As New Zealand celebrated wildly upon beating England in the T20 World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, all-rounder James Neesham gave a quiet reminder of the side’s determination to erase past heartbreaks by winning the decider.
Neesham, who thrashed 27 runs off 11 balls to help them reach their first world T20 final, sat with arms crossed and a sphinx-like expression as team mates leapt to their feet and punched the air after the five-wicket win was sealed.
A photo of the moment went viral on social media and Neesham re-tweeted it with the caption: “Job finished? I don’t think so.”
Long after players and officials walked off the turf at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, Neesham was still sitting on the sidelines, staring out into space.
The team’s batting coach Luke Ronchi was impressed with his reserve.
“It’s always nice winning semi-finals and getting into finals, isn’t it?” he told reporters.
“But all that means is you have another game left.”
New Zealand will meet either Australia or Pakistan, who play later on Thursday, in Sunday’s final.
For a country of five million people, the “Black Caps” have long punched above their weight in cricket and captured the inaugural World Test Championship in June by beating Virat Kohli’s India.
Success in the biggest showpieces of short format cricket has proved elusive, however.
New Zealand reached the final of the last two 50-over World Cups, losing to England by a technicality in the 2019 classic, four years after being well-beaten by Australia in the 2015 decider.
After losing the 2019 final on boundary-count, the since abandoned method of determining the champion after a tied “Super Over”, Neesham captured New Zealand’s 2019 heartbreak on Twitter, saying: “Kids, don’t take up sport. Take up baking or something. Die at 60 really fat and happy.”
Two years later, New Zealand and Neesham have another chance at redemption.
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