So. We’re 3 games away from winning a Cricket World Cup. Now what?

The Black Caps are starting to feel the pressure of growing expectation as they enter the knockout stages of the Cricket world Cup.

The team completed pool play undefeated with a three-wicket win over Bangladesh.

While the team is satisfied, others are proving harder to please.

They say winners are grinners and Mike Hesson was positively beaming as he and a handful of his team arrived in the capital, their perfect World Cup record intact after an uncomfortable night in Hamilton.

“We were challenged chasing a score like that, and to get over the line with different players standing up breeds a lot of confidence,” says Hesson.

That’s the glass-half-full view. Others don’t see it the same way.

“We’ve beaten a lot of teams convincingly and we’ve been told, jeez, we should really have a closer match, we’ll be underdone,” says Hesson. “Then you win a close game and, crikey, you haven’t played very well, so in all honesty it’s difficult to know what you’re supposed to do.”

Hesson admits the Black Caps weren’t at their best in the field against Bangladesh and didn’t nail their planning and execution with the ball.

But maintaining internal standards is one thing; meeting external ones is another.

The expectation now is not just to win, but to win well ? a bit like another team in black.

“The All Blacks is a good analogy,” says Hesson. “They have to win by a certain amount of points to get respect, and if they win by more than that the opposition’s rubbish, so it’s hard to find a middle ground really.”

With the Black Caps now three wins from World Cup glory, Hesson admits he’s been in regular dialogue with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

“I think we’re both aware of different pressures you face with a World Cup at home.”

Dealing with expectation is certainly one of those. But if the outcome is the same, everyone’s happy.

At this stage I don’t believe anyone cares how the Black Caps win, as long as they do. ?As supporters, we’e experienced at having our hopes dashed by a Black Caps that blow hot and cold.

But during the run-up to the world cup as well as the pool play, they treated us to something different: consistency. ?Yes, yesterday was a bit uncumfortable, but in the end it was a win.

Once again we’re left in a position where we are reluctant to “dare hope”. ?But, with three games to go, and all but a final at home, this is the time for the guys to just go out there and play their hearts out.

I’m supporting the Black Caps for a world cup win. ?They can do it on the day. ?Let’s see if they can string three of them together.


– Andrew Gourdie,?3 News