Richard Boock: Do not adjust reality - it's true

By Richard Boock

You could imagine the bedlam outside the medical clinics yesterday morning as thousands of New Zealanders lined up to have their eyes tested.

"I think I just saw New Zealand beat Australia 3-0, doc."

"Really? Well, take two of these with a glass of water and everything should be fine in the morning."

Like a scene from H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, it wasn't hard to tell who'd been up all night staring and shouting, unable to take their eyes off an event that was never expected to happen.

There were the ones who were staggering around with wild eyes, preoccupied with their thoughts, and looking as if they'd been visited overnight by Martian talking fish.

Then there were the ramblers, the gesticulators, still so thoroughly affected by the experience they kept blurting out snatches of the action to themselves, and to any unfortunates within earshot.

There were the doubters, the ones who kept pinching themselves, and the perpetually happy - the ones who infuriated non-sporting types by walking around the office with fixed smiles.

Someone must tell the New Zealand cricketers that they could at least give us a bit of warning before they pull a stunt like that again.

It's all very well to knock over England or Sri Lanka occasionally. That's to be expected. But sweeping Australia 3-0? It's a wonder people didn't panic, grab a few essentials and flee the city overnight.

At the very least, Stephen Fleming and John Bracewell should be reprimanded for their tomfoolery.

Now we've got to deal with not only a sizeable proportion of the population rendered incoherent by the past week's firestorm, but fairy godmothers such as Martin Snedden chiding us for ever doubting that it would happen.

Ye gods, how quickly things can change in a week.

Not seven days previous, New Zealand were limping home from Australia, out of the tri-series after losing six of eight matches.

And that was after an equally calamitous home campaign against Sri Lanka.

Fast-forward a week and the New Zealanders are being feted as champions after galvanising a nation with two of the three biggest successful run-chases in the history of the game.

If it wasn't for the number of witnesses, you'd swear it was a propaganda stunt filmed in an Auckland studio to boost public morale before the World Cup.

To see the Australians caving under the pressure, to watch their bowlers take fright at New Zealand's charge, and to see them standing in shock when the winning runs were struck ... it was as if the mind was playing tricks.

And it wasn't much different when Craig McMillan and Peter Fulton took the chance to reaffirm their international quality, causing a World Cup bottleneck that could put selection pressure on Scott Styris.

But the abiding memory will be the exhilaration of the Eden Park and Seddon Park crowds, who seemed to connect with the team on a near-spiritual level during the two run-chases.

There were times there when you could close your eyes and imagine the crowds of the 1960s and 1970s, the Hadlee-chants, the beer-cans being banged together, the towelling sunhats and the stubbies.

That's what Fleming and Bracewell's team helped give us this week (apart from the eyesight concerns) - a connection with our past.

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