Paging Dr Heimlich … no that’s incredibly harsh. South Africa didn’t really choke. Although their fielding let them down a little at the end, the Kiwis deserved to win. Nobody handed victory to them on a plate.
Grant Elliott, an unsung hero for so long, was the star of the show. He guided New Zealand home with a perfectly paced innings of the highest quality. He didn’t panic when the Proteas put together a string of dot balls; he simply waited for the right ball to hit. Even better, he was there at the death. As an Englishman, I can’t remember the last time one of our guys did that.
New Zealand aren’t quite plucky underdogs anymore – they have more talent that they’ve had for a long time (or ever?) – but their victory today still emphasised the value of having a settled team, where everyone knows their role, a clear strategy, and a coaching staff that maximises the talent at their disposal.
It comes down to the players at the end of the day, but Mike Hesson the Kiwi’s coach has done an excellent job. His coaching team have given the New Zealand players the best possible chance of succeeding.
The Black Caps also have the whole nation behind them. As the fireworks exploded above the Auckland sky, neutrals saw a nation united behind a team that really connects with its public.
This is what makes successful cricket teams. And this is what England have lost so shamefully and disastrously.