It’s World Cup Cricket final time this evening and finger nails certainly don’t grow back much over three days, so perhaps use the time to hunt out some aloe vera cream or vaseline to protect the skin you gradually cannibalised as you chewed literally and figuratively through those final couple of hours of the Black Caps and India semi-final.
There must have been a few fibbers if they had said they weren’t just a bit nervy about Matt Henry opening the bowling to Rohit Sharma…until he proceeded to bowl like RJ Hadlee. Henry tends to lose his length more noticeably than other bowlers when the long handle get taken to him, but this happens less of course at the start of an innings, and his efforts to the Indian top-order were sublime- the ball that got Rohit’s wicket was one of the all-time World Cup cricket greats.
India only having 240 to chase instead of around 280 may oddly have worked more in New Zealand’s favour. A player like Sharma could possibly have felt conflicted about what approach to take- a not overly high target may have put him in two minds about whether to play his regular and natural attacking game or to prod around a little more than usual and just occupy. Whatever, the poke and prod top-order approach and the ‘in no man’s land’ length of Henry and Boult rendered them helpless.
I doubt that we can fully imagine the change that cricket will go through in NZ should the Black Caps lift the trophy. Get set for cricket mania for at least a summer or two. Things could very well take off even more with the general populace than they even did through the memorable summer of 1982-83; culminating in the deeds of a certain Lance Cairns, and his famous shoulderless bat, ‘Excalibur’.
It’s been said over the past day or two that the ultimate Hollywood script would have Martin
Guptill scoring a century and taking us to victory, although even a reasonably swift 35 or so would be satisfactory enough compared to his latest stays. Whatever transpires, leaving it all once again up to ‘Kane and Able’, aka Williamson and Taylor would be a stretch too far, you would feel.
International one-day cricket began more or less by accident, in January 1971, when the third Ashes test in Melbourne was a wash-out and the officials decided to stage a one-day match on the fourth day to compensate. A million guesses who won; not England. Almost unbelievably, only fours years later a one-day cricket World Cup had already been conceived and held. The final in fact turned out to be quite some game. From that time on, future cricket World Cups were just about a fait accompli, save for Kerry Packer turning the sport on its head for a while.
New Zealand tonight are attempting the transition from great semi-final makers, to top of the cricket world. The only international trophy to make it to the NZCC cabinet thus far has been the 2000 ICC Champions trophy, held in Kenya, of all places. For England, they are the footballing equivalent of Holland in World Cup football finals- three times to the altar as the bridesmaid and possibly counting. Can they break their hoodoo?
It’s hard to envisage anything other than a right royal cliffhanger. Just a great game of cricket will do me.