I see this article as 500 words worth of panacea. Swallow this and sit down in happy bliss and enjoy the World Cup with a cup of hot chocolate and a smile beaming. This will relieve you of stress eczema you may develop watching Daryl Tuffey run in, or Stephen Fleming doing his “Bambi on ice” impression while facing some innocuous spinner from Bangladesh. Or when they take the bubble wrap off Shane Bond and realise they’ve left a limb in the overhead lockers. This article is the blue pill. Here comes the truth – we will not win the World Cup.
Ouch. It even hurt writing that. It seems so seditious. We have such collective belief that we will win the World Cup (and the America’s Cup, and the Rugby World Cup, and well, some shiny things at the Olympics) that it seems treasonous to lance the bubble of expectation. But I urge you all to get in touch with that large doubt gland somewhere at the base of your cerebral cortex. Tap into it, and read on.
You can never accuse the Black Caps of not being good enough. We were good enough to steam to the semi-finals in 1992. We were good enough to placidly get within a half dozen balls of the final in 1979. We made the semi-finals in 1999, but forgot to turn up. Remember also some bollocks teams have managed to win the World Cup – well only three, but India 83, Australia 87 and Sri Lanka 96 weren’t exactly jewels in the Crown. Average players Mike Veletta, Balwinder Sandhu, Greg Dyer and Pramodya Wickremasinghe all have World Cup winners medals. In all previous 8 World Cups we have had only one average side – in 1987 when Richard Hadlee decided to stay in his tent.
We lose because of our ‘role’ in international cricket. Even when New Zealand has strolled around cricket fields like they were wearing imperial purple, when it comes to the perception among other teams it has always been as the ‘spoiler’, the dark horse galloping along the beach about to spoil the party of all the pretty ponies. Only to turn up and realise it was a Clydesdale not an Arabian.
We “nick” games against the big boys, pickpocket wickets and mug runs. Rarely do we look dominant. Remember in 1996 and 2003 we won the first half of games against Australia. But as soon as Shane Warne walked out to bat in 1996, and as soon as Vettori opened the batting in 2003, it was as if we’d been found out, caught red-handed in our balaclavas with the sterling silver falling out of our green Air New Zealand bag. Warne belted the pop-gun attack and the initiative was wrested in moments. Vettori smeared McGrath for four then got out and the top order followed his example.
We don’t want heroic failures. We want the Cup. Is that going to happen? Is Fleming talking about ‘destiny’ like Imran Khan in 1992, or strolling around with Arjuna Ranatunga’s blissful self-assurance of 1996. Nope. “Any one of 8 teams could win the World Cup” he said. We are “in the mix”, stealthily putting on our mittens and polishing our crowbars, ready to steal a game or two against the big boys.
So take the blue pill. Accept that we will not win the World Cup this year. There will be a few great performances – but we will stumble and be noticed for the burglars we are. Enjoy Ross Taylor’s batting, Bondy’s bowling, the absence of Hamish Marshall. That’s enough.
Oh but I do want them to win soooo badly.