New Zealand’s cricket team returned to their country after becoming the world’s first test champion, defeating India in the final of the tournament on June 23.
The Kiwis secured a dominant eight-goal win against Virat Kohlimen in Southampton, winning their only second ICC title after the KnockOut Trophy in 2000.
New Zealand’s left-handed prime minister, Neil Wagner, who played a key role with his constant short deliveries to harass Indian batsmen, has now spoken of the reception the team received when it reached the country.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been in customs and been greeted the way we did,” Wagner told ESPNCricinfo.
“Everyone was like right away: ‘Congratulations! “Pretty happy, [they] he grabbed our passports and all they wanted to ask was, “Where’s the mace?” Where is the mace? Apparently, when they saw him, the smiles on their faces and what he brought them somehow hit home quite hard on what it meant to the people at home and apparently crossed the border, winning the Test Championship final and bringing that trophy back like that. “
Wagner said that due to the COVID protocols, the test mace could not be handed over to security personnel, but they took pictures with it from a distance.
“Seeing even cops stopping and wanting to take a picture from a distance with her. Like I said, it’s a shame it’s Covid times and you can’t hug around these guys and pose for a picture and you know, obviously, give something back to them, but it was nice to see the smile on everyone’s faces and how jubilant they were to receive us and get on the bus.
There were cameras outside and people were waving and yes, obviously we were just very happy with what we managed to achieve. I think it definitely hit the boys hard, what that means for everyone around them, “Wagner said.