'Langer best batsman in world' - Waugh

Australia polished off New Zealand with a six-wicket win on the fourth day of the third and final Test in Hamilton yesterday to complete a clean sweep in the series.

Justin Langer ended unbeaten on 122 off 122 balls to see the tourists through to 212 for 4 after bowling New Zealand out for 229 in their second innings. The victory was Australia's 10th in a row, one short of the world record of 11 Tests, held by the West Indies, who will be their next opponents when they tour Australia later this year.

The Australia captain, Steve Waugh, said he was looking forward to a break from Test cricket before taking on the West Indies in November. "I think we're on the verge of something special," he said. "I believe this is only the beginning - we can play better than that. We are going to be fired up and and you're going to see us play some exciting cricket. We're going to be playing to win."

The New Zealand captain, Stephen Fleming, said losing the series by a clean sweep was a disappointment, especially given that they had failed to take advantage of their chances. "We had opportunities throughout the Test match but we were not good enough to take them," he reflected.

"When you play a very good side, a side that is better than you, you have to learn things - you have to learn things or you take nothing from the series."

Starting the fourth day needing just 73 runs to win, Langer and Steve Waugh began in the same aggressive fashion as they had ended the previous afternoon, taking 10 runs off the first over from Chris Cairns.

Langer went on to reach his seventh Test century, hitting his 19th boundary to give Australia the victory. Waugh made 18 before retiring hurt after being struck on the wrist by a delivery from Daryl Tuffey and said he would have an X-ray, though the injury did not appear serious.

Australia's wicketkeeper, Adam Gilchrist, took 10 dismissals in the game, one short of the world record, and was named man of the match for his contribution with both gloves and bat.

Fourth day; Australia won toss

NEW ZEALAND - First Innings 232 (C D McMillan 79, C L Cairns 37; S Lee 5-77, G D McGrath 4-58). AUSTRALIA - First Innings 252 (D R Martyn 89 not out, A C Gilchrist 75; S B O'Connor 5-51). NEW ZEALAND - Second Innings 229 (C L Cairns 71, C M Spearman 35; S Lee 3-46).

AUSTRALIA - Second Innings (Overnight: 137 for 3)

J L Langer not out 122 *S R Waugh retired hurt 18 D R Martyn lbw b O'Connor 4 ÿA C Gilchrist not out 0 Extras (lb1, nb3) 4 Total (for 4, 41 3 overs) 212

Fall: 1-13, 2-96, 3-124, 4-190. Did not bat: C R Miller, S Lee, G D McGrath. Bowling: Cairns 10-1-60-0; O'Connor 11-1-53-2 (2nb); Wiseman 9-1-42-2; Tuffey 11-1-52-0 (nb); McMillan 0 3-0-4-0.

Umpires: A Jayaprakash (Ind) and S Dunne (NZ).

Man of the match: A C Gilchrist.