PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa - New Zealand lost 6-54 on the final morning of a one-sided test series against South Africa on Monday, as the Black Caps' weaknesses were ruthlessly exposed over two weeks in a 2-0 whitewash by the world's top-ranked team.
The tourists were out for 211 in their second innings in the second test at St. George's Park for an innings and 193-run defeat — and their second innings loss in a complete mismatch of a two-test contest.
"They were very professional and very big wins for us," South Africa skipper Graeme Smith said. "I like to think we outplayed them in the series."
That was never up for debate.
South Africa's spearhead pace man Dale Steyn — the game's top-ranked bowler — had match figures of 8-65 in Port Elizabeth and 5-17 in the Black Caps' first-innings 121 all out. The Proteas' bowling unit bullied No. 8-ranked New Zealand into near-submission through the entire series.
South Africa's dominance was clear from the first innings in Cape Town, when the visitors were humbled for 45 all out for their third lowest test score.
South Africa's batting was also way too good for the New Zealanders' fledgling bowling attack as three South Africans made centuries in a formidable 525-8 at the start of the second test. New Zealand's combined totals at St. George's were still nearly 200 runs short.
Only wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling and Dean Brownlie came out with any lasting credit for New Zealand. But their stubborn, temporary resistance and 98-run partnership in the final innings never threatened to disrupt South Africa's march to a fifth straight series victory since early 2012.
"I thought in this test series we came up against a team at the absolute top of the cycle of performance," New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said.
Morne Morkel had 2-36 in the second innings as he and Steyn quickly wrapped up the test and the series with the best part of two days remaining in Port Elizabeth, where the pitch had been tipped to play lower and slower and blunt some of Steyn's spite.
Not so, as Steyn still undoubtedly led South Africa's rampant performance in both tests, taking 13 wickets in the series and combining speed, swing and aggression in a near-unplayable mix that underlined his status as the world's best bowler. It has also been a major factor in South Africa's ascent to the top of the team rankings.
"He (Steyn) has a great ability to drive a bus through a wall," Smith said. "If a batter gives him a sniff, he has that killer instinct. He sets the tone for all of us. He's that guy for us."
Left-arm spinner Robin Peterson and recalled seamer Rory Kleinveldt also had two wickets each as New Zealand capitulated for the final time on Monday, and Jacques Kallis 1-18 to break the Brownlie-Watling partnership.
All South Africa's bowlers found success in the final innings against a fragile New Zealand batting lineup that was dismissed for scores of 45, 275, 121 and 211 in the two tests.
"I've never been challenged like that at the crease by a group of bowlers," McCullum said.
South Africa also only needed to bat once in each test for its dominant victories and was never bowled out during the series.
In Port Elizabeth, Faf du Plessis (137), Hashim Amla (110) and newcomer Dean Elgar (103 not out) batted New Zealand out of the series before the Black Caps even had a chance at retribution at St. George's Park.
For New Zealand, BJ Watling made 63 and 63 in his two innings in the second test and Brownlie 53 in the second knock. But with New Zealand continuing on 157-4 overnight, Steyn, Morkel and Kallis ensured they didn't make lunch on the fourth day with the last six wickets falling in less than 20 overs in the morning.
New Zealand lost its last five for 29 in a final humiliation and will limp home hurting badly — following a three-match one-day series — to prepare for three tests against No. 2-ranked England at home next month.
"It's now what you do with it," McCullum said of the series. "You've got to learn from the experience rather than wallow in the defeat and feel sorry for yourself."
South Africa is now unbeaten in its last 11 series dating back to the 2009-10 season and, littered with world-class players, has set its sights on continued success.
"We had to build and go through phases to get to where we are today. It's great to have the quality of personnel we have to choose from," Smith said. "I think this team has a wonderful opportunity to create something special, to be a part of something special."