T20 World Cup: James Neesham banishes the ghosts of 2019 ODI World Cup final | Cricket News
Long after the Kiwis had exchanged sweaty hugs with their T20 World Cup semifinal hero vs England, Daryl Mitchell, and the players had gone inside the Zayed Stadium dressing room to freshen up, allrounder James Neesham, who started the jailbreak with his 11-ball 27, sat on the chair near the boundary and stared into empty space.
Maybe it was a sign of part closure for him. Remember, he was sent in as Martin Gutpill‘s partner in that dramatic Super Over at Lord’s in the World Cup final against England.
Up against a target of 16 and a speedy and crafty Jofra Archer, Neesham’s substantial contribution was 2, 6, 2, 2, 1 after the first ball was a wide. That six was a muscular biff over mid-wicket, just like he essayed a couple of times on Wednesday night against Chris Jordan. But with three needed off two, Neesham took a single and then ran a non-existent two from the non-striker’s end to watch the agony unfold.
His plea to the kids to “die fat and happy” and not take up sport but “baking” was an indication of his heartache.
Kids, don’t take up sport. Take up baking or something. Die at 60 really fat and happy.
— Jimmy Neesham (@JimmyNeesh) 1563150544000
Yes, it came from the same Neesham, the prankster, the guy who elicits a laugh-a-minute response through his social media memes and random replies to fans and cricketers.
Check out his response to Mayank Agarwal, his former IPL teammate at Punjab Kings during the England tour of India in March. Agarwal had tweeted an image of him working out with his face showing the effort. Neesham’s hilarious response on Agarwal’s wall was, “Congratulations. Boy or girl?”
It’s difficult to think that the same fun-loving Neesham, who smashed 137 at the Basin Reserve on Test debut vs. India in 2014, soon went through a phase where he often opened the window of his hotel room and hoped that it would rain, so that he need not have to wear his kit as he contemplated quitting the game. He sought therapy for his mental ailments before coming back.
On Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, he had a chance to show all the franchises in the IPL who he has been part of (Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals), Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab (now, Punjab Kings) but who have played him sparingly, what he was capable of.
Man-of-the-match Mitchell was the first to acknowledge his efforts. “I thought the way that Neesh came out and really dominated that one over really set the momentum heading into those last few, so yeah; take my cap off to him. He played a hell of a knock.”
Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson, who Neesham trolls often on social media, like he did after the game against South Africa at Edgbaston in the 2019 World Cup for not bowling him, tweeting a picture of the centurion and man-of-the-match Williamson with his hands on the head, with a cheeky, “When you realise, you totally forgot to bowl Neesh,” was also magnanimous in praise of the burly Auckland all-rounder. “Neesham came out and hit the ball hard, and changed the momentum of the game. Ultimately the deciding factor,” the skipper said.
Rival captain Eoin Morgan, who blundered with his tactics by bowling Chris Woakes at the death despite the Warwickshire pacer going over 19 in between overs 16 and 20 throughout the tournament, was also fulsome in his praise of Neesham. “To have the ability to hit sixes from ball one like Neesham, full credit to him.”
Neesham may be the toast of Kiwis and the team’s supporters. But he knows the job’s not done, yet. There’s a final to be played on Sunday.
That is exactly what his response was when a cricket portal through its social media handle pointed out that he didn’t move while the rest of the dugout was delirious after the winning runs.
“Job finished? I don’t think so,” he replied.