Wellington: New Zealand celebrated "an early Christmas" today with front-page media praise for a rare cricket victory over Australia and disbelief that chief wicket taker Doug Bracewell was not man of the match.
"Ho Ho Hobart, Christmas cheer for Black Caps", trumpeted The Press, the New Zealand Herald hailed "Doug the destroyer, six of the best" and the Dominion Post described Bracewell as the "Wizard of Oz".
The New Zealand Black Caps had been largely written off by their own fans following their nine-wicket thrashing in the first Test which extended a 26-year winless run in Australia.
But the dramatic seven-run win in the second Test in Hobart to level the series spun the sentiment around.
Captain Ross Taylor`s remark that the historic win "was for the New Zealand public an early Christmas present" was pounced on by the media as the victory slogan.
"Christmas cheer for Black Caps," said The Press as Radio New Zealand rated the drought-breaking win as "one of the most remarkable" in New Zealand`s cricket history".
Bracewell struck when New Zealand were on the ropes with Australia only requiring 82 runs with eight wickets in hand to take the match.
Three wickets in 15 balls to remove Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey on his way to match figures of 6-40 thrust the 21-year-old speedster into the limelight in only his third Test.
The Press hailed him as a "budding superstar" and the Dominion Post said the match turned on Bracewell`s "magical spell" to secure New Zealand`s first triumph in Australia since 1985 when Richard Hadlee was in his prime.
"The result doesn`t suddenly make New Zealand world beaters. But it does show what is possible with skill, perseverance and heart," wrote Herald columnist David Leggat.
But the celebrations carried criticism that match-winner Bracewell was overlooked as man-of-the-match in favour of Australian century-maker David Warner.
The award was decided by a public phone-in vote instead if the traditional selection by a panel of experts and 60 percent voted for Warner.
"That`s just ridiculous," tweeted former Black Iain O`Brien comparing a century for the losing side against a six-wicket bag for the winning team.
Another former international Andre Adams added a touch of sarcasm with his tweet saying he supposed "Doug`s spell of 6-26 off 9 didn`t have any impact".