From breakfast at the hotel, to mid-game ice baths and technical analysis, all the way through to the post-game drug testing and the bus ride back home, Niall Anderson gets an inside look how the Black Caps' Cricket World Cup game day will unfold against South Africa.
The Black Caps take on South Africa in their fifth clash of the Cricket World Cup in Birmingham tonight, with a win set to take them back to the top of the table, and put them in prime position for a semifinal spot.
While the action on the pitch takes centre stage, there is a mountain of meticulous planning and preparation which goes on behind the scenes to ensure the 100 overs on the field go as smoothly as possible for the Black Caps.
From the day's start at breakfast, until everyone piles on the bus back to the hotel, there is no stone left unturned in preparing for the crucial game.
Here's how the Black Caps' game day experience will unfold against South Africa.
The night before
A quiet night in will be on the agenda for most of the Black Caps preparing to play at Edgbaston.
There are no curfews for the Black Caps on tour, with the coaching staff's general attitude being to treat the players as adults, who, once they are at the Black Caps level, are more than capable of making good decisions.
While occasionally a team meal will be organised, the players receive a daily allowance, so can go and get their own dinner, or order room service as they prepare for an early start and a big day ahead.
At the hotel
The team's first commitment on game day is when the bus leaves, so the players and coaching staff can work to their own schedule early in the day. Breakfast is served at the hotel, with some players preferring to head down early and eat before heading back to their room to prepare, while others will come down from their rooms ready to go, and have breakfast around 8am.
The Black Caps send nutritional guidelines in advance to the grounds or their hosts for their tours, and while they happily take the hotel offerings for breakfasts, team management also ensure that any allergies are looked after, and vegetarian and halal alternatives are available for those in the squad who require such options.
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A 45-minute window is offered for physiotherapy before the team leaves to the ground. Set up in the team room, the service is mostly used by bowlers, who come in at staggered times to get their strapping done so they are ready to go by the time they arrive at the ground.
Preparation is also aided by an "early van", which will leave for Edgbaston around 8am. Coaches and trainers generally jump aboard, as well as a few players who may want to have an early hitout.
Most of the Black Caps' equipment is already at the ground, with a bagman having travelled in a separate van, to ensure the changing room is prepared well in advance.
Cones are set up and warm-up drills put in place so that when the team bus arrives everything is in order.
On the bus
The Black Caps like to be at the ground 90-105 minutes before a match. With Edgbaston a short trip from their central city hotel, the bus will leave at 8.30am, with the aim of being at the ground by 8.45am, allowing enough leeway to ensure there's no stress if the bus happens to get stuck in traffic.
Music can often be heard on the bus ride. Trent Boult takes the reins of music and is also known to carry a speaker around in the changing room but some players opt to pop in headphones and enjoy their own pre-game tunes.
Cards are a popular travel choice, while the buses in England are often equipped with televisions, allowing the players to keep an eye on any other games that may be taking place – an especially handy luxury for travel days.
Senior players gravitate towards the back of the bus, with the juniors closer to the front, and the support staff man the seats closest to the driver.
At the ground
After arriving at Edgbaston, the players will immediately get into their routine. Food is available if needed, though is usually more required for day-night games, while individual stretching is the first task on the agenda.
The players then move on to warm-ups, with the hybrid "soccer-tennis" or "soccer-volleyball" an always-popular activity, before fielding practice, bowling warm-ups and batting throwdowns all take place around the oval.
The team will gather together at around 9.40am, where coach Gary Stead and captain Kane Williamson will address the squad.
The environment is relaxed until the toss, as neither the batsmen nor bowlers know when they'll need to be called on.
At 9.55am, Williamson will slip away early to get changed into his match kit. He receives two pre-prepared team sheets, checking to make sure the team has been correctly named, before handing one to the match referee, and the other to the opposing captain. At 10am, the toss is made, and the players get ready for action.
If the Black Caps are batting first, the top-order batsmen will hustle off the ground into the changing rooms to prepare. If New Zealand are bowling first, then the whole team heads back to the changing rooms, though the bowlers will ensure that their run-ups have been properly marked.
At 10.20am, everyone has to be ready for the national anthems, with the Black Caps support staff giving them a reminder a few minutes before to ensure punctuality. Both teams line up and head out for the anthems – the opening batsmen for the first innings already donning pans – and it's time for the game.
During the game
The fielding innings
As the chosen XI get to work, the four players left out still have a crucial role to play. When the Black Caps are fielding, the sub fielders work with trainer Chris Donaldson to prepare the drinks, protein bars and bananas for the players out on the park, and have to be ready at a moment's notice to service the players if any problems arise.
After a bowler – usually a fast bowler – completes an over, one of the sub fielders or bowling coach Shane Jurgensen will meet them on the boundary with a drink, towel and any required tactical advice.
The innings break
At the World Cup, the innings break lasts only half an hour, making for a quick turnaround for the opening batsmen if they have been in the field for the first innings. A swift stop for lunch will hastily turn into preparation to walk out to the middle, while, if having bowled first, the bowlers will immediately head for their ice baths to warm down, before grabbing a bite to eat.
A formal team talk isn't usually required from the coaching staff or captain, but informal chats will take place between players and coaches to potentially tweak any plans.
If it rains
With a chance of brief interruptions for showers against South Africa, the players may have to fill time. Some will play cards; others will kick a soccer ball around in the changing rooms, while a few take the opportunity to have a rest. Plenty of tea and coffee will be consumed, while often quizzes can take place – cricket, unsurprisingly, being a popular subject.
With the players and coaches not allowed to have their phones at the ground due to anti-corruption requirements, a select group of Black Caps staffers – support staff, security, media managers and the physio – are often relied upon to have a full range of weather apps on their phone to keep the team in the loop.
The batting innings
Much like Jurgensen's boundary chats with the bowlers, similar advice is utilised for when the Black Caps are batting. The team's analyst tracks every ball from the sideline, next to the coaching staff, while the incoming batsman usually sits close by, keeping an eye on the nearby television to get any extra insight as to how the ball or pitch is operating.
The sub fielders are still on call for any changes which are required to equipment such as pads, bats, gloves, or tape, while items such as throat spray are also essential to be prepared for, along with the regular essential drinks breaks.
In the sheds, the players and support staff will adjust to the mood of the game. If a partnership is going along well, there will be some banter and conversations, while if a couple of wickets fall or the match gets close, a quieter atmosphere is often observed.
As the players walk off the field, Williamson will walk over for the captain's post-match television interview. If a New Zealand player has won the Man of the Match award, he too will be required for a chat on TV.
One player will then talk at a post-match press conference 10-15 minutes after the final ball, before two further players will shortly after head to the "mixed zone" to talk with the assembled worldwide media. Depending on circumstances, a player or coach may be held back for an embargoed discussion with the travelling New Zealand media, to allow the team a media-free travel day tomorrow.
Those players not on immediate media duties will either have a post-game meal, or if they've just bowled, kept, or spent a long time at the crease, an ice bath awaits.
Once everyone is in the same vicinity, the team will gather for a post-game review, and acknowledge any milestones, partnerships, or general standout performers.
A beer may be cracked open to celebrate a win, but the team's philosophy of not getting too high or too low after wins and losses will reflect in a relatively level mood regardless of result. With the opposition changing rooms close by, South African players may swing by, or share a few words when leaving the ground.
Back to the hotel
The Black Caps like to be out of the ground 90 minutes after the final ball. Although they prefer to leave as a team, sometimes drug testing can delay the process, and a vehicle can be left behind for any player who may be dehydrated or in any way delayed by post-match requirements.
The security manager will keep count of everyone's arrival on the bus to make sure everyone is on board before the bus leaves – usually after the players have stopped for a few photos or signatures with the fans before boarding.
Once back at the hotel, the players can deliver their bags or equipment to the team room, where the team bagman ensures it eventually gets loaded onto the truck so it gets safely to Manchester.
The next morning
The players will have breakfast as usual and sort out any remaining luggage, with an early start required so the team can get on the road to Manchester.
Before they leave the hotel, the Black Caps will begin the batting and bowling scouting for the West Indies, before piling onto the bus once again, before midday, to head to Manchester. The travel day is an opportunity to relax before training the following day and the game the day after, with the players allowed some free time after arriving at the hotel in the afternoon.
Then, they get ready to do it all over again.