Later this week the 12th Cricket World Cup starts.
Historically it has been a tournament where New Zealand has performed well, making the semi-finals 7 times out of 11. If that’s how you measure things it’s brilliant. No other team has bettered that, and only Australia has matched it.
The ceiling has typically been hit at that point, but the great thing about trivia stats is that you can pick out one that suits.
The summary of those World Cups put into categories.
That is pretty easy given that World Cup produced the only successful semi-final (you may have heard Grant Elliott hit a six to win it)
But New Zealand dominated throughout; sometimes to a level we’re not used to. They entered the tournament as well prepared as any since 2003 and they were consistent. It all started with a solid win against Sri Lanka, and the well-oiled machine carried on from there.
There was the hairy win over Australia in Pool Play, and the only other close match they had was against Bangladesh when confirmed of top spot.
The utter demolition of England was the highlight, and one of the most comprehensive NZ wins ever. It set in place the England rehabilitation ever since that sees them as favourites in 2019. That’s not a bad legacy.
The Guptill show in the Quarter-final was also pretty special, with the Vettori catch adding the Internet meme angle. New Zealand, in keeping with its captain, had a real swagger on.
Then there was that semi-final.
In the end the final was a disappointment. The top order failed when it mattered most. And then a Taylor / Elliott fightback was cut off after 35 overs with a combination of a powerplay and late afternoon shadows on the pitch.
But at least they got there, and they did it via eight consecutive wins.
Entering that World Cup New Zealand was in complete disarray. They had lost 3-0 at home to England. Heavily.
Mark Greatbatch couldn’t buy a run, MD Crowe was out of touch, Dipak Patel wasn’t getting game time and there was no plan in evidence.
The rest is legendary. With the help of home town groundsmen (ICC is more prescriptive these days)
It was all set up for the other home side (they missed out on the semi-finals) on the opening game but the major weaponry of Dibbly / Dobbly / Wobbly, plus Dipak Patel, who never turned it, was unleashed.
The fact it worked once could be explained, but it worked for six weeks until a Pakistani teenager walked out onto Eden Park and said “I’ve had enough of this stuff”. And we’ll never know if things would have been different if Crowe had been on the field for that innings.
Was Larsen bowled out too early, should Jones have had a bowl?? We will never know.
Like the 2015 campaign it was that they kept on winning (7 on the trot in this case), and were not really troubled along the way.
One of the main reasons people found that loss at Eden Park hard to take is that they were expected to win. They had been that dominant.
Like in 1992 New Zealand cricket was in a bit of a shambles. It was towards the end of the Vettori captain-coaching-bus driving era, and what was actually going on? In fact you would need to Google to find out who was in charge then, and those results would still probably be misleading.
There were no signs of that early as they were embarrassed by Australia. When Nathan NcCullum top scores it’s not pretty.
The key group game was against table-topping Pakistan. When Styris left at 175/5 with 8 overs left it was looking pretty mediocre. But Ross Taylor played his best World Cup innings hitting 7 sixes in reaching 131*.
The seventh wicket partnership with Oram produced 85 runs in under 4 overs. Let those figures sink in.
They finished fourth in the group, earning a semi-final against the top qualifier from the other side of the draw; South Africa who were 3/1 favourites to win the tournament at the time.
They seemed to be cruising at 108/2 chasing 222, and ahead of the required run-rate before that South African choke thing started to happen. There was an inevitable run out and then it all went off. Kyle Mills, who wasn’t even playing, playing a major part.
We look back at that incident with some embarrassment now, but it was really one of the great upsets in World Cup cricket. The final margin was 49 runs.
They started the tournament as rank outsiders, and left it as the only non-Asian side to make the semi-finals.
Next: the Worst, and the Disappointments