By Niall Anderson in Manchester

The imposing figure of Carlos Brathwaite, unbeaten on 99 off 76 balls, stood 22 yards away, brandishing his bat like a club.

A weapon that had just bludgeoned Matt Henry for 25 runs from the 48th over, bringing the West Indies within eight runs of one of the all-time Cricket World Cup comeback victories.

And now, Jimmy Neesham had to come up with a plan to stop him.


Neesham, who had bowled five wicketless overs, conceding 33 runs, had been tossed the ball for the biggest over of the game by skipper Kane Williamson, and was now deep in conversation with the Black Caps senior leadership group, trying to solve a perilous problem.

How do you stop a player who was looking unstoppable?

In some ways, Brathwaite's dominance gave the Black Caps only one choice.

"Fundamentally, a guy like Carlos Brathwaite, he's got so much power, he spends so much time hitting yorkers and full length balls out of the park, I just wanted to really stay away from that strength of his," explained Neesham.

"We talked it through at the top of the mark with Kane, and the yorker was a no-go, the only other two options are length and bouncer, and you don't want to bowl a whole lot of length to a guy who is on [99 off 76 balls].

"I just wanted to try and get it up there as much as possible, luckily he's 6'5" so I knew there wasn't much danger of it going too high. I wanted to get it up high around his shoulder and his chin, and take a bit of pace off it with my wrist.

"I had a little bit of an advantage with a slightly longer side out to the leg side, which [Henry] didn't have the over before, so I just wanted to try get him to hit out in that direction."

Plan set, and to start, it worked a charm. After one delivery was watchfully defended, two short balls outside off lured Brathwaite into the pull, only for him to come up empty. The fourth was hit out to deep mid-wicket for two, before the fifth ball, a leg-cutter, drew another missed pull shot.


Things were getting a bit repetitive though, and it brought another debate for Neesham.

"Initially the plan was to try and get him to hole out to deep square, trying to go across the line, but after we'd bowled two or three of the same delivery, I had a feeling he'd get a read of what was going on."

One thing wouldn't change though – the short-ball approach, with Neesham digging another one in, and Brathwaite taking a mighty hack.

A hack that ended up mere metres short of clearing Trent Boult at long-on, but was instead caught on the rope, to the delight of an elated Neesham.

Carlos Brathwaite of West Indies walks off dejectedly after being caught by Trent Boult off the bowling of Jimmy Neesham. Photo / Getty
Carlos Brathwaite of West Indies walks off dejectedly after being caught by Trent Boult off the bowling of Jimmy Neesham. Photo / Getty

"Luckily he didn't quite get 100 per cent of it," he grinned.

"The plan was to get him to hit it straight up, but I think we'll take 71 metres to long-on.

"A couple of metres further and it might have been a different story."

Fortunately for Neesham and the Black Caps, the story will forever be of a plan that worked – a plan that delivered a fifth consecutive World Cup victory.

The Alternative Commentary Collective are podcasting their way through the World Cup. Known for their unconventional sports analysis and off-kilter banter, the ACC have come to ask the tough questions. Here's the latest episode of 'The Agenda':