Sports correspondent & historian
The Black Caps win over England in the historic first cricket test at the Bay Oval was the icing on the cake of an amazing five days of cricket at the Blake Park international cricket venue.
Sideline Sid and Mrs Sid were one of the early arrivals at the Bay Oval on Thursday morning, after we negotiated the near traffic-jam leading to the ground.
As the clock ticked down to the first ball of the encounter, the crowds kept coming to line the grass banks, in what was an introduction to test cricket for many of the Western Bay of Plenty fans at the game.
The playing of God Save the Queen, followed by the New Zealand national anthem set the scene for entrance of the Bay Oval as the countries ninth test venue.
The newbies to the rigours and demands of five day cricket quickly learnt that test cricket is often long periods of slowly accumulating runs without sacrificing wickets, with the match bursting into action, with the bowlers breaking through to grab bowling scalps.
While the Barmy Army sent a smaller contingent than usual, as they have a South Africa tour following their beloved England cricket side in a couple of weeks time, they were strong in voice especially in the later part of the days play.
The Mount Maunganui test had more twists and turns than the Tauranga to Rotorua back road.
England won the toss and elected to bat on a wicket that looked to have a myriad of runs in it and at the end of day one, the match was evenly poised with the visitors at 241/4.
Day two belonged to England, who got through to 351 before their last wicket fell.
Ironically, their top score came from New Zealand-born Ben Stokes, who stroked his way to 91 before he was dismissed.
The close of play, saw the Black Caps with plenty of work to do at 144 for the loss of four wickets.
BJ Watling took control on the New Zealand innings on day three with a century, with the New Zealanders reaching 396 for six wickets at stumps.
Watling, along with Mitchell Santner batting at eight, piled on relentless pressure on day four, with skipper Kane Williamson making the declaration at 615/6.
Watling was finally dismissed for 205 off 473 balls after spending 667 minutes at the crease.
Santner was equally impressive in posting his maiden test century, as he worked his way to 126, before being dismissed.
Watling and Santner put on a New Zealand record seventh wicket partnership of 261, as they simply took the match away from the visitors.
The Santner magic continued late on day four, as he grabbed three wickets to leave England with little hope at 55/3.
New Zealand Cricket rewarded the many fans that flocked to the Bay Oval by throwing open the gates on the finals day play.
The early dismissal of England Captain Joe Root gave the Black Cap fans hope of victory.
With England hoping to save the match (with a draw) the runs were few and far between and some undisciplined batting, saw England humbled for just 197.
Western Bay resident Neil Wagner bowled extremely enthusiastically to be rewarded with a five wicket bag.
The Black caps innings and 65 run victory - showed the tenacity of the team who had to fight like tigers on the first two days to stem the England attacks.
With 20,000 plus cricket fans through the gates over the five days play, the Bay Oval has well and truly announced its arrival as test venue and is sure to host further tests in the future.