Sport gives you a good memory, but it certainly wasn’t a happy flashback for Jimmy Neesham when he fell short of his crease off the penultimate ball of a thrilling Trans-Tasman rivalry contest at the HPCA Stadium here on Saturday.
“Actually, that was the first thing I thought of when I was coming off, that it’s going to look very, very similar. I mean, that’s the nature isn’t it? You want to be desperate in those situations, and you’d much rather get run out on your stomach than on your feet,” Neesham said after the Kiwis yet again found themselves on the wrong side of a nail-biter, pipped by the Australians by five runs in a tense World Cup match.
Neesham was referring to Martin Guptill’s run-out in the 2019 World Cup final that consigned New Zealand to an agonising defeat on boundary countback, a rule that has been done away with since.
With seven runs needed off two balls, Neesham failed to put away a full toss from Mitchell Starc and was forced to come back for a desperate second run after heaving the ball to deep midwicket.
Wicketkeeper Josh Inglis dived after picking up a slightly wayward throw from Marnus Labuschagne and left Neesham with the sole consolation of getting run out on his ’stomach’.
The parallels with that fateful final from four years ago didn’t end there for Neesham as the all-rounder weighed in on the vagaries of the sport.
“You work for six and a half hours every day, and it comes down to potentially two deliveries. Four years ago, we worked for two months, and it came down to one delivery. It is just the nature of the game. The World Cup seems to bring out these contests with a bit of desperation. I think it was incredibly impressive how close we got,” he said.
But the 33-year-old, who says he is at the ‘back end’ of his career, doesn’t focus on the results anymore. After all, he has also been on the right side of tense contests, most notably when he defended seven runs in the final over against West Indies in 2019 and had Carlos Braithwaite caught in the deep off the final ball to seal a five-run win for New Zealand.
“I don’t focus on the result as much anymore. That’s one of the things you learn as you get a little bit older. I am closer towards the back end of my career, so it doesn’t pay to stress too much on the results. Everyone wants to win, especially in world tournaments, but that can’t dictate how you want to play the game... On another day, one ball different, and the result is different,” he said.
Playing just his second game in the ongoing tournament and slotted into the eleven on Saturday only after Mark Chapman was ruled out due to a calf niggle, Neesham would have been eyeing a redemption after he was given a 27-run shellacking in the 48th over of Australia’s innings by Pat Cummins and Josh Inglis.
But the ever-maturing Neesham has probably taken a leaf out of Rudyard Kipling’s poetry and is treating ‘triumph and disaster just the same’.
“You learn from failure and success,” he says while also giving more prudent advice to aspiring sportspersons than he did four years ago.
“Definitely take up cricket. Take up whatever they want to take up,” Neesham quips.
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