ICC World Cup 2015 Semi Final – New Zealand v South Africa: Sport as Art as Tool

South Africa 281/5 (43 overs of 43 overs) (F du Plessis 82 (107), AB de Villiers 65* (45))
defeated by
New Zealand 299/6 (42.5 of 43 overs) (GD Elliott 84* (73), BB McCullum 59 (26), CJ Anderson 58 (57))


Last night I wrote a story prompted by the eve of World Cup semi-finals. Somehow I struck upon this quote from School of Life as the opening:
There is widespread agreement that art is very important. But it can be remarkably hard to say quite why, or what it is for…  
“Art is a tool which should help us to cope with a variety of cognitive frailties: it should help us to understand ourselves, empathise with others, guide us to morality, console us for our sorrows and function as an agent of hope.
– The Book of Life
This game now, finishing tonight in Auckland, would fall into this definition of art. We have just seen sport as art. A monstrous run chase achieved on the penultimate ball of 43 overs. With a 6.
The details and match facts I’d best leave to others for now. For they are beyond me. As part of the artwork, they are important, vital even, but instead I’m appreciating the big picture.




Aware of the match, but with other priorities, I tune in late via www. South Africa had won the toss (ominous?) and batted. They are safely away as I harvest sprigs of rosemary from the front yard and set the leg of lamb at 180 degrees.


Soon enough I find ABC Grandstand radio coverage via the ABC website and have that wirelessly playing through a new speaker set (Bluetooth enabled). Half way through mopping the floors (truly), the www drops out, and our laptop sulks for the next few hours.


Never mind. Off to collect the billy lids from school with bonus extras including being shown a rotating model of the solar system, being shown a new flip on the parallel bars, and dodging the showery drizzle. We are home.


The laptop is still uncooperative as I peel the spuds, par-boiling, and deal with the infernal pumpkin. Chopping pumpkin tests me. Today I win. With the laptop out of action, I check the www via iPhone to learn that rain has thwarted a South African rampage.


Concentrating again where I should, Buddy Oon is off over the road for a piano lesson while I reciprocally mind a couple of extra youngsters (6 and 3 years old). The trampoline is damp, but not prohibitively so.


Spuds and pumpkin in the oven, a sneaky peak at the phone, and I clock that the chase is going to be a big one. Duckworth-Lewis is invoked. A total is “arrived at.” There’s a lesson in acceptance.


Buddy Oon is back to us, extra children are returned home, and we have a lamb roast for dinner. Could I? Would I? Yes, I turn on the TV to play while we eat. This is a solemn rarity at our place.

“How come you get to choose this Dad, but we can’t choose?”


The buds have never shown as much interest in (limited overs) cricket. BB McCullum is out. But NZ are off to a flyer. 70 in five overs or something. Ridiculous. And yet, not. Time and again, New Zealand players behave in ways that indicate something special. They have belief. They are free. They dare greatly.

A lot of this must be (and is) attributed to leadership of BB McCullum. His batting, his field placements, bowling changes, demeanour in all situations, is fast becoming the stuff of legend.


And so we watch the chase.

We finish the tea, N.Cunninghammi arrives home, and we keep watching.

For a 20 minutes or so.

It’s great.

Buds most intrigued by the ads.


But I run the bath, shepherd through some nightly rostered jobs, and supervise the construction of a countdown calendar (“How many sleeps until Buddy Yum is 8?”)


By now, it’s tightening and I’m becoming flighty.

This looms as a good one to watch.


I log on via the phone to post:

Almanac post

At 8pm, with 10 overs left, I depart the TV for a nightly read to the Buds.


…It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things…

A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Second, The Reptile Room. Lemony Snicket


Emerging from the darkness, this game is alive. Ho, ho.

Twitter is alive.

What a finish.

Tweet NZvSA

Tweet NZvSA

Tweet NZvSA Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 11.14.25 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.59.26 PM

Tweet NZvSA


Tweet NZvSA

Tweet NZvSA

Tweet NZvSA

D Steyn, G Elliott, sport, art

D Steyn, G Elliott, sport, art, (from @plalor, Twitter)

Tweet NZvSA


If art “is a tool which should help us to cope with a variety of cognitive frailties: it should help us to understand ourselves, empathise with others, guide us to morality, console us for our sorrows and function as an agent of hope;” then

this World Cup semi-final was art.

Well played those men.

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About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Outstanding game of cricket. Outstanding sport. And sportsmanship. The Kiwis are a mighty side to achieve that target. They will be hard to stop.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Fantastic game where each ball seemed to be a key moment , brilliant chase by the sheep shaggers ( aided by customary stuff ups in a semi final by the proteas )
    Thanks OBP

  3. Thanks Dips, OBP.
    Of course, it’s only a game.
    But seeing how people respond to pressure situations is interesting, isn’t it?

    Sweeping generalisations are written (e.g. NZers are brave, SAfricans are chokers) and behaviours of individuals and teams start to be viewed with those as a starting point.
    It all becomes self-fulfilling.
    Individual and group behaviour.
    Execution of skills.
    Mental application.
    It’s an intriguing stew sitting on the stove there, simmering away.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Dave, I was totally drawn into this game, didn’t want to miss a second of the action, or the Tweets between overs. What a great advertisement for the game for your kids.

    I was very dubious when B.McCullum was appointed skipper. Surely not even his biggest fan could have envisinged what he’d become. Well done him.

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