A couple of weeks ago, when I was taking a little too much pleasure in England’s departure from the Cricket World Cup, a Pommy colleague desperate to shut me up said something that stopped me mid-sledge.
“You do realise,” he said, “that the Kiwis could end up winning both World Cups.”
Oh crap, I thought. Our neighbours across the ditch are insufferable enough on the rare occasions they take home rugby’s greatest prize. If they cracked cricket’s Holy Grail, we’d never hear the end of it. All that gloating in all that strangulated English.
“Pull the other one,” I said, making sure to work ‘Bangladesh’ five times into the next three sentences.
After all, what are the chances? We’re talking about a country that has a flightless bird as its national symbol.
A country that an Aussie bloke once tried to sell on eBay and couldn’t fetch a bid higher than $3,000.
A country where the sheep, even at half the peak of their population, still outnumber the people by about eight to one. And yes, the picture above is an actual sign on Waiheke Island.
A country best known for Dave Dobbyn’s Slice of Heaven, Hobbits and this little critter.
Where on earth could they find the firepower to take World Cups in two different sports?
I thought little more about the exchange until Tuesday night, expecting South Africa to put an end to the fanciful notion.
The Black Caps have faltered at the semi-final stage of the Cricket World Cup six times, even more than the Proteas. With two overs to go, it looked like it was going to be seventh time unlucky.
Grant Elliott and Daniel Vettori, cricket geriatrics who could qualify for a pension between them, still had 23 runs to find.
Elliott looked for them high, high, high in the air. He would have been on his way back to the pavilion had J.P. Duminy and Farhaan Berhardien, running for the same catch, remembered to say ‘mine’.
Then Vettori stuck out his bat in the hope of giving the strike to his teammate and accidentally scored a boundary.
Dale Steyn, no doubt sick of being despatched to the car park, started cramping. A rub and a stretch and he was back into his run-up, the ball was back in the car park and In Zid was into its first World Cup final.
And, of course, we Aussies are delighted for them. So happy. Absolutely thrulled to buts.
Yes, there may be a bit of argy bargy in the trans-Tasman relationship at times but it’s really nothing more than friendly sibling rivalry. A Chinese burn here, a wedgie there. The odd post-it note on the bum saying ‘kick me’.
Really, we love them like brothers. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to prove that on Sunday.