OPINION: If we're all honest with ourselves, New Zealand's eventual Twenty20 World Cup record of played five, won one, lost four was about what we'd expect.
A few weeks out from the tournament, there were genuine fears that the Black Caps might not win a game here, such was their wretched form in the West Indies and the thrashing they took in the opening test of their series against India.
But a competitive showing in the final test at Bangalore, followed by their one-run win at Chennai, in the sole Twenty20 international, raised expectations a notch.
They only increased once Bangladesh were dispatched by 59 runs in the opening match of the World Cup when it became clear how true the pitch at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium was and how poor New Zealand's Super Eight opponents were likely to be.
From being considered lucky to win a match, the Black Caps were soon regarded as semifinal certainties. They would have made it , too, had their execution been better in either of the ties against Sri Lanka and the West Indies, which were eventually surrendered in a super over.
That's where you come back to that notion of expectation. When games are there to be won and lost, you assume that the Black Caps will lose them.
Frontrunners, flat-track bullies, call them what you like - there are a few of them in this New Zealand team.
Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill can play. There's no doubt about that. But do they win games for their country? Not often.
Ross Taylor, partly by virtue of playing in the middle order, had opportunities to play match-winning innings against Sri Lanka, England and the West Indies and didn't. He came awfully close in the last of them but couldn't quite finish the job.
Tim Southee produced some brilliant death, and then super over, bowling in the loss to Sri Lanka. Against the West Indies he started with a no ball and also threw in a wide as well.
If he bowls a good ball and Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels send it out of the park, that's fine. But you set yourself a stiff task when you throw in extra runs, balls and free hits too.
Plenty of Black Caps had worse tournaments than McCullum, Guptill, Taylor and Southee but, again, it comes back to expectation. You expect your big players to step up in the big moments and New Zealand's couldn't quite manage it.
The margin between success and failure in Twenty20 is so fine that preparation is critical. The frustration with the Black Caps is that it took them till their final game to settle on their best lineup.
The accepted wisdom is that, under previous coach John Wright, there was a “she'll be right" culture in the team. Now, with Mike Hesson in charge, we're told of the hours spent planning for each player and opponent and how beneficial that's been.
The value of that work hasn't been borne out by the results at this tournament. But that's what we've all come to expect.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Will the Black Caps win the second test at Headlingley?