If New Zealand were a mate of yours, they’d be the one that nobody can quite pigeon hole.
Not quite the extrovert like the Indians, or the non offensive girl-next-door like the Sri Lankans.
Instead, they know that their quirkiness, sharp wit and willingness to be a little bit risque make them an appealing package to many.
New Zealand is that friend you had at college who was always under control when tipsy, dressed appropriately, but every now and then enjoyed doing something just a little bit out of the ordinary.
There was no rule book with New Zealand. Convention was for chumps or those that couldn’t think for themselves.
They would never deliberately aim to hurt anyone. They did not have expectations of you saying please or thank you either. They just did it their way.
They were your equal, and in many regards, your superior. And you loved that about them.
That mind. Oh that brilliant mind.
The Kiwis have a long and proud history of doing things their own way. Usually, it’s successful.
The late Martin Crowe was Mensa grade. He read the game better than most. He started the spinner’s revolution of opening the bowling during power plays. He knew that 13 bowling changes in an ODI meant winning the match. He invented Super Max cricket, which went on to be the precursor to Twenty20.
Stephen Fleming soon followed. Lauded as the best tactical captain in the game during his time.
McCullum brought with him helmeted 2nd slips and a mindset that said that winning came only after having fun. If the team wasn’t enjoying themselves, why bother?
New Zealand is now into the ICC World Twenty20 semi finals. They are undefeated.
They have done it defending scores 180,142 and 126.
They have done it by rolling favourites India out for 79. They beat Australia. They have just embarrassed Pakistan.
They have done it without Boult and Southee.
Their best two bowlers are in the squad. But instead of delivering swing, seam, containment and wickets, they have been charged with wearing an orange vest and running out drink bottles.
This is genius. Another step in the evolution of the Kiwi cricketing mind.
Your other mates would have worn their flashiest clothes to a Justin Beiber concert. New Zealand have chosen something practical that was never overly fashionable. They don’t care. They prefer fit for purpose and functional. Just like their bowling attack.
Santner, Sodhi and Elliott.
The scorebook doesn’t record your reputation.
That New Zealand are win away from reaching an ICC final undefeated by choosing not to use their two strike weapons is courageous.
That Nathan McCullum can help roll India, then get dropped for McClenaghan because of how the coach read the pitch was mature.
Win their next game, and your Kiwi mate has just made back to back ICC finals undefeated.
Not the flashiest mate you have.
Just the smartest and in full control.
The type of friend that a more mature person appreciates having in their life.
A butchered version of this originally appeared at First Post. They like to edit things. Probably for the better.