Just when you thought it was all up and over for 2019 we've been given an absolute gift to end the year with, a 3-test cricket series vs Australia. And let me tell you that sport does not get better than this. If you love your cricket and if you're a fan of the Black Caps then I promise you it does not get better than this.
The New Zealand (mens) cricket team is to us what the Wallabies are to Australia. Always the underdog, always trying to upset the big boy's applecart, every win however rare hard-earned and forever appreciated. In 57 tests, since they first deigned to even play us, we have beaten them just 8 times.
The last of those was in 2011 featuring an historic, courageous bowling effort from Doug Bracewell that went down to the last 7 excruciating balls before victory was clinched. Before that it'd been 18 long years between champagne & cigars, 1993 at Eden Park.
The mere fact we (those amongst us proud to be called cricket numpty's) so easily remember these matches, are so quick to recall the most minor details about them further highlights just how important these precious and rare wins become.
The 1985-86 series winning side remains one of my all-time favourite NZ sports teams alongside the 1981-82 World Cup qualifying All Whites and the '72 Munich Eight. The classic Kiwi battler over-achieving against the odds story. Well that's the perception anyway. In actual fact this Black Caps side are anything but odds-on underdogs.
None other than our highest test-run scoring batsman and legendary skipper Stephen Fleming labels this lot "the most complete side we've ever sent to Australia". High praise indeed but also backed up by the stats that show a batting lineup including the two who've scored the most test centuries for NZ plus 3 of our best ever bowlers, a wicket-keeper/batsman rated among the world's best and in Tom Latham one of our most accomplished and in-form openers.
It all adds up to a what should be an enthralling three-match series, with that in itself adding so much more to the event because at last we have an actual series.
Enough of this 2-test blink and you'll miss it stuff. Three 5-dayers spread over Xmas and the New Year is the ultimate test for our players and the best sporting present us cricket fans could get. The bells have started jingling and Santa's isn't even here yet!