‘We’re gonna win. You’re gonna win. We’re gonna win’: how New Zealand all but took the 2019 World Cup title

Ian Smith, Lockie Ferguson, Ross Taylor and Shane Jurgensen look back at probably the greatest ODI ever


Ross Taylor, New Zealand batter and former captain: I can only imagine how many games of cricket I’ve played and I’ve never seen that happen.

Lockie Ferguson, New Zealand fast bowler: I forget how long we were out there, but it felt it was longer than the two-day semi-final.

Ian Smith, Former New Zealand wicketkeeper; commentator: There were things that happened that you would never have imagined. Maybe once or twice in your career, but all on the same day?

Shane Jurgensen, New Zealand assistant coach; former fast bowler: Thought I’d get over it, but you don’t. It brings it all up once again and it’s bubbling away.

The greatest ever game of one-day cricket took place in July 2019, when New Zealand met England in the World Cup final. These four men were there that day – the veteran, the rookie, the commentator and the coach. Let them tell you a story you had to see to believe.

Smith: I was optimistic, really, that New Zealand, because they had a lot of players involved in that final at the MCG, they could carry on, would’ve learned from that. They always say that to win a big final you have to have lost one first, and they did certainly do that in 2015.

The night before, I was pretty relaxed. I was with my great commentary mate Simon Doull. Brendon McCullum had flown all the way out to England because he had promised that if New Zealand made the final, having gone home, he’d come back. So we had a quiet little drink and a quiet little chat about it and we felt pretty good.

We always talk about 2015 with Brendon when he gets a bit chirpy. We always remind him of that first over from Mitchell Starc.

But moving on…

Smith: We felt like we had enough match-winners in our group to match what England had. You know, when you had the likes of a [Kane] Williamson and a Taylor and a [Trent] Boult, these important players who had been there and done that, it’s quite an advantage. And, you know, England hadn’t won either. So we started off on a pretty even keel.

A match like this means many things to many people. To some, it was a second chance. To others, it was a mark of how far they had come.

Ferguson: There were certainly a few times where we sort of pinched ourselves, and in fact, Jimmy Neesham was the one to say: “Hey, remember not too long ago, we were just playing for Auckland Grammar and trying our best to win games for Auckland Grammar, and here we are, playing together in a World Cup in front of sellout crowds?”

I know we had some success in the previous World Cup, which definitely paved the way for us as a team in terms of the culture we had. But to front up four years later once again and almost go one step further… To front up again and play in a country that’s not our home country and perform just as well was very rewarding. I didn’t even know if I was going to be starting. I was just happy to be in the squad.

July 14. The Home of Cricket. It’s time.

Smith: Very busy, the morning of any cricket match. But a World Cup final is slightly different because there’s every form of media from the world. Everyone wants a little slice of the action. I mean, you walk across the road from the hotel to Lord’s and it’s literally a five-minute walk to the commentary box, but they’re saying you’ve got to get in two hours before the game starts and you go, “What?!” And they said, don’t worry, there’s plenty to do. And they were right because before I knew it, it was time for the toss and the game was about to start.

It’s everyone doing everything and everyone, of course, wants to get it absolutely right. Because this isn’t rehearsal. This is going to millions upon millions of people around the world and you don’t want to get it wrong, and that’s when you realise, even if you’ve been a commentator for as long as I have, that there’s a special edge to this day. You’re about to present the biggest show in town.

You notice it from producers. You notice it from fellow commentators. You can hear it in the director’s voice. You can see the cameramen. Everyone wants to get that perfect shot and everyone wants to talk about it. It’s the pinnacle from a commentary point of view. It’s the best.

New Zealand make 241 for 8. At the time England had a habit of scoring about twice as many in 50 overs. They were going to walk it, except… you know those hallways in the movies that just keep going and going, with the end forever out of reach? As hard as both teams tried to get to that finish line, it kept eluding them.

Taylor: I think we wanted 250 – that was the sort of total we wanted. Jofra Archer bowled very well, and we probably felt we were ten short. But with runs on the board in a World Cup final, we knew it meant something. We knew we didn’t have enough in 2015 – 183 was never going to be enough, but 241 on a wicket that had a bit of tinge to it, and with clouds rolling in, we knew we had a chance.

Unlike in most other sports, the outcome of a cricket match is intricately woven into the conditions in which it is played. A few overs’ sunshine at the start of the chase might have broken the contest. Instead, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow walked out to overcast skies and prepared to face perhaps the best left-arm swing bowler since Wasim Akram.

Ferguson: Boulty leads with his actions, with his bowling. He’s obviously a character off the park. He laughs and jokes around, but with the ball in hand, he’s all focus and he is clutch. So he’s certainly a guy we take a lot of confidence from as a bowling unit, and someone we definitely listen to when it comes to making plans and understanding where we are at in a game. When we’re trying to make a play, he gives us that confidence, and when it’s not going right, he tells us to keep at it and keep building the pressure. So the invaluable experience that he brings is amazing.

Taylor: We knew we had to get off to a good start, and obviously Boulty trapped Roy first ball, but Marais [Erasmus] didn’t put his finger up, and we reviewed it. It had some chunk of the ball hitting leg stump, but it wasn’t to be.

That may well have been sliding-doors moment No. 1.

Jurgensen: I was sort of walking around the boundary and talking to some bowlers. Colin de Grandhomme came on and he really put the brakes on the England innings and got Joe Root out. The small New Zealand contingent in the crowd was really getting behind every dot ball and the atmosphere really started to take off.

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