If you have ever wondered whether it is possible to be frustrated by and yet satisfied with the same thing then, in my case, the answer is yes.
You might think the two emotions are contradictory but I reckon they sum up New Zealand’s quest for ICC Cricket World Cup glory perfectly, especially in my time as a player.
On the one hand there is the frustration of reaching semi-finals in 1999 and 2007 and yet never breaking through that glass ceiling to the final, or even going on to win the tournament.
But on the other hand is the knowledge we lost on each occasion to more skillful sides – in my case against Pakistan in 1999 and then Sri Lanka eight years later. And that, for a country where cricket is not the number-one sport and which, in terms of resources – both playing and financial – is well down the pecking order says we have punched well and truly above our weight.
That consistency of performance has actually been true of the Black Caps throughout ICC Cricket World Cup history as a record of six semi-finals shows, and it is something to be proud of.
However, it has also led me to wonder why it is we have not been able to go that extra mile and get into the final head-to-head contest for cricket’s greatest prize.
That is not to say we felt we had run our race as we still had the dream of greater glory. But I suspect the teams we came up against thought slightly differently, that the semi-final was just one more game towards the ultimate goal of lifting the Cup.
We tended to be more game-to-game in our approach and I think, in our heart of hearts, we hoped rather than expected to do well in those semi-finals.
Of course, that could have led to a more relaxed, pressure-off approach but still, I think there was the knowledge we were in an ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final and that created pressure, both individual and collective, all of its own.
As for the semi-finals themselves, it is possible now to be quite dispassionate about them and see very clearly where things went wrong. In 1999, against Pakistan at Old Trafford, we did not get enough runs against an outstanding bowling attack including Wasim Akram, Saqlain Mushtaq and Shoaib Akhtar. Four players, myself included, passed 30, but no-one reached 50. It left us needing early wickets in reply to try and rattle them but the ball did not swing for Geoff Allott, the tournament’s leading wicket-taker alongside Shane Warne, and Saeed Anwar and Wajahatullah Wasti added 194 for the first wicket to stamp all over us.
Eight years later, in what turned out to be my final One-Day International, we found ourselves on a pitch in Jamaica that felt more sub-continental than Caribbean, and with too many of us having off-days against a more skillful side in Sri Lanka, we were outplayed. It was frustrating but we could have no complaints.
Perhaps oddly, the tournament I feel most frustrated and a little bit empty about is 2003, in Southern Africa, when we did not make it to the last four.
It contained the best moment, personally, in my ICC Cricket World Cup career, as I scored an unbeaten 134 against South Africa in Johannesburg, including greats of the game in Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini and Jacques Kallis. It is a memory I will always treasure.
But thinking of that innings also reminds me that with the squad of players we had, including Shane Bond at his best, Chris Cairns, Daniel Vettori, Nathan Astle and youngsters like Jacob Oram and Brendon McCullum. We could have, and probably should have, gone further than the Super Sixes.
Instead, we folded against Australia on a poor pitch, wasting a brilliant six-wicket haul by Bond, did the same against India when a win would have taken us into the semi-finals and also gave up vital points to Kenya by opting not to travel there for security reasons.
I do not blame anyone for that latter situation. Most of the squad had been in Karachi the previous year when a bomb exploded outside our hotel on the morning of a Test match and New Zealand Cricket felt, quite rightly, that if there was any suggestion of a threat then the team would not be put in what had the potential to be harm’s way. But it cost us points and, in the final analysis, cost us that spot in the last four.
Can this crop of Black Caps go one better than any of its predecessors and make it through to the final or even win the tournament this time? I think they can.