A Charles Dickens' 'it was the best of times, it was the worst of times' scenario has emerged in New Zealand Cricket today.

Matt Henry fronted his media conference on the banks of Melbourne's Yarra River to discuss his remarkable renaissance into the World Cup semifinal against South Africa.

Back home, Jesse Ryder was suspended from the final round (April 1-4) of the Plunket Shield after abusing an umpire while playing for Otago against Northern Districts on March 21 in Hamilton.

While commiserating with Adam Milne's omission due to a heel injury, Henry was thrilled at the turn of events which saw him bowl eight overs for 40 runs at Eden Park, including an initial spell of 5-2-9-0. Contrast that with Ryder not disputing a charge of serious dissent, including the use of offensive language, which breached New Zealand Cricket's code of conduct.


It could all have been so different. If Milne had stayed fit, Henry would have played for Canterbury against Ryder's Otago at Dunedin on Wednesday. If Ryder had behaved before the New Zealand 'A' tour to the UAE in November, he could have played his way back into the New Zealand team which play its first World Cup final on Sunday.

McCullum said when Elliott hit the winning six it was "without a doubt" the best feeling he's ever had on the cricket field. "We've had many people congratulating us today and saying it's the single greatest sporting event they've ever been to," he said. McCullum said the team were taking today to acknowledge what they achieved last night and would look ahead to Sunday's final tomorrow. "When you achieve something as special as what we have done you don't want to park it too quickly.

Instead, only Henry will be fulfilling his backyard dreams.

"This is definitely something I will never forget," Henry said. "As a kid, you grow up pretending to be these [cricketing] heroes, like playing with my brother out the back and going through scenarios like running in to bowl at a World Cup final.

"It's not a time to be afraid, this is something to enjoy. It's all been a bit of a contrast coming from the Plunket Shield, where there are not too many around, to everyone screaming my name at Eden Park."

Henry said he'd appreciated the support of fellow pace bowlers, Kyle Mills and Mitchell McClenaghan, who missed selection on Tuesday.

"It was felt Henry would respond better, having played regular first-class cricket to take 20 wickets at 28.55 since missing World Cup selection, compared to the other pair being net-bound. Henry has been an email recipient of the team's scouting objectives throughout the tournament.

"They [McClenaghan and Mills] have been fantastic. It was unfortunate, but that was the selection criteria. To get the nod was such an awesome feeling.

"We're a close unit, we do what's best for the team so the country can do well. We're all there in meetings building plans to get to our desired goal."


Henry got the call-up from coach Mike Hesson while at a cousin's engagement party. His first trip to Melbourne involved soaking up the atmosphere of the 'G' during a reconnaissance trip the team (sans Grant Elliott) took in October.

"We had a wee look around the ground to check it out and spent a few days here at the hotel and finding some favourite restaurants."

However, the ground was getting a revamp at the time. This week is the first time he will touch the turf. Henry said the team didn't need to fret about the MCG's size.

"We'll adapt to the conditions, nothing's changed there. We play on all sorts of different grounds around the world. We've got to embrace it."

Henry's girlfriend arrives today - a spot of shopping is on the agenda. His parents arrive on Saturday, while his brother will also attend with a few mates. He bought tickets weeks ago.