Values of dependibility, egalitarianism, inventiveness and humility has been rooted in the Kiwi culture and that is highlighted in the brand of cricket they have played in this edition of the world cup.
Edmund Hillary (not yet Sir Edmund) was attempting his fourth Himalayan summit in just over two years.
After training meticulously in the heavily glaciated peaks in his native New Zealand, he was eventually paired up with Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa who’s always had summit potential. Both became the first people to stand at the top of the world’s highest mountain.
As both men climbed down to Kathmandu, a strong wave of Indian and Nepalese press wanted to be assured that Tenzing was the first to set foot on Everest.
Later in his book, Sir Edmund wrote that to a mountaineer, it’s of no great consequence who actually sets foot first. He also added that often the one who puts more into the climb steps back and lets his partner stand on top first.
A strong moral code that revolves around humility defines the culture in New Zealand. Values like fair play and egalitarianism has been deeply seeded into the amature sports that has further transcended to the professional game too.
In a landmark announcement, New Zealand Cricket selected the first Aotearoa Māori women’s cricket team, which will compete in the Pacific Cup tournament in Tāmaki Makaurau next year.
The announcement was made at the back of the success of the Māori and Pacific secondary school cricket tournament last year.
This dates back to 2007 when the cricket administrators in New Zealand turned to a four year plan titled ‘Pushing beyond boundaries’ which aimed at a holistic development of the cricket community.
This encouraged them to create a culture of excellence while providing vision, direction, guidance to support to cricket at all levels throughout New Zealand starting from school level.
A clear guideline was laid out to retain players in the game, with an emphasis on secondary and post-secondary school players and their successful transition to club cricket.
The senior most member of this Kiwi world cup side, Tim Southee is a product of the same competitive grassroots cricket back home.
However, it is the youngest recruit who has clearly has been New Zealand’s find of the tournament.
Largely pleasant throughout the year, as the winter hue settles down in Bengaluru, the city seems to have warmed up to the New Zealand cricket team.
Largely due to Rachin Ravindra who recently visited his grandparents on Dhanteras and has repeatedly spoken about the love and the familiarity, he’s had to this part of the world.
He remembers watching his idol Sachin Tendulkar score a hundred at the M Chinnaswamy ground and how that particularly stands out that inspired him to keep up his dream of playing top flight cricket. It was a moment to withhold as the packed galleries cheered for the 23-year-old with the same iconic tune of ‘Rachin!Rachin!’
The 50-over format and it’s gameplay is peculiar, specially in this world cup in the sense of it resembling Test cricket a little bit more than the just being a longer version of a wham bam T20 dash.
Having won their last league stage game against Sri Lanka, the Kiwis have now qualified for their third consecutive knockout hustle. While in 2015 they relished the home conditions and in 2019 they had familiar conditions, it is in this tournament that they have fought and won convincingly in an alien environment.
Although it is important to remember they did lose four games on the bounce and have been plagued by injuries all throughout their campaign. Their captain Kane Williamson has suffered unfortunate hiccups and yet has somehow returned with a sense of ease that only reflects the magnitude of the mental strength the side possesses.
Because of Kane’s return, the team has unwillingly fiddled with the batting order of their most run getter, Rachin and that has had no impact on the rigid self-belief he has shown over the last three weeks.
Back in 2020, former Kiwi international, Peter Fulton had picked four names who should be shaping the future of New Zealand. The list included Daryl Mitchell, Devon Conway, Finn Allen and Ravindra.
Except Allen, who has hardly played much, all three of them have been scoring confidently.
While batting in one day cricket is primarily about scoring runs defensively for a long period of time unless you are playing on an absolute road targetting 400.
This aspect of the game has been evident in how Mitchell and Conway have approached their key responsibilities. Even while trying to hit inside the first ten overs, Conway’s shot selection has been excellent. In the middle overs, it’s been Mitchell’s ability to knock the balls in the gaps which have helped him score over a thousand runs in the last year.
While Glenn Phillips’ contribution hasn’t necessarily been matchwinning with the bat in its entirety but he has constantly played a match defining role due to his bowling and fielding gifts.
The link between their batting and bowling is well managed with Mitchell Santner.
Across turning, non turning and slow turning surfaces, his meticulous control has reaped generous rewards.
He has continued the good work that has been done by Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson, all of whom have provided breakthroughs with the new ball.
These on field performances are only the result of a systematic and structural growth of the game that is inclusive of the socio cultural diversity of New Zealand. Furthermore, it is largely driven by strong ethos of bravery, inventiveness and humility.
In the universe of cricket of the modern age where the narrative is often lost in the economics, the Kiwis have developed a pathway that should churn out brilliance even in the future.
feature image– ICC Cricket World Cup