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MIL OSI – New Zealand can hold its head high, sports professor says New Zealand can hold its head high, sports professor says

New Zealand can hold its head high in the cricketing world, University of Canterbury sports coaching professor Richard Light says.

The efforts and spirit of the team captivated the nation and took New Zealanders on an exciting ride to the pinnacle of one day cricket, the head of the university’s School of Sport and Physical Education says.

“The Black Caps played the Cricket World Cup in a way that represented the spirit of New Zealand, making a very positive statement to the world about New Zealand.

“They played with confidence, aggression, belief in themselves and the team and were a joy to watch. They were fearless, and as one of Australia’ most combative captains, Steve Waugh, asked his teams to do, left nothing on the field. Any team that does that can never have any regrets.

“The final was probably a little disappointing but the team’s performance at the tournament is beyond criticism. The team played the same way in the final that had taken them unbeaten through the rest of the tournament but on this occasion their lack of experience at this level was probably a disadvantage.

“Playing in front of 93,000 spectators in one of the greatest sport stadiums in the world with the weight of a nation on their shoulders is a tough ask, and particularly against a team like Australia that is so intensely competitive. Nobody choked – they did not quite play their best.

“New Zealand had been at the top their game for the entire tournament but it was widely assumed that if Australia were able to be at the top of their game in the final they would triumph.

“We should not let one game, even though it was the final, detract from the amazing achievement of the Black Caps and what they have done for New Zealand cricket.

“We should celebrate their fabulous achievement and look forward to the future. New Zealand has now emerged as a major player in world cricket and we should be ensuring that we build on this success.

“Prime Minister John Key said before the final that he expected huge growth in cricket among New Zealand girls and boys and this needs to be the focus of well thought out plans to grow the game. This is not only to boost the numbers playing cricket but also to follow the wonderful example set for the whole country by the Black Caps that goes beyond merely winning.

“The success of the Black Caps rested on a team-first ethos, belief in each other and the team as a collective, confidence and freedom of spirit that not only won games but won many fans in New Zealand and elsewhere. Above all, the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play demonstrated by the Black Caps set them apart from many other teams including Australia.

“The Black Caps provided a much-needed example of how teams can win without compromising the values and ethics of sport that are so often threatened. In this regard, New Zealand was the winner on Sunday night,” Professor Light says.