This is the time: Archer to Guptill. Two to win. Guptill will push two. They must leave. This throw must get to the end of the guard! He understands. England has won the World Cup with the lowest margin. The thinnest of all margins. Absolute ecstasy for Britain, suffering, suffering for New Zealand …
That was earlier Ian Smith during the high octane moment of last year’s World Cup final at Lord’s. After his feet and adrenaline flowed through his body language, New Zealand completed a fierce battle between England and England New Zealand in the middle. His mesmerizing remarks during tense times, it was generally said, had lifted cricket broadcasts to a different plane when the home team won the final with an unprecedented countdown of boundaries during the match after the match ended with a double tie.
One year after the final, Smith, a former New Zealand goalkeeper, looks back at that iconic moment
Mirror and said he could remember the last moments by closing his eyes. Excerpt from the interview …
How well do you remember that moment?
I have seen it again on the recording several times. I usually don’t make it a habit to go back to old games. I can remember it very quickly. Past Nasser Hussain and Ian Bishop, the three of us in the comment box. We have been there for 90 minutes, usually one comment session about half an hour. So, we were there to absorb the whole situation for a long time. We all looked out the window. The Comment Box at Lord’s is probably one of the most beautiful in the world. I can close my eyes now and I can see the view easily.
You stand at the last moment. That’s a rare sight from the cricket game comment box …
I think that’s spontaneous. I only stood up a few times, I think the same thing happened at the end of normal time, when England tried to push for a second run to win too. I did not do it intentionally.
Would you say something different, in hindsight, at those times?
I think not. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t plan anything. I don’t know who entered into the situation who would win and how it would turn out. What I said just came out of what I saw.
The match must be full of twists and unexpected results. As a career commentator, are you preparing to face such possibilities?
As a commentator, you realize it’s not just any cricket game. You realize that it is the World Cup final. There is far more important to it. You can spend all day there among all the other commentators and you talk about the game and what will happen, what scenarios will happen. You really don’t know until you see a list of comments when you will do your work. So, that doesn’t mean you can prepare a script. If the game finishes early, you don’t get the last assignment, because it’s over. If this is a one-sided game, then you don’t have a high level of excitement. So you have to adjust. The best thing to do is undergo a game. Even when you are not in the comment chair, make sure you watch everything open. The World Cup finals are different, because of the importance of that.
Do you remember such iconic words from other games, like saying ‘remember the name’ from Ian Bishop after the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup?
I was in the final of T20. I was lucky to call Brendon McCullumthree hundred [in Wellington vs India, 2014]. No New Zealand (ever) scored three hundred. I was lucky to be in the World Cup semifinals before. Grant Elliott hit Dale Steyn for six to put New Zealand into the final for the first time and that was in front of 40,000 odd people in the Eden Park in Auckland. It was a fantastic experience. I was very lucky, for years. I work at rugby too. I was fortunate to be there in three Rugby World Cup finals too, which involved New Zealand’s victory.
Did you get feedback from fellow broadcasters or production crews or experts after the show?
I got lots of messages from my friends and colleagues. Not just words, not only publishers, not only commentators, it’s also about the people who put the photos together, who capture the pictures, the people who put pictures, who tell you about Super Over. Everything is put together by many experienced people. We are the people who get credit but without the right pictures and the right information, that’s impossible. It is a group effort.
Did you realize during the game that you gave history in cricket and broadcasting too?
I don’t think so, I know there will be a new winner. Either way, I have to be ready. But I didn’t realize that I had to do something better for it. I think the way the game is played, all the drama involved, takes me as a commentator to that level, it brings me. If you can survive with that, you will flow like a game.
What was the division of labor between you, the bishop and Husain during the last moments?
There is no division of labor. But you have a role. One person calls for action, which is me. Nasser Hussain was the first analyst, he got first glance at a rerun. Ian Bishop must add more than that. But if he hasn’t and we can’t add him, he knows there’s no point in talking. You know your role because when they send a list of comments on the board, you are included in the role and because the three of us were put together before, we know our role. It’s all about what you have to do, no planning between deliveries, no conversation, so we were all quite surprised by what happened in the last half hour or the last forty minutes.
After such an appearance, you must become a hot-shot commentator in the world?
I hope I have opened a few more doors and some of the latest work around the world. I hope I can call something like that again. I’m 63. I hope I have some good cricket games and some good comments left in me. That’s the sad thing about cricket, what’s happening right now. Hopefully, the IPL will be there and there will be opportunities for players, commentators, fans. The faster the better for me.
Then why didn’t you make a comment on IPL? Don’t you think the excitement in IPL can challenge your chatting talents?
I would love to be at the IPL, but it might not be this year, because I got a few rugby matches. But in the future I want to comment on the IPL competition. So, if there is an opportunity and if there are vacancies, I want to come.
What principles do you follow when making comments?
Comments are not competition, it’s a combination, you work together, you don’t try and beat each other. You respect the knowledge of the people sitting next to you, you value their strength. This is my philosophy. Also, I’m from New Zealand, but continue to the situation of comments with an open mind about who will win and who will lose. That is my philosophy.
Finally, you have talked about that moment but how do you look back to the finals and the World Cup? Is New Zealand emerging as a new player of world cricket?
Come to think of it, it was a very strange way to decide on the World Cup final. I don’t think one of the captains goes to the team in the morning and says, ‘look it’s the World Cup, but let’s make sure we have a lot of crawling because maybe it will be determined at Super Over and a team with (more) fours might win.’ So, I thought that was strange. And yes, I don’t think we’re choking on God. We compete until the end. You will not hear that from me now.