Bengaluru, April 16: Every team has at least one good memory attached to World Cups, even if they haven't lifted the cup ever. New Zealand are one such team in cricket. The Black Caps' best performance in the quadrennial tournament was finishing runners-up in 2015 but perhaps it is their dream run in 1992, also at home, that appeals to the cricket romantics more.
That was the first time that New Zealand had such an authoritative run at the World Cup and they beat almost everybody that came on their way, thanks to some brilliant captaincy from strategy master, the late Martin Crowe.
Gavin Larsen, one of the members of the NZ squad in the 1992 edition, revealed years later how it was like for the team when it started putting up such an incredible performance. The former captain who was known for his wicket-to-wicket miserly military medium wrote in a piece in ESPNcricinfo, things were not as smooth before the tournament began. New Zealand had a poor series against England at home and the terms between the board, selectors and captain Crowe were far from smooth.
However, things changed once New Zealand trounced defending champions and co-hosts Australia by 37 runs at Eden Park, Napier. "When we beat Australia there was a release of emotion. Like, "Wow, are we on to something special here?"," Larsen wrote in his piece.
Crowe's own batting form aided NZ's cause (he ended up as the highest scorer of the tournament and bagged the man of the series award) and the co-hosts went on to win seven games in a row to top the group table. Their only loss in the league stage was in the final game against Pakistan to whom they suffered a heart-breaking loss again in the semi-final, thanks to Inzamam-ul-Haq's belligerence.
But till that tragedy, New Zealand cricket had nothing less than a honeymoon. Larsen even revealed in an interview with ESPNcricinfo that the country's politicians expressed desire of coming to the team's dressing room and click photos with the players (somebody rightly said, the last page of a newspaper has stories of success while the first - those of failures) while people patted on the cricketers' back whenever they passed through public places.
'NZ cricket saw a tidal wave'
"That doesn't happen that often. To win seven games in a row was unprecedented. It created almost a tidal wave of cricket enthusiasm in the country and it was neat to be a part of it," he said, also adding the boundless disappointment that had come once NZ failed to make their first-ever final by falling a helpless victim to the cruel law of average in the game.