Blackcaps v Bangladesh: Umpires force hand of NZ skipper Tom Latham to bowl retiring veteran Ross Taylor in final test

One of the keys to success for this world champion Blackcaps side has been the ability to put aside personal agendas for the greater team good.

Perhaps the most famous exception to that rule came, as all-rounder Daryl Mitchell was afforded extra overs in the middle to score his maiden century against Pakistan last January, before New Zealand finally declared their first innings closed.

So you sense the relief from stand-in skipper Tom Latham, when he describes how retiring veteran Ross Taylor came to capture a rare test scalp and the winning wicket in his final red-ball appearance for New Zealand on Tuesday.

With light fading on the third day and the home side closing in on victory against Bangladesh at Christchurch's Hagley Oval, Latham was forced to weigh Taylor's little-used right-arm spin against the imperative of wrapping up the tourists' tailenders.

"I was feeling the pressure from the crowd, but also the boys, to give Ross a bowl, but the umpires played a part as well" he admits. "It was actually very dark out there, so they said we can't bowl seamers and that left one decision to bowl Ross.  

"The way it worked out couldn't have been scripted any better."

Three balls into his only over, Taylor induced Ebadot Hussein into a top edge that soared skyward and landed in Latham's safe hands, sparking incredulous celebrations around the park.

"Everyone wanted me to take that catch, and to grab it, to sign off the test like that and for Ross to have another test wicket under his belt was pretty special," says Latham.

"It's a massive test for Ross and his final one, and the servant he's been for NZ cricket over 17 years has been absolutely amazing."

Taylor, who also hit the winning runs in New Zealand's World Test Championship victory over India last June, is still gobsmacked over how the finale played out. Over 112 tests, he produced 7683 runs - more than any other NZ batsman - but now just three wickets.

Ross Taylor and children celebrate test victory with the Blackcaps
Ross Taylor and children celebrate test victory with the Blackcaps. Photo credit: Photosport

"I don't really believe in farytales, but thanks to the Canterbury crowd and bad light that made me have to bowl," he reflects. "I don't know if Tom wanted to bowl me, I just took my hat off.

"Tim Southee was actually going to bowl spin at the other end, so that would have been an interesting moment, if I didn't get the wicket.

"Has it sunk in yet? No."

Latham insists Taylor's impending departure was not the driving motivation for victory over Bangladesh, more the need to produce a better performance than the one that conceded a shock first test defeat to the plucky underdogs at Mt Maunganui last week.

"It's always nice for guys retiring to sign off on a winning note, but for us, it was trying to put a performance together that we were proud of and, losing the toss and being put in, to put a significant score on the board.

"For the bowlers to come in and do their thing, especially today on a wicket that was starting to flatten out, was outstanding - close to the perfect performance really."

While Taylor's test career is over, he still hopes to turn out for the Blackcaps one-day unit later this summer, but Latham admits Taylor will leave a huge void in the dressing room.

"His calm nature and the fact he's scored runs in all part of the world," he says. "To learn from him how he approaches things, even though we're left and right-handed... and the significant impact he's had on us as a group.

"He's inspired generations, he inspired me to play cricket and he's someone I've always looked up to. To play cricket with him and to play in his final test is pretty special."

That said, filling the No.4 spot in the Blackcaps batting order should not prove too difficult, with the emergence of South African-born Devon Conway providing a like-for-like replacement, once captain Kane Williamson returns from injury.