By Niall Anderson in London

Twenty-nine years ago, Gary Stead was cleaning windows at Lord's.

Tomorrow, he will walk back into cricket's most hallowed ground in charge of the Black Caps, just 100 overs away from clinching New Zealand's first Cricket World Cup.

The Black Caps coach has been calmly pulling the strings behind the scenes during his side's run to the final, with Stead similar in many respects to captain Kane Williamson – unassuming, strategic and more concerned with substance over style.


Now, he prepares for the biggest game of his coaching career at the same venue he was working as a member of the groundstaff as an 18-year-old.

"You had different duties when you turned up. One of them was pavilion duty, where you got to clean the windows and take the mail around and selling scorecards and a wee bit of scorebox duty as well, which was pretty cool," Stead reflected on the eve of the final.

"It's a great experience coming back here at any time but the extra emphasis about what this is about makes this more special."

Black Caps coach Gary Stead. Photo / Photosport
Black Caps coach Gary Stead. Photo / Photosport

Stead may hold happier memories of 1990 than he does of a fortnight ago, when his side visited the "Home of Cricket" only to be dismantled by an Australian bowling attack.

That was the middle of a string of three consecutive defeats which did not augur well for New Zealand's Cup chances but a stunning semifinal win over India has them back where they were four years ago, desperate to go one better.

"There's been a real fight and steeliness in the way we've played," said Stead.

"I hope we keep putting our best foot forward for the final. When you strip it all back, it's just another game of cricket and that's how we're trying to treat it as well."

Easy to say, harder to implement, but Stead is trying to keep his players grounded ahead of the biggest game of their lives.


"We'll talk briefly around the expectations and pressures, but until you actually face it, it's hard to know. You can do all the scenarios and training and everything you want around it, but you can't replicate what goes on in big moments like this."

And with the Black Caps having to scrap for every result this tournament, Stead teed up a golf analogy to explain why perfection is not required to raise the trophy early Monday morning.

"We're just going out there and playing the best we can and understanding you don't have to play perfect cricket all the time.

"You can play a par four and hit it down the middle, then the second shot, you can hit to the middle of the green, and you two-putt and get a four. Or you can hit your driver off the tee and it goes into the rough, hit the next one into the bunker on the side, flop it on to the green and sink a 20-foot putt, it's still a four.

"It doesn't really matter how you get there. At times, we've shown the ability to do it the second way, and I think that's important."

The Black Caps have found the green.

Now they're lining up the winning putt.