If New Zealand were a mate of yours, they’d be the one that nobody can quite pigeon hole. Not quite the extrovert, or even non-offensive. Instead, they know that quirkiness, wit and willingness to be a little risqué make them appealing to many at the risk of offending some.
New Zealand is that friend you had at college who was always under control when tipsy but every now and then enjoyed doing something just a little bit out of the ordinary.
There was no rule book with the Black Caps. Convention was for those that couldn’t think for themselves. They would never deliberately hurt anyone. They did not have expectations of you saying ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ either. They just did it their way.
They were your equal, and in many regards, superior. And you loved that bit about them.
That mind. Oh that brilliant mind.
The Kiwis have a long and proud history of doing things their own way. Usually, it’s successful.
The late Martin Crowe was Mensa grade. He read the game better than most. He started the spinner’s revolution of opening the bowling during power plays. He anticipated that 13 bowling changes in an ODI meant winning the match. He invented Super Max cricket, which went on to be the precursor to Twenty20.
Stephen Fleming soon followed. He was lauded as one of cricket’s best tactical captains during his time.
Brendon McCullum brought with him helmeted second slips and a mindset that said that winning came only second to having fun. If the boys weren’t enjoying themselves, why bother?
New Zealand are now into the ICC World Twenty20 semi-finals. They are undefeated. They have done it defending scores of 180, 142 and 126.
They have done it by rolling favourites India out for 79. They beat Australia. They have just embarrassed Pakistan.
They have done it without Trent Boult and Tim Southee. Their best two bowlers are in the squad. But instead of delivering swing, seam, containment and wickets, they are running onto the field with drink bottles wearing orange vests.
This is genius. Another step in the evolution of the Kiwi cricketing mind.
Your mates would have been at their flashiest in a Justin Bieber gig. New Zealand have chosen something practical over fashionable. They don’t care. They prefer fit for purpose and functional. Just like their bowling attack.
Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi and Grant Elliott.
The scorebook doesn’t record your reputation.
That New Zealand are a win away from reaching ICC World T20 final undefeated by choosing not to use their two strike weapons is courageous.
That Nathan McCullum can help roll India, get dropped for Mitchell McClenaghan because of how the coach read the pitch was mature.
Win their next game, and your Kiwi mate has just made back-to-back ICC finals undefeated. Not the flashiest mate you have. Just the smartest and in full control.