Australia's test captain Tim Paine has apologised to the Black Caps after earlier predicting they would be "comfortably" beaten by India in the World Test Championship final - admitting that he was "dirty" for missing out on a spot in the inaugural showpiece event.
The Black Caps claimed the WTC mace, $2.2 million in prize money, and bragging rights after pummelling Virat Kohli's side by eight wickets in a dramatic, rain-affected clash in Southampton this week, forcing Paine to eat humble pie.
Shortly before the match, the 36-year-old wicketkeeper said India "will win pretty comfortably if they play anywhere near their best".
His comments followed the Black Caps' series win against a weakened England, who face Australia in the Ashes in December.
"We all get some wrong. I copped a bit from the Kiwi fans, so I thought I'd come on air and eat some humble pie," Paine told Newstalk ZB's D'Arcy Waldegrave.
"I thought the New Zealanders played outstandingly. It's always a pleasure to watch the way they go about it. For such a small nation - I'm from Tasmania, which is obviously our smallest resource state, and we punch above our weight - so I certainly respect what the Kiwis do on an international stage."
The Black Caps won the inaugural World Test Championship final against India by eight wickets. Photo / Getty Images
Paine, who captained the Aussies to a series whitewash against New Zealand when the teams last met in December 2019, singled out the emergence of towering fast bowler Kyle Jamieson who has made all the difference for the Black Caps.
"They've done well under Kane [Williamson] since they last played us ... they've added big Kyle Jamieson, who on day 5 or 6 was outstanding, and a quality opening batter which is Devon Conway, so they're always improving and they always seem to find these good cricketers.
"They've added a big tall fast bowler who rarely misses his length, complemented by Trent Boult and Tim Southee. The height that he comes down from is clearly troubling batsmen around the world.
"Devon Conway has come into all formats of cricket for New Zealand and done really well. When you have a good start at the top of the order, then you've got Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, and Henry Nicholls - they just keep coming, they're a good side and always have been."
Kyle Jamieson's meteoric rise has not gone unnoticed by the Australians. Photo / Getty Images
Paine, whose team missed out on the WTC final after being docked four points for a slow over-rate against India late last year and had two scheduled tours cancelled because of Covid-19, agreed with Kohli that the WTC final should be contested over three matches.
"It's certainly not the finished product but it's a step in the right direction," he told Waldegrave.
"You want to be playing in that test - that's why I couldn't watch the first three or four nights of it because I was dirty that we weren't there. It's a showpiece event, it's a World Cup final. Can we make it better? Yes, we probably can but we shouldn't take anything away from New Zealand."
Paine also had special praise for Kiwi cricket fans, who flocked across the ditch for the 2019 series.
"I thought the support the Kiwis got when they came to Australia was fantastic. The MCG crowd was brilliant," he said.
"We're used to getting that from the English fans but the atmosphere around our grounds when the Kiwis were here was brilliant."
Sportstalk with D'Arcy Waldegrave Tues - Friday 7pm