This article appeared in the Herald on 21 March 1992, the day New Zealand played Pakistan in the semifinal of the 1992 World Cup at Eden Park.

When Martin Crowe and his New Zealand cricketers remarked a few weeks ago that their aim was to reach the semifinals of the World Cup, not many of the 30,000 or so assembled for the match against Pakistan at Eden Park today would have listened attentively or sympathetically.

Not helped by a very shaky selection system, the New Zealanders had lost two of three tests to England and had been consistently outpointed in three one-day internationals.

In those dark days the World Cup was seldom mentioned in polite company.


The losses to England had obscured the fact that, compared with the stately and thoughtful and often inevitable course of five-day tests, the unpredictable progress of the one-day match still offered the kind of optimism that prompts the buying of lotto tickets.


Then came that happy accident of the New Zealanders discovering, on a dreadfully slow Carisbrook pitch, that with a constant diet of such nondescript pieces of dirt, what looked like a meek and mild bowling attack should be given some sharper teeth.

Having adopted a basic plan of defence - and, after all, one-day matches are basically defensive exercises - the New Zealanders then began to build the superstructure of what became a formidable battlecruiser.

First came the innovative captaincy of Crowe and his advisers, who rather turned the bowling order upside down, produced some new field settings and generally daubed some fresh and gaudy paint on the increasingly sober image of one-day cricket.

The defeat of Australia in the first game was the crucial effort of the whole campaign.

The whole team, indeed the whole country, were uplifted by that amazing display, when a bunch of rather nervous-looking New Zealanders dismantled what had appeared to be an unstoppable Australian cricketing machine.

Three days later came, again through accident, the injury to John Wright which was later to propel Mark Greatbatch almost to the point of becoming a legend even before his own lunchtime.


Had Wright not graunched his shoulder, Greatbatch may have had to wait, alongside Murphy Su'a, twiddling his thumbs.

Instead Greatbatch was launched into a match which had the South African faster bowlers working to an old-fashioned full-length, and which had Greatbatch hitting them with old-fashioned gusto.

The Australian match may have lit the fuse ... the South African game was the explosion. From that point until last Wednesday the New Zealanders were on this fabulous winning roll. Everything they tried worked.


And all along the way Crowe was organising his team, and his own batsmanship, to higher and higher levels of effectiveness.

He kept his own umbrella over a batting lineup that still needed a protective cover. He managed to wheedle his bowlers into a useful strike force.

And he drew to each game and each New Zealand performance the growing support of New Zealanders who had waited for a decade for such cricketing excitement and riches.

So by today Crowe and his men have already written one of the most spectacular chapters in New Zealand cricket.

For four crowded weeks they have made the world of cricket sit up and take notice of New Zealand and New Zealanders.

Noe the New Zealanders have to regroup and charge again today against a tough and tenacious Pakistan team led by a very talented man, Imran Khan, who has already shown a knack for touching a needle to the sensitive parts of the New Zealand cricketing psyche.

Imran brings many problems for New Zealand.

There is Javed Miandad, who probably makes as many technical errors at cricket as Lee Trevino performs in a golf swing, but at the end of the day Miandad and Trevino are usually where the money is.

There is the new mystery of Mushtaq Ahmed's leg-spin bowling, made more dangerous as long as New Zealanders try to sweep runs from him.

There is the further problem of what to do with the toss. After the defeat at Christchurch last Wednesday the popular thought was that the winning team would bat second.


There is no guarantee that Auckland's weather, which has minded its manners rather well this summer, will allow the full flow of the match, so the side batting second might become embroiled in those messy and unfair mathematics that have been the one blot on this whole dramatic tournament.

Should New Zealand's magical run continue then all New Zealand should rejoice, and with the prospect of a final easier to win than today's semifinal.

Should New Zealand lose, there should still be rejoicing. Crowe and his men have given us a golden four weeks, enough to sustain us even if we must wait another 10 years for the next messiah.

The cash register at New Zealand cricket headquarters has been beating out a new and heady rhythm.

Regardless of what happens today there are already stored in the memory the dizzy and dramatic delights of New Zealand cricket in February-March 1992.

Those will be the days when Martin David Crowe did not bother to drive to his Wellington office from his Eastbourne home - he simply walked there, across the water.