The Black Caps’ miserable tour will lead to questions about the depth of international cricket, but that would undersell how well Australia played.
If selectors were unsure their side had the makings to challenge for the world Test crown a few weeks ago, they should now be very confident looking ahead to the blockbuster match-up with world No.1 India. Next up is the winter tour of Bangladesh, where Australia drew 1-1 in 2017.
“Every time you go to the subcontinent those series are very, very hard to win. We’ve got our eye on that, and on next summer,” Paine said.
“If we go to Bangladesh and play well and get wins over there you come back to Australia playing India it’s a pretty mouth-watering series for players and fans.
“It’s hard not to be looking at that, We have some people employed at Cricket Australia that are already looking ahead to that series. For the main playing group the next goal as a group is Bangladesh, you can’t take that lightly.”
Virat Kohli’s side created history with victory here 12 months ago but Australia have since regained superstars Steve Smith and David Warner, and found another topliner in Marnus Labuschagne.
The Queenslander’s summer tally of 896 runs was just nine short of equalling Wally Hammond’s record of 905 for most runs in a five-Test Australian summer.
“I certainly won’t be looking at it as revenge. We’re certainly a different side from what they played against last year, and there’s more at stake,” Paine said.
“There’s Test Championship points at stake, both teams are eyeing off that final so every point will be critical.
“If we can continue our upward trend we’ve shown the last 12 months you’re potentially looking at the top couple of sides or two teams in the top three or four in the world.
“It’s going to be an awesome series. Even being in Australia they showed last year they have a pace battery that is every bit as threatening as ours. It’s going to be one to watch.”
Even with an injury to Josh Hazlewood, Australia’s attack smothered New Zealand’s batsmen with their express pace and unerring accuracy.
In James Pattinson, Australia have a paceman who would be close to first picked in almost every other international side. The Victorian, who claimed one of the catches of the summer, instead has had to be content carrying the drinks, waiting for an injury to provide him with an opportunity.
“We’re becoming a really consistent team, we’ve been more ruthless which is a really good sign and something we needed to be after we let an opportunity slip in England in the Ashes,” Paine said.
“And we have some real match-winners. We have some great quality in the side, it’s an exciting team to be a part of.”
Though the result was beyond doubt heading into the fourth day, Australia did not take their foot off the Black Caps’ throats.
The Kiwis needed to survive for 52 overs to take the game into a fifth day but fell 25 balls short. They were bundled out for a paltry 136, their lowest in the three Tests, with only all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme passing 50.
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald