At the end of the New Zealand innings we hadn't scored quite enough runs to win. 245 was a par score and we stopped at 241. Oh well, nothing new there. Bring it on.
That innings wasn't all bad. Martin Guptill hit a four in the first over. Henry Nicholls appealed an lbw and he was right, and went on to score a decent 50. Guppy flicked the ball back over deep third man for six and then a four straight past the bowler. They played the Black Seeds, they played Dragon - Take me to the April Sun in Cuba - they played Split Enz. That was nice of them.
But when Guppy was caught plumb in front, he looked spooked and angry and who was Nicholls to tell him, no dude, you were out. Which he was, and later Ross Taylor couldn't appeal when he was wrongly given out and that was how it went. Batsmen got themselves in, everyone to double figures, and then got themselves out again. Three soft catches. Fast bowlers trundling it down and the batters not spotting it, over and over. And there would have been a dozen run outs if the English knew how to throw the ball.
We bobbled our way past 200, slowed down at the end and dribbled to 241. Then the English innings began and first ball Trent Boult trapped Jason Roy right in front. Umpire says no. Appeal says yes, the ball was hitting leg stump, only there's this weird cricket rule that says it's not really yes. Not out.
When England reaches 34 -1 in the eighth over, commentator Ian Smith says we're in an absolute thriller of a game. That was nice, too. They're hitting boundaries or not hitting it at all. Jason Roy makes another mistake and this time he really is out. The batsmen are trying to be confident but they're looking scared. Matt Henry's bowling too well for them to hit the ball. Colin de Grandhomme drops one off his own bowling. The score climbs past 50.
It went like this. In 2015, cap'n Brendon McCullum and coach Mike Hesson reinvented the Black Caps almost in the image of Australia. They were magnificent, commanding, thrilling to watch. They smacked the ball all round the park and they bowled the opposition inside out. They were liberating: they released us from the yoke of modesty.
They had a slogan and it was: Australia? Who The Hell Is Australia?!!
They strutted all the way to the final, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in front of 93,000, where Australia delivered the answer. McCullum out fifth ball. All out for 183. They returned, modestly, back home.
England, meanwhile, had been humiliated, not able even to advance from pool play, and spent the next four years turning themselves into a swaggering, smack-yo-face team, just like Brendon McCullum's Black Caps.
The Black Caps, on the other hand, turned themselves into something else. Kane Williamson's Black Caps. Slogan, as supplied by new coach Gary Stead: How can we be a little bit better than the other guys?
Williamson: The guys are shattered, truly devastating
Cricket World Cup 2019: Five magic Black Caps moments
McCullum was all about death or glory, and boy was that something. With Williamson, you put the ego away. You don't have to play the perfect game. You don't have to be glorious.
And the trick of it is, you'll end up glorious anyway. What a trick. You end up glorious anyway.
Joe Root, England's best batsman or so they say, can't get started, and eventually is out for 7, after facing 30 balls and playing and missing at most of them. There's a sniff of something. The crowd chants and waves signs. In the Long Room men stuffed into suits and ties go through their strange rituals. There's a man with a spyglass kept steady on a stick.
Then it's Jimmy Neesham's turn to bowl. Eoin Morgan whacks his first ball towards Lockie Ferguson, who runs, throws himself forward, arms out in front, takes the ball in two hands just above the ground, lies there, staring at the magic of it. 86-4. Colin de Grandhomme bowls through his 10 overs for 22 runs, with a wicket, and that's magic too.
But Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler are batting now, and they settle in. They're pulling over the fielders' heads and driving through the gaps, twisting their wrists and slipping it round behind them, and up comes the 50 partnership. None of the Black Caps batted like this. None of the Black Caps bowlers can do anything about it. When Morgan was out, the odds, for the first time in the game, had swung towards New Zealand. Now they've swung back.
For Matt Henry's last ball, Buttler gets under it and flicks it back. It's almost a six. None of the Black Caps even attempted a shot like that. Ten overs to go, 72 runs needs, 6 wickets in hand. This is not good.
We've been living in such revolutionary times. Before McCullum and Hesson, no one in New Zealand had ever said, we can be better than Australia at being Australia. And before Williamson and Stead, no one in the world had ever said, how do we be just a little bit better?
But we know now what that means. Analyse the opposition. Analyse the conditions. Analyse everything and grow the mental skills to do what you know you should do.
Assuming the playing competence is there, you win a game of cricket when your mental skills are strong enough.
There was a telling moment – a long dreary sequence, actually – in the semi-final victory over India, when the guest commentator, Australian Steve Waugh, thought he was watching boring cricket and spent the time talking about his own glory days in the 1999 World Cup. On and on he went, not even calling the play, while out on the pitch in front of him, Williamson and Ross Taylor were picking apart the Indian attack, learning the pitch, painstakingly compiling runs on a surface that defeated every other batsman that day. Including several superstars of the game. Waugh didn't even notice.
There were many heroic efforts from New Zealand players in the India game, but don't forget that one: We had two batsmen who knew how to be a little bit better than the other team, and it turned out they had none.
That's a rule?
At 69 runs from 54, they're playing Hey Jude. Don't make it bad, sing a sad song and make it better. Actually, it's the nah, nah nah, nah nah nah nah bit. Are they rubbing it in?
These guys. Ross Taylor, who always looks so worried. You want to say relax, Ross, it might not happen, but you know and he knows it might. Ferguson, with the smartest moustache. All of them, such teeth, such haircuts, such grins.
Buttler gets to 59, which feels a little unfair to the Black Caps' Henry Nicholls, whose 55 was the highest score of the game until a minute previously. Then he's out, caught in the deep. 196-5. And the next guy, and the next. Trent Boult stops a six but steps out.
Almost at the end Neesham bowls to the new English bowling star Jofra Archer, who stands in front of his wicket but still gets bowled. The Black Caps will win. But Stokes hits a six, and then a two, and gets in the way of the return and the ball runs away for another four. That's a rule? Apparently that's a rule. It ends in a tie.
So they play a super over, one each, and the heroic Jimmy Neesham almost wins it again and the also-heroic Jofra Archer almost loses it and there's Martin Guptill, sprawled on the pitch. He needed two on the last ball and he tried so hard to make it back, so hard, and he's lying on the pitch with five million people lying beside him.
We do it to ourselves. We love doing it, these big sporting moments when we say, this is us. We are the Black Caps, we are the All Blacks, we are the Silver Ferns, we are Kane.
Who's this we?
Right now we're that guy, Kane Williamson, not as big as most of the others, walking with head down like there's something really important to look at on the ground, hands a little stiff, sometimes they clench right up.
He'll look up and speak if spoken to, quietly, he'll be a little abashed but not tongue-tied, he's fine with talking but he just doesn't think it's quite as important as some others obviously do. He's good with it. He's got nice eyes. He hides his face behind a beard.
When he picks up a cricket bat he's better than everyone. Not because he can hit the ball harder or further, but because he knows how to get more runs: How to read the pitch and the bowler, how to select shots and play them, how to be brave, how to focus, how to stay calm and think and act – and he's trained himself to do all these things more quickly than would be humanly possible, if you made the mistake of stopping to think about it.
We are that guy. Are we always that guy, the captain of the Black Caps? It's not like the All Blacks, with a captain to idolise precisely because he's awesomely not like us. Not like the America's Cup skipper, a patrician in a land of lads, even when, like Peter Burling, he's not. Not like the captain of any team that usually wins.
We are the team that doesn't quite win. We are the guy who gets us close. It's the Black Caps, not the All Blacks, that feels truer, to me.
Back in 2015, we were the brilliant larrikin, Brendon McCullum. The new New Zealand, just like the old Australia. It was fun but it wasn't quite right.
We're Kane, aren't we? Vulnerable, introverted, the player of the series, the kid with something wonderful inside him, determined to find a way to get it out. He'll do it. He is doing it. We'll do it too.