Before beginning their World Cup campaign the Black Caps gathered for a welcome at the New Zealand High Commission in London. There, in the penthouse overlooking the Thames, smiles spread as they swapped blazers and posed with members of a proud Kiwi cricket club that has been knocking about some of England's most notable grounds for almost 70 years.
London New Zealand Cricket Club (LNZCC) is something of a lost sporting bastion; a place where professionals and amateurs rub shoulders on the pitch, and at the pub.
Established with the blessing of none other than the Marylebone Cricket Club, traditional guardians of the game and custodians of Lord's, in 1952 during a post war time of coal-fired power stations and deadly smogs, LNZCC set about further strengthening ties between New Zealand and Britain through embracing the spirit of cricket.
New Zealand test cricketers Roger Blunt and Bill Merritt; influential Indian-born England batsman Errol Holmes, on the MCC committee at the time, and Otago's All Blacks winger Ian Botting were among those to combine in LNZCC's first match at Oxted.
Until the late 1960s, Wimbledon formed the team's home ground; specifically the 11 acres where court one and parts of the Henman Hill turned Murray Mound now stand. These days spectators gather here with picnics and Pimms behind the All England Club centre court.
LNZCC then moved to the appropriately named Maori Ground until that was developed for housing. They have since become a wandering side, their home base now the plush New Zealand House where they hosted the Black Caps.
Fostering 90 regular members, LNZCC play 27 fixtures of 40-over Sunday cricket each year at exotic venues such as Hurlingham and Hagley Hall, the Worcestershire home of the Lyttelton family who donated in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes and share close ties to Canterbury.
Hopes are high the club's 70th anniversary in 2022 can be celebrated by persuading Rob Lynch, New Zealand's chief operating officer at Middlesex, to stage a game on the Nursery Ground at Lord's.
With a price tag of £12,000, attaining the main pitch is almost impossible.
Other than the lavish venues, LNZCC host an intensely fought North v South match.
Tours to Denmark, Portugal and the Isle of Wight have been replaced by an annual Ibiza match, played on a rubber wicket in the middle of a football pitch, at the end of October to conclude the season.
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Such are Ibiza's attractions, the New Zealanders are yet to win a second day 30-over match.
Kiwis were first welcomed into the club off the 10 quid boats. An honour roll to turn heads has followed.
From the late Martin Crowe to Sir Richard Hadlee, John R. Reid, Bert Sutcliffe, Tony MacGibbon, Mark Richardson, Andre Adams, the Marshall brothers - James and Hamish, and South African great Graham Pollock – all have featured.
"I wish I'd got involved with LNZCC a lot earlier than I did," Hamish Marshall, who turned out during his 11-year stay with Gloucestershire, says. "I met some great people and played at some picturesque venues. It's a great club for newly arrived Kiwis to London. I'm a big fan of tradition so the cap and blazer are two items I'm very fond of."
Every year the club savours the chance to recruit Black Caps or All Blacks – former Highlanders and Crusaders openside flanker Sam Harding, who played one test against Fiji in 2002, the latest convert in recent seasons.
"If he hadn't played rugby he would have been an amazing cricketer," LNZCC committee member Gerard Walsh, who debuted in 2003 and has played over 100 games, says. "Talk about hit the ball. Holy smokes. As you'd imagine it's all shoulders."
Scott Baldwin opened the batting in Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder's New Zealand under-19 side and played one match for Central Districts. He has since turned lively bowler and is considered the best of LNZCC's current stock. Talented Australian under-19s batsman Sam Fanning is another to make a recent, elegant appearance.
"We still hope to persuade Kane Williamson and Trent Boult to play for us at the end of the World Cup," Walsh says. "With luck, they'll be carrying a trophy home instead."
White Ferns Suzie Bates and Rachel Priest are also on the wish list.
"We'd love to have members of the New Zealand women come and play for us. It would be very memorable."
Prior to New Zealand's tour of England in 1986, LNZCC played warm-up fixtures against the national team. Former New Zealand captain Glenn Turner put a stop to such outings, though, after test players picked up injuries in these matches.
LNZCC did, however, manage a light hit out before the 2009 Twenty20 World Cup in England.
"Sneakily we had a live training against the Black Caps. That was the last time," Walsh says, ruefully.
"They weren't bowling full pace. Those were the days when Ian O'Brien was in the side. The batsmen were just picking their shots. Had they opened fire it would've been all over fairly quickly both with bat and ball."
Walsh believes Graeme Thomson was one of the reasons Turner ceased this tradition.
Thomson played 47 matches for Otago from 1974-81 - taking 110 wickets at 28.9. And after 41 years of service, he is now LNZCC's longest-playing member.
In 1978 Thomson received a tap on the shoulder to make his test debut at Lord's. To tune up for that match, he opened the bowling with Hadlee for LNZCC against their touring New Zealand side, only to aggravate a lower back injury and never make the test team.
"Richard always claimed the top end with the wind and the brand new ball but I wouldn't have blamed him for that ever," Thomson recalls. "I got close to being fit for various games but it didn't happen. That's just the toss of the dice isn't it?"
Thomson went on to play for Worcester and Glamorgan but, even today, at 67 years young, his competitive streak is said to give teenagers a mean mid-pitch stare down.
"The body is still going but increasingly creaking. I run in off a few paces now and then. It would be fair to say I'm not giving anybody any sleepless nights."
Generations of lineage have passed through LNZCC, with Walsh's two boys Ben and Guy among those to graduate from plastic bat and tennis ball.
"I once had a call out of the blue from Mike Simm in Auckland who played in the 70s and his two sons, Blair and Guy, had played for us. It's a really nice way of feeling the club means something to people. You also see a lot of blazers at Lord's and back home."
In a message posted on the club's website, New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White enthuses over LNZCC's history and camaraderie, describing them as the "best little cricket club in the world".
"May the weather be fine and sunny, and the after-match full of bonhomie," White concludes.
Thomson, likewise, exudes passion for the team.
"This club is an amazing institution for New Zealanders in the UK. The fact it has been going nearly 70 years – quite aside from its illustrious history – is a remarkable thing.
"It still exists through thick and thin and that's testament to those in the club who dedicate an enormous amount of time, both financial and social, and have this wonderful ability to span the cultural divide between Kiwis and the English and bring us all together in the spirit of cricket."
While matches are competitively contested, cricket is ultimately the lubricant that binds Kiwis involved and opens doors for those new to English shores.
"They arrive here not knowing what the hell to do next and before they know where they are they've got a game of cricket, a whole bunch of friends they can go to the pub with who will introduce them not just to other New Zealanders but Poms here who might be able to get them a job and somewhere to live," Thomson says. "All that stuff really helps, too."
As with any form of cricket, LNZCC embraces tradition. Rules permit 25 non-New Zealand members at any one time; four pub trainings per year and the lowest-scoring batsman packing the gear bag. Walsh and others also attempt to oversee a "no dickheads" policy.
"We try to make it as low commitment as possible," Walsh says. "If you can hold a bat or bowl a ball, as long as you turn up and get stuck in. Anybody who plays more than five or six games in a season is doing far too much. We also never ever sledge the other side but you can sledge your own teammates as much as you like."
A feature of the team is their capping after five games – a process handed down from a 1960s bequest - and their stylish red (London), blue (Pacific Ocean) and silver (fern) blazer the Black Caps donned during their London welcome.
They could, yet, be the Black Caps' lucky charm.