There was one thing I really loved about the Black Caps victory on Wednesday night. One thing that very few pundits and commentators have focused on.
It was 2am, I had that weird mixture of exhaustion and elation. I knew, with adrenalin pumping through me, that I wouldn’t be sleeping for hours. But I was struck by something when the Black Caps took that final wicket, eliminating India and sealing their place in the World Cup Final.
I’m not sure if you noticed it too when the final wicket was confirmed, the fireworks and pyrotechnics went off, but the Black Caps didn’t. There was no jumping about or whooping and hollering. They all just smiled contently, patted each other on the back, and calmly shook hands. They’d pulled off a truly extraordinary result, but those eleven players knew well enough the job isn’t done yet.
It reminded me actually of Kane Williamson’s first test hundred. He scored it on debut against India and unlike many of his contemporaries in World Cricket, he didn’t run around or kiss the ground or pump his chest, or hold his bat like a electric guitar or pretend to shoot it like sub machine gun. He just calmly lifted his bat to the crowd, acknowledged the dressing room, and then continued in his work, ever the technician.
I’m a cricket tragic. I grew up with the sport and still remember the day when as a little boy my Australian grandfather walked me a few blocks from his Adelaide home to introduce me to Sir Don Bradman, while cricket’s greatest ever player, then an elderly man, nonchalantly watered his garden. I’ve followed the Black Caps from Lancaster Park to Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica. I’ve stood in the stands at Lords to applaud a Kane Williamson century.
Four years ago, having stayed up until daylight in New York to watch the Black Caps defeat South Africa and make the World Cup Final, I flew across the World to Melbourne and the MCG to see us get pumped by the Aussies in the championship game. And here’s the thing. I think our semi final victory over India this week, is maybe the single greatest Black Caps ODI result that I can remember. Greater than Grant Elliott’s mighty six four years ago. Greater than our Knockout Trophy victory or any unlikely Chappell Hadlee win. And yet, and yet.. they were chill.
I’m pleased we’re not playing Australia tomorrow. Not because I think England will be easier than the Aussies, but because the worst case scenario if things don’t go our way, is still so much better than the thought of David Warner cartwheeling around Lords.
That’s not to say I think we’ll lose. I think we’re an excellent chance. Martin Guptill should play. The fields should be super aggressive. The bowling should be full enough to give it a chance to swing and who knows, who knows? Maybe the Black Caps will have reason to really celebrate this time.