While you are all sequestered away in training for your upcoming tour to the UK, I have been reflecting on the NZ Summer and thinking about what’s to come.
First and foremost, thank you. Thank you for restoring the hope of all us BlackCaps fans.
We started the summer knowing that our favourite team had been rolled by South Africa for just 45 runs in only 19.2 overs. There were many that said that we should just give up on International Tests altogether as we were embarrassingly uncompetitive. That was in January. Fast forward to March. What a difference 62 days made!
I think I speak for all the supporters when I say that all we wanted was to see you put up a decent fight, and not capitulate. Honestly, a lot of supporters expected you to lose badly to England. A bit of a Fire in Babylon type battle would have been great, but just a good stoush was what we needed to see.
Well, we were in for an unexpectedly good show. Top of my mind is that opening stand in Dunedin with 2 Metre Peter and Hamish Rutherford. Hamish had that phenomenal Test debut with 171 runs. And it was a beautiful innings to watch- really top quality cricket shots and, even better, a display of guts and courage. Jimmy Anderson did his best to rattle them with his bodyline bowling. Hamish took a number of shots to the body, and we didn’t even see him wince. He just stared back at Anderson, showing no emotion at all. The bruises on his arm just kept getting bigger. Anderson got stroppier and stroppier. That was 1-0 to our Hamish.
And 2 Metre Peter, bless him. I don’t think anyone expected him to turn into the giant that he became. He was unflappable, doggedly determined at the crease. I heard a story that when Anderson was giving him some lip, he just eyeballed him and quietly said “look at the scoreboard mate”.
By the second test, I am sure that the BlackCaps support had increased tenfold. All the nay sayers who were calling you the ‘BlackCraps’ had gone quiet. All the talk at Saturday junior cricket was about whether we could dare to hope and dream of a BlackCaps Test victory against the POMS.
It’s a shame the weather had to intervene and rescue the English, because we had seen some real signs that the BlackCaps had fire in their bellies and a real desire to win.
So, onto Auckland and the final test, where weather was not going to play a role. I met some of you BlackCaps on a rest day before the Test and I recall being surprised at how relaxed you all were. I talked about the Test series with Kane Williamson & Dean Brownlie and I told them that you’d already given us more hope than we believed possible. I also said that we just wanted to see you all stand up to the English, and do us proud. At this point I did also confess that I would do anything to follow the BlackCaps to the UK in May so that I could be in the stands waving my BlackCaps flag and with my ‘Bucko Rocks’ banner, to which Kane laughed!
I don’t think any of us New Zealanders expected half of what we got at the Auckland Test. Beefy Botham said it would all be over after three days and he would be going fly fishing again with his spare time. No chance mate.
We saw our newest hero 2 Metre Peter get back to back centuries, and we saw the BlackCaps fighting right down to the very last over on the 5th day. I took my boys out of school to watch the final day of that Test because I wanted them to have a real life lesson in courage, tenacity and sheer bloody determination. Plus I wanted them to be there when we won!
The image of that attacking field where McCullum had seven fielders around the batsman is something I won’t forget for a long time. It felt like the 1980s, like we were playing Australia in the golden days of NZ cricket! We were attacking, aggressive and on fire!
Due to some batting brilliance from Prior, we were sadly denied the opportunity to win it. But, you BlackCaps won our hearts, and you know what? I think we’ll keep you there for a long time to come.
Just keep on doing what you did. Go to England, heads high and do us all proud. We’ll be watching.
Love from Ruth, on behalf of all your supporters.