Unlucky in Cricket: The New Zealand Narrative

New Zealand’s Cricketing Journey: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Martin Guptill reveals how New Zealand overcame World Cup final ...

Excitement. Happiness. Disappointment. Pain. Cricket is a game of many emotions. However, few fans have suffered as much heartbreak as the loyal Kiwi supporters. He’s got it! England have won the World Cup by the barest of margins! Agony! Agony for New Zealand! Despite entering almost every tournament as one of the favorites to take the trophy home, New Zealand never seems to make it to the finish line. In this blog post, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the entire history of New Zealand cricket and see what makes them one of the biggest chokers in cricket. Cricket has a rich history in this nation with the first recorded game in 1842. Cricket was a popular pastime sport even before this official match. The legendary Charles Darwin recalled seeing freed Maori slaves enjoying a game all the way back in 1835.

However, cricket really became a serious sport in 1894 when they formed their first national team and took on New South Wales. They lost that tie by 160 runs but got their revenge in 1895 when they took down the New South Wales team by 142 runs. New Zealand faced their first real international opponents in their neighbours, Australia, in 1904-1905. They couldn’t have asked for tougher opponents as this team featured cricketing greats Clem Hill, Victor Trumper, and Warwick Armstrong. As expected, they were thoroughly beaten, losing by an innings and 358 runs. This is still the second largest defeat in New Zealand’s first-class history. Sadly, the Kiwis had to wait a very long time for their first taste of test cricket. 25 years later, in 1930, they finally acquired test status as they faced off against the mighty England in a four-match series.

Although they lost the first one, the team showed great fighting spirit to draw the next three tests. Even more remarkably, legendary batting duo Stewie Dempster and Jackie Mills had a partnership of 276 for the first wicket, which is still the highest partnership for New Zealand against the Three Lions. The Black Caps had to play the waiting game again to register their first test victory. Even a team featuring all-time greats such as Burt Sutcliffe, Martin Donnelly, John R. Reid, and Jack Cowie failed to get any victories for their national side. After 25 long years, in 1955, the Kiwis finally won their first test match against a super-strong West Indy side featuring legends Gary Sobers, Everton Weeks, and Dennis Atkins. John Reid captained his side against this tough opponent and came out victorious thanks to some brilliant bowling from Harry Cave.

Unfortunately for Reid, this was one of the only wins under his captaincy. Over the next 20 years, New Zealand only won 7 tests and they had to wait till 1970 to win their first series against Pakistan. But this win kickstarted their road to greatness. The biggest lacking in the New Zealand side was their bowling attack. This all changed in 1973 when a young Richard Hadley burst onto the scene. This right-arm bowler had a dangerous outswinger that caught many batsmen by surprise. He also acted as a reliable middle-order batsman when his side needed it. His addition to the squad slowly but surely changed the course of New Zealand cricket. And in the other semi-final, West Indies, of course, the favourites to beat New Zealand.

The Kiwis clearly had no idea what a talent they had in 1975, as they decided to leave him on the bench in the World Cup semi-final against the Great West Indies, who won the match by five wickets thanks to a great innings from Alvin Kalicharan. The West Indies have won this match. New Zealand bounced back from this fairly quickly as they registered their first test victory against England just three years later in 1978, thanks to a 10-wicket haul from Hadley. In 1979, the Kiwis reached the semi-finals of the World Cup again, and this time, they did repeat the mistake of leaving Sir Richard Hadley out of the squad. Well, unfortunately for them, The England side they faced was just far too good, with inspired performances from Gramp Gooch and Mike Hendrick.

Over the next few years, many great players joined the team, including the greatest New Zealand batsman to grace the pitch, Martin Crowe. Don’t just take it from us, legendary Pakistani bowler Wasim Akram named him the best batsman he had ever bowled to. Crowe and Hadley formed an iconic duo who terrified bowling and batting sides alike. During the 80s, New Zealand became a strong test side. However, their ODI performances were not up to par with the quality they had in the squad as they failed to reach the semi-finals in the 1983 and 1987 World Cup. In the 1992 World Cup, This legendary side finally reached the semifinals, only to be knocked out by the eventual winners, Pakistan.

Around this time, the team would welcome one of its best all-rounders, Chris Cairns, a lightning-fast pace bowler, and a stylish middle-order batsman. Legendary batsman Stephen Fleming also joined the mix. Even with all of this new talent, the team could not make it past the quarterfinals in the 1996 World Cup due to some brilliant batting from the Australian Wa brothers. And there is Mark Worsh-Hundred, one of his greatest. The next year, their bowling side was strengthened even more with the addition of all-time great spin bowler Daniel Vittori. Yeah! That’s out! The team did slightly better in the 1999 World Cup, reaching the semi-finals. However, they were knocked out by an especially strong Pakistan bowling attack, boasting the likes of Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, and Siklain Mushtaq.

In 2000, the time had finally arrived. New Zealand won the first ever ICC trophy, the ICC knockout, under the captaincy of Stephen Fleming. They went up against a legendary India side featuring Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Yavarj Singh, and Captain Saurav Ganguly. Yet, They emerged victorious with a fabulous man-of-the-match performance from Chris Cairns, who scored 102 runs off of 113 balls. Surely, this was a sign of what was to come. Surely it meant that New Zealand could expect to win a few more trophies in the following years. Spoiler alert, it was not. The Kiwis would have to wait more than 20 years to get their hands on silverware again. we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Soon after taking home the knockout trophy, the New Zealand side would welcome the debut of future captain and explosive batsman Brendan McCullum in 2002.

From the moment he arrived, he lit up the dressing room with his exciting style of play and beautiful shots. One of the most versatile and destructive batsmen of all time, New Zealand had found themselves quite the talent in Baz. The 2002 Champions Trophy was a total letdown as the team failed to make it past the group stage. The 2003 World Cup did not bring much joy to fans either as they could not even make it past the second round. The team failed to make it out of the group stages of the Champions Trophy again in 2004, but they did reach the semis in 2006 where they were knocked out by a strong Australian side. 2007 was a special year for cricket as it featured two World Cups.

So how did New Zealand do in the inaugural T20 World Cup? Pretty well. They lost in the semis to a strong Pakistan side. As for the ODI World Cup, they performed similarly as they were knocked out by Sri Lanka in the semi-finals. T20 cricket did not bring about a lot of happiness for the Kiwis. Few teams were affected more by the Indian Cricket League controversy than New Zealand. BBCI abused its powers to stop all players in that league from receiving national team call-ups. This is because the Indian Cricket League was a direct rival of BCCI’s IPL. As a result, they could not call up vital team members of Shane Bond, Lou Vincent, Andre Adams, Hamish Marshall, and Darryl Tuffy. In 2009, The team would suffer their first international final defeat at the hands of Ricky Ponting’s Australia in the ICC Champions Trophy.

The Kangaroos won by six wickets thanks to a marvelous century from Shane Watson. The team also failed to make it past the second round of the T20 World Cup in the 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014 editions. In the 2011 ODI World Cup, they put in a respectable performance exiting the tournament in the semis to an incredible Sri Lanka side. In 2013, they had a poor run in the Champions Trophy where they exited in the group stage. The Black Caps entered the 2015 World Cup as an incredible side featuring exciting pace bowler Trent Boult, veteran spin bowler Dano Vittori, three incredible batsmen in Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, and Martin Guptill, and of course, the captain himself, Brendan McCullough. As expected, the team had a phenomenal campaign, going into the finals undefeated.

Martin Guptill ended the series as the leading run scorer with 547 runs to his name, and Trent Boult led the bowling charts with 22 wickets. Sadly, the team fell short against the Baggy Greens in the finals. The Australian bowling was just too good on that day, restricting New Zealand to a low score of 183 with some brilliant performances from Mitchell Starch, Mitchell Johnson, and man of the match, James Faulkner. Australia won the match by seven wickets and took home the trophy for a record fifth time. champions of 2015, ladies and gentlemen, the Australians. 2016 did not bring the fans much joy either, as they only made it to the semi-finals of the t20 world Cup, where they were knocked out by england by seven wickets.

This should be the end of the game. It is the end of the game. The 2017 champions trophy was no fun either, as they failed to make it past the group stage. With these recent showings, fans were not too excited about the 2019 world Cup, but the Kiwis were about to prove them wrong with a brilliant campaign. The team made it all the way to the finals with the help of Lockie Ferguson’s lightning-fast bowling and Kane Williamson’s leadership and excellent batting. But what happened in the finals still haunts New Zealand fans to this day. New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat first. They set a respectable target of 241 with Henry Nicholls and Tom Latham both putting in great performances. England then proceeded to tie the score following a brilliant innings from Ben Stokes.

For the first time ever, the World Cup Final would need a super over. It turned out, even the super over wasn’t enough to divide the two teams as they both scored 15 runs in the final over. In the end, it came down to boundary count and England took it home with 26 boundaries in comparison to New Zealand’s 17. Just like that, New Zealand had lost two World Cup finals on the bounce. As if that weren’t enough, The Black Caps also the finals of the 2021 T20 World Cup against Finch’s Australia with Mitchell Marsh and David Warner delivering some excellent performances. In the 2022 T20 World Cup, New Zealand failed to make it past Pakistan in the semis. They also finished sixth place in the 2021-2023 ICC World Test Championship.

A disappointing result, especially because they won the inaugural edition of the tournament. The 2023 World Cup was not the most joyous World Cup for the Kiwis either. Other than the discovery of batting talent Rasheen Ravindra, the tournament had few positive notes to take home. They were completely humiliated in the semis by the host nation India, failing to meet the monstrous 3.97 total and losing by a massive margin of 70 runs. Kohli, Gill and Iyer were just too much for the bowlers to handle and the batting lineup was dismantled by Mohamed Shamif. So why did the Kiwis keep choking? Well, your guess is as good as ours. We’re just glad that we got to see this amazing side finally lift a trophy in the 2019-2021 ICC World Test Championship.
Big wicket, Kohli. Whips that one away. Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson are there for this moment. Kane Williamson. We hope to see them find their stride and lift many more in the near future.

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