COMMENT: By Andrew Alderson in London
The way the New Zealand cricketers conducted themselves after the World Cup final "loss" to England (by zero runs) deserves a round of applause.
At the risk of getting too jingoistic, the side kept their dignity in clumsy circumstances. A cricket match being decided by the brawn of boundaries (England 26 - New Zealand 17) rather ignores the subtleties and finesse of the game. What about the guile behind wickets taken (England 8 - New Zealand 10)? Or singles to rotate the strike? Or dot balls? Each has a role to play.
There was irony too, that the International Cricket Council's player of the tournament was New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, a connoisseur of the crafty single.
Yet to a man, the Black Caps maintained a noble balance between expressing the emotion of their "defeat" and the grace to congratulate their opponents.
In short, they were stoic.
No one exemplified this better than the skipper.
How Williamson managed to grin – albeit entangled with the odd grimace - while reflecting on the result would be beyond most people's temperament range. He soaks up disappointment as well as he absorbs bowling pressure.
A career in the diplomatic corps might await, perhaps with the posting to the United Nations to solve matters like world peace. Or perhaps sent on secondment to the ICC, solving simpler matters like whether it might actually be okay to have joint winners of a tournament if two teams tie twice over the course of a final.
Sure, Williamson spoke of "a tough pill to swallow", "small margins", "uncontrollables" and the sport's "fickle nature", but there were never any excuses.
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He copped the loss sweet, and might now hanker to return to his surfboard at Mt Maunganui or the company of his guitar strumming something mellow from Mumford & Sons.
After the final question at his post-match press conference, Williamson was given an ovation – and some of the scribes even stood. This writer has never seen that from a normally cynical press pack over the course of his career. But the New Zealand captain had earned it.
England deservedly won the World Cup after their four-year white-ball revolution but, likewise, Williamson's New Zealand are revolutionising the face of the sport and making it a more lovable game.