

While the WHITE FERNS run at the World Cup ended sooner than anyone would’ve liked, their players stamped their mark on T20 leagues around the world.

We’ve trawled the tapes, read the match reports, and dug in to the memory banks to come up with our First XI highlights of the year that was for these two sides and their players.

From record-equaling to record-breakers, ODIs, Tests, and T20 leagues, whatever the format, wherever the match, these moments will live long in the minds of many fans.

How do these moments stack up for you? Have we found the one that resonates, or is there something else that stands out as a highlight of 2017?

Bangladesh have been common visitors to our shores in the last decade. While they haven’t enjoyed a great deal of success here, they’ve been more than a thorn in the BLACKCAPS’ side when we’ve toured there. After the first two days of the opening Test at Wellington in January 2017, they would’ve been fairly confident they could enjoy a win on New Zealand soil. In what would turn out to be one of the great Tests, Kane Williamson and his side had other ideas.

1st Test v Bangladesh
14 January 2017

Winning the toss and bowling has become the norm at the Basin Reserve, where recent Tests have seen highlighter green pitches become the talking point ahead of Tests at the ground. It was no surpise, then, that Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to field.

His choice was rewarded inside four overs as Tim Southee removed Imrul Kayes. Bangladesh strung together a couple of 50+ partnerships before the BLACKCAPS responded with wickets to keep in check as they reach 160 for 4. The fourth wicket brought Shakib Al Hasan together with his captain, Mushfiqur Rahim, and the pair set about rewriting Bangladesh’s record books.

In a partnership that spanned more than 80 overs and nearly 500 balls, the pair put on 359 – a Bangladesh record and the fourth-highest ever for the 5th wicket. Mushfiqur Rahim fell for 159 while Shakib Al Hasan eventually played on for 217 – Bangladesh’s highest Test score. The declaration came an hour in to Day 3 with the score at 595 for 8 as five Bangladesh batsmen would pass 50 in the innings.

The BLACKCAPS’ reply saw them tally 539 with four of their batsman also passing 50 and a fifth, BJ Watling, hit 49. Their innings was built around opener Tom Latham, who hit a career-best 177 in batting through 110 overs. Their innings ended on the fourth day and, after Bangladesh reached stumps at 66 for 3 – a lead of 122 – anything other than a draw looked unlikely.

A fired-up BLACKCAPS’ bowling line-up had other ideas and, after removing first innings hero Shakib Al Hasan in the first full over of the day, an examination of short-pitched bowling from the quicks saw Bangladesh all out for 160. The other man of the moment, Mushfiqur Rahim, already struggling with a finger injury, was forced from the field after a bouncer hit him on the back of the helmet. While he left the pitch in an ambulance, he was cleared of any serious injury. Imrul Kayes had also retired hurt on Day 4, but returned to bat with the tail, finishing unbeaten on 36*.

The BLACKCAPS would need 217 to win in 57 overs and, after both openers fell with the score in the 30s, many still saw a draw as the most likely outcome. Williamson had other ideas as he took control of the run chase with Ross Taylor playing the support role, much as he did in his partnership with Martin Guptill in the BLACKCAPS’ ODI against South Africa a couple of months later.

As the target came in to sight, so too did Williamson’s 15th Test century. The crowd were well aware of the Williamson milestone, cheering every dot off the bat of Henry Nicholls, and every run off Williamson’s bat. When he eventually reached his century, it was the fourth-fastest in a final innings chase, and it sealed an amazing come-from-behind win for the BLACKCAPS.

Kane Williamson in action at the Basin Reserve. Photo: Mike Lewis

The Eden Park match-up between Australia and the BLACKCAPS at the 2015 Cricket World Cup was one of the games of the tournament, in spite of it being a low-scoring affair. The following year, the BLACKCAPS flexed their muscles at the ground to record their second biggest win over Australia, 159 runs. In 2017, we got a little of both.

BLACKCAPS Overcome Stoinis
1st ODI v Australia
30 January 2017

Aaron Finch won the toss for Australia and put the BLACKCAPS in to bat. After losing Tom Latham early, Martin Guptill combined with Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor in 50-run stands before he fell to Marcus Stoinis for 61. Neil Broom (73) and Jimmy Neesham (48) then took control of the innings before Trent Boult belted 16 off 7 to push the total to 286.

Marcus Stoinis, in his first ODI since 2015, was the pick of the Australian bowlers with 3 for 49. It was just the start of his day, however.

Trent Boult looked set to repeat his World Cup effort as he claimed both openers early. With Lockie Ferguson also claiming two and Tim Southee and Mitch Santner each taking one, Australia had fallen to 67 for 6 and the BLACKCAPS were eying up another huge Eden park win.

Stoinis, with James Faulkner, Patrick Cummins, and Mitch Starc, carried his side through to 226 for 9, sitting on 98* himself. Needing 61 off 7 overs with just Josh Hazelwood’s wicket left, Stoinis had played one of the great innings but even the most ardent supporter of the green and gold would’ve thought it was in vain at that point.

Over the next 26 minutes, however, Stoinis almost did the unthinkable. After bringing up his century, he rotated the strike so successfully that Hazelwood never faced a single ball in a partnership that passed 50. The BLACKCAPS grew increasingly desperate, using up a review and messing up a run out.

In the 46th over, Stoinis hit consecutive sixes off Tim Southee to take Australia to 280. One more and the scores would be tied and, at that point, few would’ve bet against Stoinis doing it. Step up Kane Williamson.

Southee delivered the pinpoint yorker for the over’s final ball, Stoinis defended to Williamson at short mid-on while Hazelwood looked for the run that would continue to keep him off strike. Williamson swivelled, fell, and underarmed the ball directly in to the stumps with Hazelwood out of his ground.

The BLACKCAPS had won one of the most remarkable ODIs played on our shores, largely thanks to the bat of an unheralded Australian.

At Eden Park’s Outer Oval on February 26th, Australian captain, Meg Lanning, won the toss and opted to bat first in 2017’s opening Rose Bowl ODI. Less than 50 overs later, Lanning’s side were all out for 275 as Beth Mooney hit an even 100 and Rachel Haynes and Elyse Villani each scored half that. For the WHITE FERNS, Lea Tahuhu took four wickets to help keep Australia in check as 300 looked on the cards. While the side would’ve been happy to keep them under that mark, it was still going to take a record chase to win the match.

WHITE FERNS Win & Satterthwaite’s Record
1st ODI v Australia
26 February 2017

Thankfully for the WHITE FERNS, their side included the world’s most in-form batter, Amy Satterthwaite. Having ended 2016 with three consecutive centuries, Satterthwaite was on the brink of history. She was already the only woman to have achieved that feat but one more would put her alongside Kumar Sangakkara as the only players in ODI history with four in-a-row.

The WHITE FERNS’ reply started well as openers, Rachel Priest and Suzie Bates, put on 55. Satterthwaite came to the crease to join Bates and the pair added another 41. Continuing the string of partnerships, Satterthwaite and Katey Martin hit 74 to leave the WHITE FERNS needing 103 off the last 15 overs.

Although Sam Curtis’ innings was short, Katie Perkins showed her experience to bat with Satterthwaite and push the team 77 runs closer to the target. When she fell with the score at 255, the WHITE FERNS needed 21 off 21 and Satterthwaite needed 11 more of her own for history. Some smart strike rotation from Anna Peterson, and a series of boundaries from Satterthwaite saw her raise her bat and New Zealand record a famous victory.

2017 started with frustration for Martin Guptill as an injury to his left hamstring kept him out of two Chappell-Hadlee ODIs before a right hamstring strain kept him out of the opening limited overs internationals South Africa. When he did return, for the series’ 4th ODI at Hamilton on March 1, he immediately showed the class that makes him one of our best ODI players.

Martin Guptill’s 180
4th ODI v South Africa
1 March 2017

2017 started with frustration for Martin Guptill as an injury to his left hamstring kept him out of two Chappell-Hadlee ODIs before a right hamstring strain kept him out of the opening limited overs internationals South Africa. When he did return, for the series’ 4th ODI at Hamilton on March 1, he immediately showed the class that makes him one of our best ODI players.

After struggling through to 143 for 5, the BLACKCAPS let South Africa get away as they blasted 83 off the last six overs to finish on 279. Although Seddon Park has seen some high-scoring games in recent years, many thought that South Africa’s total was well above par and would be well beyond the BLACKCAPS.

Martin Guptill had other ideas.

While his opening partner, Dean Brownlie, fell cheaply and Kane Williamson went with the score at 77, Guptill’s scoring rate never dropped, reaching 50 off 38 balls and 100 off 82. He found an ally in Ross Taylor, whose 66 off 97 was the perfect foil to the hard-hitting Guptill.

After reaching 100, Guptill hit another 7 sixes to tally 11 in total. Alongside 15 fours, his 180* featured 126 runs in boundaries. On a pitch that was two-paced and taking turn, and after a month on the sidelines, Guptill rated this among his best innings. His captain, Williamson, deemed it “world class”.

The BLACKCAPS won by 7 wickets with 5 overs to spare, levelling the series at 2-2 off the back of one of the great ODI innings.

In the WHITE FERNS’ pool match against the West Indies at the 2017 World Cup, it was a case of Leigh Kasperek setting them up before Rachel Priest knocked them down. In their next outing against Pakistan, Hannah Rowe stepped up with the ball before Sophie Devine looked to one-up her Wellington teammate.

Priest & Devine’s 50s
Cricket World Cup
July 2017

After crushing Sri Lanka in the tournament opener, with Suzie Bates living up to her star billing with a century, the WHITE FERNS saw their game against South Africa rained out. Worse was to come in their next outing as they lost to Australia, leaving their tournament hopes teetering. A win over the West Indies became mandatory, with any opportunity to improve the vital Net Run Rate calculation needing to be taken.

Kasperek, the right-handed offspinner, opened the bowling with Lea Tahuhu as the pair shared six wickets between them. Claiming the big scalps of Stafanie Taylor, Deandra Dottin, and Merissa Aguilleira, Kasperek finished with 3 for 17 off her ten overs. The West Indies were all out for 150, opening the door for the WHITE FERNS to take the Run Rate opportunity.

Priest, opening the batting with Bates, kicked down the door in an absolute assault on the West Indies’ bowlers. Seven of the first nine balls Priest faced went to the fence then, in the 8th over of the chase she hit two sixes and a four to bring up her 50. Coming off just 29 balls, it set a new record for the WHITE FERNS in World Cups.

While she would fall for 90, with the score at 120, Bates and Katey Martin guided the WHITE FERNS to an 8-wicket win in just 18.2 overs.

While that result boosted New Zealand to fourth place, keeping pace with the top performers meant continuing to strongarm their opponents. With Pakistan on the cards just two days later, it was another chance for a WHITE FERNS’ batter to show their power.

Just as they did against the West Indies, Bates and her team took to the field first with Tahuhu and Kasperek matching each other’s efforts in taking 2 for 35. This time the best figures, however, came from the side’s youngest bowlers as seamer Hannah Rowe (3-22 on World Cup debut) and spinner Amelia Kerr (2-27) backed up the openers and helped dismiss Pakistan for 144.

Amy Satterthwaite, in an effort to get some crease time, opened the batting with Priest who couldn’t back up her West Indies’ heroics, falling with the score at 12. Coming in at three, Sophie Devine’s innings started very sedately, taking just one run from her first five balls. That was about as much respite as Pakistan got as she slammed 92 off the next 36 balls she faced.

Her 50 came up off 27 balls, handing Priest one of the shortest record-holding terms ever, although 12 of those were dots. After reaching her half century, Devine’s innings looked like this:

. 6 1 1 6 4 6 6 1 4 6 1 1

Although she was dismissed short of victory, she added the most sixes hit in a women’s ODI to her record rap sheet. Satterthwaite hit the ball after Devine was dismissed for four and the WHITE FERNS sealed a 9-wicket win in exactly 15 overs.

The explosive batting of the Wellington duo helped push the WHITE FERNS up the ladder but losses to, eventual finalists, England and India ended their campaign on a disappointing note.

In 2017, only one woman hit a century in both Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League and England’s Kia Super League. In the case of that KSL century, WHITE FERNS’ skipper Suzie Bates enjoyed one of the best all-round performances ever seen in the T20 format.

Suzie Bates’ Day Out
Kia Super League
15 August 2017

The Vipers’ second match of the tournament saw them play the Loughborough Lightning at Derby’s County Ground. After winning the toss and choosing to bowl, the Lightning were made to rue the decision almost immediately as Bates went on the attack.

After four dots and a single in the first over, Bates freed her arms in the second over, hitting four 4s off Beth Langston. That saw Langston replaced by Rebecca Grundy and Bates hit two 4s and a 6 in her first over. Australian star, Ellyse Perry was the next to be tried at the end, the result? Two more 4. One more 6. Bates had motored to 50 off 30 balls.

While the Vipers lost two wickets, Bates kept up her scoring rate, finishing on 119* off 72 balls with 15 4s and four 6s. She put on 87 with Hayley Matthews (12), 43 with Georgia Adams (12), and 50 with Dani Wyatt (21*) as they amassed 180 for 2.

Loughborough Lightning never really got going in their reply, losing regular wickets with the highest stand realising just 30 runs. Bates chimed in through the innings, bowling Lightning skipper, and top-scorer, Georgia Elwiss for 32 and adding two more to finish with 3 for 15.

She added another moment to the highlight reel with a superb outfield catch; juggling and finally holding on, while on her knees inches from the rope.

119*, 3 wickets, and a stunning catch. Decent day out, that.

Rachel Priest’s highest score in the Kia Super League came against Yorkshire Diamonds, with her Storm side winning by 10 wickets as she hit 106* in a chase of 160. It was another innings, though, the stole the show as she took control of the final and delivered a title to the Taunton and Bristol-based team.

Rachel Priest’s 72
Kia Super League Final
1 September 2017

The Southern Vipers, with Suzie Bates among their side, won straight through to the final after finishing at the top of the table after the League’s round robin phase. They shared a four-win, one-loss record with the second-placed Surrey Stars who started finals day with the semi-final against Priest and the Western Storm.

England’s World Cup bowling hero, Anya Shrubsole was in great for for the Storm, claiming 3 for 22 as the Stars struggled to 100 for 7 off their allocation. Although Priest scored just 11, West Indian star Stafanie Taylor hit 37* to lead the Storm’s chase and seal their spot in the final later that day. The final would be a rematch of the 2016 version, with the Vipers taking out the title in the inaugural tournament.

Again bowling first, Taylor showed her all-round class in the Vipers’ innings, taking 3 for 28 with the ball. Although no-one pushed on to a big score, five of the seven batters to take the crease for the Vipers hit 20 or more as they posted 145 for 5. Their innings opened with a 47-run stand between international players Bates and Hayley Matthews (West Indies), before Taylor claimed her three wickets in just seven balls to put the brakes on and force some more considered batting through the rest of the innings.

The Storm’s reply began sedately enough, as they took a boundary off each over and rotated the strike between Priest and Heather Knight. Knight fell in the third over and, at the conclusion of the next over, the Storm moved to 37 for 1 with Priest having scored 31 of those runs.

The sixth over brought out the best in Priest and she hammered four 4s and a 6 to pass 50 off just 26 balls. She would hit another 6 and three more 4s before being dismissed for 72 off 36 with the Storm’s score at 94. From that point, Taylor again showed her class as she and Sophie Luff each hit unbeaten 30s to guide the Storm to their total for the loss of just three wickets.

Priest’s innings gave the Storm just the start they needed to avenge last season’s loss and claim the Super League title.

When 2017 began, Colin Munro had played 28 T20 Internationals for the BLACKCAPS, passing 50 on three occasions with a high score of 73*. Although the new year began with a duck, by the end of it he had cemented his place as one of the world’s most devastating short form batsmen.

Colin Munro’s T20 Centuries
v Bangladesh & India
Jan & Nov 2017

The change in his fortunes began at Mount Maunganui against Bangladesh on January 6. Batting first, the BLACKCAPS lost opener, Luke Ronchi, off the match’s first ball. Coming in at 3, Munro found an ally in Tom Bruce after Kane Williamson and Corey Anderson’s stays were brief. The pair added 123 in 11.1 overs as Munro powered to his century off 52 balls. He was out off the next ball he faced, having hit 7 sixes and 7 fours in his innings. The BLACKCAPS powered to a 47-run win.

After starting 2017 with a duck, Munro’s next two innings following his century at the Mount also saw him fail to score. Through the home summer he was used at number three but, by the time the BLACKCAPS arrived in India in November, he was Martin Guptill’s opening partner. After making 7 in a fruitless chase of 203 in the series’ opener, Munro was again stirred in to life.

In the second T20I at Rajkot, the BLACKCAPS openers piled on 105 to set up a big score. Munro’s 50 came off 26 balls, the milestone coming from a dropped catch that resulted in a six. While Guptill fell in the next over for 45, Munro kept up his pace and, although he was dropped again in the 70s, reached his second T20I century of the year in 54 balls.

He again set the new year alight on January 3 2018, becoming the first batsman to register three centuries in T20Is.

In spite of playing just seven Tests in 2017, Neil Wagner finished among the year’s top 10 wicket-takers with 36 scalps. Through the course of 2017, he took a wicket in all but one innings – and he only bowled five overs in the missing set – but his highlight came in the BLACKCAPS’ win over the West Indies at the Basin Reserve.

Neil Wagner’s 7-for
1st Test v West Indies
1 December 2017

As has become customary at the Basin, the team winning the toss opted to field and, on this occasion, that was Kane Williamson and New Zealand. In another feature of the recent pitches in the capital, the batsmen sent in went about their work in a way that made it look like a good toss to lose. That is, of course, until Neil Wagner went to work.

The fourth bowler used, Wagner’s first over was the 18th of the innings and started with the West Indies 35 for none. While internet correspondents started to question Williamson’s choice to bowl, Wagner built in to his spell – one over mostly short, another mostly length balls. As he has made his name doing, he settled on the shorter length and found success when Kraigg Brathwaite fended at one directed at his ribs and was caught by Henry Nicholls, 54 for 1.

The next pair put on 21 as Wagner’s line varied and Boult’s full length offered few problems. Kieran Powell then got one from Boult that had him in two minds, edging to Jeet Raval at third slip. In the next over, Wagner’s bouncer saw the third West Indian wicket fall as they went to lunch at 79 for 3.

Lunch offered a brief respite, as Wagner returned with another wicket from the second ball after sandwiches. The first ball of his next over made history as Sunil Ambris, facing his first ball in Test cricket, stood on his stumps and, after a 50-run opening partnership, the West Indies had fallen to 80 for 5.

He missed the hat-trick but would get another chance a couple of overs later as Roston Chase and captain Jason Holder – to a rare yorker – fell in consecutive balls. The opportunity once again passed by, but Shannon Gabriel was Wagner’s, and the West Indies’, last wicket as the Otago seamer finished with 7 for 39 – the fourth best innings’ figures in BLACKCAPS’ history.

In response to the West Indies’ 134, the BLACKCAPS piled on 520 for 9 with Colin de Grandhomme hitting his first Test century before Tom Blundell, on debut, added one of his own. The second innings began with three 50+ stands for the West Indies, but the task was too big and they lost by an innings and 67 runs. Wagner claimed two more wickets to finish the match with nine.

Martin Crowe’s place in New Zealand cricket history is assured, even as his records slowly fall, year-by-year. In 2017, one of his greatest achievements wasn’t surpassed but it was equalled by two men for whom it is particularly fitting to share his New Zealand Test centuries record with.

17 For Williamson & Taylor
v South Africa & West Indies
Mar & Dec 2017

The first to stand alongside Crowe with 17 Test centuries was Kane Williamson, the heir apparent to Crowe’s status as our greatest Test batsman. Williamson began 2017 with 14 Test centuries, but the home summer saw him rack them up at a rapid rate.

His 15th came against Bangladesh in January. That innings, at the Basin Reserve in a final day run chase, emphasised how cool the BLACKCAPS’ skipper is in the fourth innings of Tests.

Six weeks later, against South Africa at Dunedin, Williamson registered his 16th century. In contrast to his Basin century, which saw him face 90 balls, the South African effort was all about defence and saving the Test, facing 240 balls from one of the best bowling attacks in the world. The Test was drawn.

Weeks later he equalled Crowe’s record with 176 against the same opponents at Hamilton. If not for the weather on the final day, that innings could’ve set up a rare BLACKCAPS’ Test win over South Africa.

In contrast to Williamson, Taylor went in to 2017 with 16 already penned in to the centuries column on his stats sheet. After two fifties in the Bangladesh series, Taylor was forced out of much of the South Africa series and watched from the sidelines as Williamson matched his mentor’s tally.

With a Test gap through the middle of the year, Taylor’s next shot at 17 was the first Test against the West Indies at Wellington. As he has done regularly through the latter years of his career, Taylor was all class and control at the crease. It wasn’t to be, however, as he fell for 93 in the BLACKCAPS’ innings victory.

He wouldn’t make any mistake in the series’ second Test, hitting an emotional 107* to etch Taylor alongside Williamson and Crowe in the record books. The race may now be on to break the record, but it’s worth enjoying the moment these three greats of New Zealand cricket stood alongside each other.

While the BLACKCAPS won the first ODI of their series against the West Indies fairly comfortably at Whangarei, it wasn’t a notable game for Trent Boult. Both he had his opening partner Tim Southee went wicketless at nearly 5 runs an over as New Zealand’s change bowlers did the work. The second ODI couldn’t have been a more different story.

Trent Boult’s 7-for
2nd ODI v West Indies
23 December 2017

That match, at Hagley Oval, started with the West Indies winning the toss and opting to field. After George Worker (58), Ross Taylor (57), Henry Nicholls (83*), and Todd Astle (49) went to work, they found themselves chasing 325.

With Southee rested, Boult opened the bowling with Matt Henry and found success in his first over, bowling Kyle Hope. That delivery set the scene for much of Boult’s afternoon as he combined swing with accuracy to put one in to the top of off after it swung between bat and pad. By the time his first spell ended after twelves overs of the reply, Boult had all four West Indian wickets to fall.

There was little respite for the visiting batsmen, however, as Lockie Ferguson took over the attack, claiming wickets with consecutive balls in his second over. He took another in his next over before Williamson cut his spell short at four overs and reintroduced Boult to finish things off.

Sheldon Cottrell gave Boult his third ODI five-wicket bag, edging one to wicketkeeper, Tom Latham. Two wicketless overs followed and Boult entered his 10th over looking for one more wicket to total 100 in ODIs. Ashley Nurse ensured Boult became the second-fastest BLACKCAP, and fifth-fastest ever, to that mark when he miscued a pull to Worker. Shannon Gabriel kept out the next ball before Boult, with the last ball of his spell, uprooted off stump to end the West Indies’ innings.

The 204-run win was the biggest margin in ODIs between the sides while Boult’s 7 for 33 put him just one run behind Southee’s record for the BLACKCAPS’ best figures in ODIs.

Sheldon Cottrell gave Boult his third ODI five-wicket bag, edging one to wicketkeeper, Tom Latham. Two wicketless overs followed and Boult entered his 10thover looking for one more wicket to total 100 in ODIs. Ashley Nurse ensured Boult became the second-fastest BLACKCAP, and fifth-fastest ever, to that mark when he miscued a pull to Worker. Shannon Gabriel kept out the next ball before Boult, with the last ball of his spell, uprooted off stump to end the West Indies’ innings.

The 204-run win was the biggest margin in ODIs between the sides while Boult’s 7 for 33 put him just one run behind Southee’s record for the BLACKCAPS’ best figures in ODIs.