Black Caps aim to purge Lord’s pain in world Test final


Wellington, Feb 3  : The Black Caps won’t let past agonies at England’s famed Lord’s cricket ground hamper their quest to win the inaugural World Test Championship final later this year, coach Gary Stead said Wednesday.

New Zealand earned a place in the decider — to be held at Lord’s from June 18 — after Australia withdrew from a Test tour to South Africa this week due to Covid-19 fears.

The London venue was the scene of the Black Caps’ cruellest defeat, the one-day World Cup final against England in 2019.

With scores tied after a nail-biting Super Over, an obscure tie-break rule — which has since been scrapped — meant the hosts were awarded the trophy because they had scored more boundaries than the Black Caps.

New Zealand have also managed only four wins from 23 completed matches at the ground in all formats, with only a single Test victory.

Stead insisted history would not weigh on his players as they seek to become the first Test team to be crowned world champions under the new International Cricket Council format.

“What’s happened back in 2019 has been and gone. We can’t change it, we can’t do anything about it,” Stead told reporters.

“Now it’s about us moving to what’s in front of us. I think our guys are professional enough and skilful enough that they’ll be able to do that.”

While denying 2019 was on the Black Caps’ minds, Stead did admit to having a peek at the rule book to see what would happen if the World Test Championship final was tied.

“There’s definitely no Super Over,” he said.

“If the match is a draw or a tie there are joint winners.”

New Zealand’s opponent in the final has not been decided, with India, Australia and England all possibilities under the ICC’s complex qualification criteria.

Stead refused to nominate a preferred opponent, saying they were all great Test-playing nations.

“I just think it’s magnificent we get the opportunity to play one of them,” he said.

New Zealand currently top the Test rankings but Stead said his veteran players remembered when they tumbled to eighth in the world after a humbling loss to South Africa in 2018, after being all out in the first innings for just 45.

He said winning the Test championship would be a fitting testament to their improvement.

“They’ve seen some dark days but turned that around,” he said.

“(It) would rank up there with some of the best achievements of their career.”