In December 2012, the BLACKCAPS packed their bags and embarked on a tour of South Africa during a turbulent time for our national team. South Africa is a challenging tour at the best of times, but it was particularly difficult for a side without one of their best batsmen and with four players who would debut during the tour. After the T20 series finished 2-1 to the home side, the two-Test series was, overwhelmingly, won by South Africa as the BLACKCAPS reached their lowest point.
But the leaders of the team saw this as their line in the sand and they set about developing a blueprint for success. It’s unlikely that they could’ve known how far that team would come in the next two years, with Test victories lining the record books and an unbeaten run through the Cricket World Cup leading them to their first ever final appearance. For all the heartache fans endured during that South Africa Test series, the turnaround since, both in terms of results and attitude, has been remarkable. And it all began with the ODI series which started four days after the second Test ended: a historic first ODI series’ victory in South Africa.
Just how good has the turnaround been? Since that Test series finished in January 2013, we’ve seen the BLACKCAPS register their highest individual Test & ODI scores (Brendon McCullum’s unforgettable 302 & Martin Guptill’s electric 237*), two sixth wicket Test partnership world records (thanks BJ) and an ODI world record for the same partnership. There’s been our best ever ODI bowling (Southee’s 7 for 33), our best Test figures on debut (Mark Craig in the West Indies), our highest World Cup score (393/6, in a quarter-final) and two highest Test innings’ scores (690 and 680/8 declared). They have also won a stack of series and ten ODIs on the trot heading into the Cricket World Cup final. The point to all of this is, since the BLACKCAPS drew a line in the sand, we’ve had to rewrite just about everything we know about this team and their records.
So, when it comes to writing the #statchat for the final having played Australia just once since this team redefined New Zealand cricket (100% record, FYI), the stats of what came before just don’t seem relevant. Instead, let’s look at what’s changed:
- Before January 2013, the BLACKCAPS’ ODI winning percentage was 42%. Since then? 58%;
- In this period, only India and Australia have better ODI winning percentages. Before January 2013, only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe (of the Test-playing nations) had worse percentages than the BLACKCAPS;
- Their new Runs Per Wicket average is more than 7 runs higher than it was previously;
- They’ve also added a full run to their Runs Per Over number too (tied with Australia for the best RPO in the last two years);
- The BLACKCAPS haven’t been dismissed for less than 150 in the last two years, while it happened 45 times in the rest of their history. In fact, the last time they were dismissed sub-150 was 2010;
- Every other Test nation has been dismissed for under 150 in an ODI during the last two years – in fact Hong Kong is the only other ODI-playing country not to have a sub-150 score. And they’ve only played 4 ODIs.
The players on the park deserve all the plaudits they receive for this turnaround, but credit is due to the unsung heroes: the coaching staff who have clearly defined the direction for this team, the management who have implemented so much professionalism and humility on-and-off the field, the fans who have always stuck by them.
So, when you hear stats being thrown around about just how good Australia are and just how hard it is for New Zealand to beat them, remember, records were made to be broken. Just ask the BLACKCAPS.