More often than not, things fall into place by design. Grant Elliott should know. On the night of March 24, 2015, in Auckland, he sent a rapturous Eden Park into delirium, when with five needed off two balls, he clubbed Dale Steyn over wide long-on to power New Zealand to its maiden World Cup final.
In a chat with a Sportstar, the 41-year-old former all-rounder relives the final two overs of the run-chase.
Q: The last over, with 12 to get, what were you and Dan Vettori discussing?
I felt like the game was missed once I hit a full toss straight to extra cover, but Dan’s shot down to wide third man gave us the edge again. With two balls to go, Dan said it was up to me to finish the game. I was the man in, on 70 odd. It is the most satisfying job in the world when you manage to be there not out and hit the winning runs.
Q: With five runs required off two and Dale Steyn steaming in, what was going through your head?
The first thing that went through my head is “don’t f%^& this up!” There was also the issue of my sister’s wedding, which I told her to book (On the day of the final). If I hit the winning runs I wouldn’t be able to go. What relaxed me was finding her in the crowd. So I looked towards where she was sitting and I didn’t want to be remembered as the guy who couldn’t get the team over the line in a semifinal.
Q: Looking back on that campaign, how does it feel now?
There were so many special performances which helped us get to the final. Tim Southee’s 7 wickets, Martin Guptill’s 200, Dan Vettori’s leadership and catch against West Indies, Brendon McCullum’s amazing cameos at the top, Kane Williamson six against Australia, Trent Boult’s whole tournament, Adam Milne’s pace, Taylor’s experience ….. the list goes on. Everyone stepped up when we needed to.
Q: Brendon McCullum’s influence on that campaign?
Brendon is someone who leads by actions He was in the trenches with us and demanded full effort. If he got that, he was happy and if he didn’t he would let you know.
Q: Last year, it must have been hard watching the final against England?
Quite frankly I can’t watch that game again! I felt for the players but the way they carried themselves was something which all aspiring future cricket stars can follow.
Q: How much has New Zealand cricket changed in the last five years?
I don’t think too much has changed. The 3-0 win in the ODI’s against India and then 2-0 in Test victories show what a world-class squad we have.