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New Zealanders eagerly welcome the opportunity to correct the record against Australia in The Spin.
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New Zealanders eagerly welcome the opportunity to correct the record against Australia in The Spin.


It can be tempting to believe that the existence of Test cricket relies heavily on the support of English fans, whether they’re purchasing snacks at Birmingham New Street or cheering with colorful shirts and playing trumpets with the Barmy Army in Rajkot.

However, Test cricket has the potential to relax and unwind in a comfortable deckchair, away from the pressures of competition. The upcoming Test match between the men’s teams of New Zealand and Australia, beginning on Thursday at the picturesque Basin Reserve in Wellington, is completely sold out. The second Test, to be held at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, is also predicted to have a full crowd.

It has been quite some time since Australia has played a Test match across the Tasman Sea. In fact, neither Mitchell Starc nor Captain Pat Cummins have had the opportunity to partake in one. Surprisingly, England has made three trips to New Zealand while Australia has not played a full five-day match on Kiwi soil since 2016. It seems that politics and financial gain have intertwined in order to produce a less than desirable outcome – but that’s just the curious workings of the International Cricket Council.

Despite the odds, the citizens of New Zealand, having recently witnessed the Black Caps defeat an impaired South African team 2-0, are prepared to face their loud adversaries. Despite being a small population of fewer than five million people, the majority of whom are passionate about rugby union, the New Zealand cricket team managed to not only claim the World Test Championship title in 2021, but they also currently rank at the top of the standings (while England trails behind in eighth place).

Despite the impressive and surprising accomplishments of the New Zealand Test team, the Australians are their biggest weakness, their vulnerable spot, and their constant source of distress. Since 1993, the Black Caps have only managed to defeat Australia once in a Test match, which was in Hobart in 2011. In the 21st century, they have lost nine out of ten home Tests against their rivals. They were even forced to follow on in the tenth match, and were only able to save it due to unfavorable weather conditions rather than a memorable comeback effort.

Winston Aldworth, sports editor of the New Zealand Herald, praises the impressive accomplishments of this team. However, they have yet to defeat Australia in Tests, despite being considered the greatest New Zealand team. Even on Boxing Day at the MCG, the team struggled to compete, giving off a “little cousin, big cousin” dynamic.

Pat Cummins and Tim Southee pose with the series trophy in Wellington on Wednesday.View image in fullscreen

“The New Zealanders have a tendency to criticize David Warner and Steve Smith, they believe in the narrative that they are unlikeable, it has been a common trend for us, similar to how we disliked Greg Matthews in the 1980s. We despise them because of their outstanding abilities.”

Aside from the general dislike of group performance, another factor drawing people to the venue is the broadcast of New Zealand cricket on free television until 2026. This comes after several years of the sport being restricted to a pay-per-view system, following the failure of the streaming service Spark Sports.

According to Aldworth, the time during which access to certain content required payment aligned with the best era of New Zealand cricket. This was when they were ranked number one and had many legendary players. Many individuals were unable to simply watch the Test match on TV and absorb it, as the “golden generation” of players were competing.

“Now that Ross Taylor has departed, the beloved soul of New Zealand cricket, along with [Neil] Wagner, Trent Boult, and Tim Southee, who are showing signs of decline – although Kane [Williamson] remains timeless – it appears that this may be the final opportunity for fans to witness the remarkable era of Test cricketers from Kiwi land.”

Wagner, known for his enforcing abilities, declared his retirement on Tuesday upon hearing that he would not be selected for the upcoming series against Australia. Last year, he played a key role in New Zealand’s Test win against England, taking four wickets for 62 runs at the Basin Reserve. This victory made them the fourth team to achieve a win after being made to follow on.

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He relocated from his home country of South Africa to New Zealand to advance his cricketing career, and it proved to be a successful move. He finishes his career with a total of 260 wickets in Test matches, with an average of just over 27. Among New Zealand bowlers who have taken at least 100 wickets, only Sir Richard Hadlee has a better strike rate. Sadly, the New Zealand fans were not able to witness another showdown between him and Smith, as he claimed the wicket four out of five times during the Kiwis’ tour of Australia in 2019-20. However, they can always remember him as the fierce and determined bowler who relentlessly delivered balls with full intensity.

Neil Wagner celebrates taking a wicket for New ZealandView image in fullscreen

The White Ferns have not played in a Test match for 20 years, since their drawn game against England at Scarborough. In a recent interview, Amelia Kerr expressed her desire to play the longer format, but it does not seem to be a main focus for the authorities, even though men’s Tests are popular.

The sport of cricket will forever take a backseat to the All Blacks in New Zealand, regardless of how many spectacular Test centuries Williamson achieves with no grand celebration. Aldworth shares an anecdote of his wife meeting Trent Boult at a sandwich shop and requesting a photo for their child. Boult kindly obliged and it wasn’t until they reached the checkout that she was questioned about not including Williamson in the photo, making her realize the true identity of her kind acquaintance.

According to him, the All Blacks are not just loved by the New Zealand public, they are also greatly admired and followed. However, when it comes to cricket, fans have a genuine fondness for these players.

  • This is an excerpt from The Guardian’s weekly cricket newsletter, The Spin. To sign up, simply go to this page and follow the provided instructions.

Source: theguardian.com