Cricket World Cup Diary: Day 19
"[Grant] Elliott hits it into the grandstand, and New Zealand are in the World Cup final!"
One of the great moments in New Zealand sport. Grant Elliott, South Africa, Eden Park, five needed, two balls remaining. Bang. New Zealand cricket history.
One of the best sporting events I’ve ever attended. The tension was palpable, a place in folklore on the cards. The last seven to eight hours had been one of the most rollercoaster rides of sports viewing I’d ever had.
South Africa dominated, the rain came, New Zealand faced a mountain and somehow climbed to the summit and sent Eden Park into a delirious state. I swear I've never high-fived so many strangers in my life.
It truly is a "where were you" moment (we don't talk about the final).
It really brought the nation together, that whole World Cup campaign did, sealed with Grant Elliott's moment of magic. Which brings me to this year, to this week.
The Black Caps face their old cricketing foe again, albeit in a rather watered-down match with nowhere near as much riding on it. But, it’s one that could really get this year’s campaign rolling.
New Zealand currently sits pretty on the World Cup ladder, in second with a game in hand on Australia and a chance to jump above them back up to the top of the standings.
There's a little ticket to the semi-finals on the line in the next two matches as well (NZ play the West Indies after the Proteas). But, perhaps the biggest thing riding on this is a chance to build some momentum heading into the knockout stages.
I'm a big believer in momentum in sport and, the Black Caps have the perfect platform to build that.
That starts with Wednesday night (NZT) at Edgbaston. Beat South Africa and their belief will grow even further. Belief will also grow in the New Zealand public.
This side should look back to that 2015 semi-final for the belief they need. They were down and out in that game, up against everything when AB de Villiers was flexing his muscles and firing balls to every corner of the oddly shaped Eden Park.
To come back from that situation is a thing of beauty. The perfectly timed chase, the distinct lack of any panic, is perfect viewing to inspire this Black Caps team.
A lot of them were there in 2015 (whether that’s in the team or, in Jimmy Neesham’s case anyway, in the stands experiencing it like the rest of us).
If asked in the public domain they’d probably say they can’t draw on anything from that as the teams are completely different and the situations are completely different.
That could well be true. But I know from a personal point of view, watching that always brings about a sense of joy and happiness. It brings back vivid memories of one of the greatest moments in New Zealand sport.
I know it all too well, I've watched it about 500 times in four years and the feeling never changes.
It can't help putting that in front of the eyes of the players one more time. Because sometimes, belief is all you need.