As the dust settles on New Zealand’s worthy victory in the WTC Final, the winners have a break in their schedule and can bask in glory until the T20 World Cup. The vanquished India have rather less time, with a white-ball series against Sri Lanka starting on July 21 with a separate squad from that in England, which is preparing for the hotly-anticipated “return” Test series which starts in early August.
New Zealand’s first major ICC title win has been widely celebrated, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern leading the tributes to Kane Williamson’s side. “What a team! Congratulations @blackcapsnz You’ve made us all proud…again! #worldchampions,”
“This was a masterful performance from a team at the top of their game and on top of the world. Kane Williamson and the team leadership have built a brilliant and humble squad who have become an inspiration to many New Zealanders”, she added.
Tim Southee, who picked up four wickets in the second innings as New Zealand bowled out India for just 170, has said that the World Test Championship triumph over the mighty Indian team will take at least a couple of weeks to sink in.
“I have never experienced 139 runs taking so long [to chase down] and there was a lot of nervous energy in the change room,” he said in a video released by New Zealand Cricket.
For Southee, though, it wasn’t just about the 15 players in the current squad.
“It is amazing to be part of this team,” he continued. “We have been working for this for the last two years. Not only the 15 players but others probably in the last five to six years [have contributed] to get us to where we are now. It is very special. We had come very close to a few tournaments. It is yet to sink in and may take a couple of weeks.
“We knew it was going to be tough on the final day, three results were possible then and the first hour [was going] to be crucial. But picking up the two wickets in that period was crucial in the end,”
Opener Tom Latham, who stood in for captain Kane Williamson in the second Test against England, said it has been “a massive ride” in the last two years.
“For me, to be involved in the 2015 and 2019 World Cup, to come so close and then come across the line here in a completely different format, a new format that hasn’t been contested before, is great.”
For India, the taste of defeat has been a little sour, with no small amount of reflection and recrimination. Their passionate fans demand more than just the four ICC titles to their name so far, the most recent of which was the 2011 World Cup win on their home soil at the Wankhede. Certainly, some of our Indian Guerilla Cricket followers have been letting us know their displeasure at India’s defeat.
Former selector Gagan Khoda expressed his own annoyance over India’s playing XI against New Zealand. He specifically singled out Shubman Gill who was named ahead of the likes of Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul. Khoda fumed: “Gill is a middle-order batsman and not an opener.”
He said the team management should have considered the likes of Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw.
“It was not meant to be like this. Shubman Gill isn’t an opener,” he said. “He is like VVS Laxman, he should bat in the middle-order. India should have picked Mayank Agarwal, who has had only two bad Test matches. Even Prithvi Shaw was shown the door after just one failure in Australia.
Virat Kohli was gracious in defeat, but clearly stated that lack of match readiness did not help his side and that more than one match was needed to decide the WTC crown in future. Many will agree with him on that.
But the simple facts are, despite a global pandemic and a showpiece final between India and New Zealand that lost two full days to English rain and had to take place just off the M27 rather than in NW8, we were wonderfully entertained.
In the words of winning captain Williamson, the triumph was a “special achievement to be savoured” by his team, which relies on “bits and pieces to be competitive”.
That description seems a very modest and self-effacing assessment of a team that have become, for so many people outside of New Zealand itself, their second favourites.
But it is just that quality of understatement and reserve, coupled with steely resolve that has endeared them to the cricket world.