AUCKLAND: Grant Elliott’s towering six which propelled New Zealand into their first cricket World Cup final was still generating media buzz on Wednesday.
The 36-year-old dispatched Dale Steyn’s delivery over deep midwicket to take New Zealand to 299 for six on Tuesday, giving them a tense four-wicket victory over South Africa in the first semi-final at Eden Park.
It ended a run of six defeats in semi-finals for New Zealand, who will play either Australia or India in Sunday’s final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Reigning champions India meet four-times winners Australia in the second semi in Sydney on Thursday.
New Zealand’s victory dominated local media coverage on Wednesday with television, radio and newspapers devoting significant air time and pages to the match, with Elliott’s consolation of a devastated Steyn creating social media buzz.
Former Sri Lanka batsman Russel Arnold tweeted the picture of Elliott shaking hands with Steyn as the South African lay on his back, labelling it ‘the spirit of sport’ and asking whether it could be the defining moment of the tournament.
Other former players and cricket organisations compared the gesture to that of England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff consoling Australia fast bowler Brett Lee during the 2005 Ashes series.
Elliott himself said after the match that he felt it was important he showed Steyn some compassion, reasoning that he could have been the one sitting there and going through the same emotions if he had failed to score the required runs.
“I think you have to feel compassion and be humble in victory and humble in defeat. It’s just part of who I am,” he said.
“I felt sorry for him and I felt sorry for a lot of them.”
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key took a moment during a media conference in Tokyo to congratulate the team and said he would attend the final on Sunday.
Airlines have also announced additional flights to get New Zealand fans to Melbourne for Sunday’s final, while the match will be screened on free-to-air television.
The tournament has primarily been broadcast on subscription-based television.