New Zealand pacer Neil Wagner, who didn’t allow Indian players to play at front foot in the final of the World Test Championship has narrated an amazing story including airport officials after landing on the home soil on Saturday.
Kane Williamson and co. received heroes’ welcome on their return from Southampton after beating India by 8 wickets in the historic final at the Rose Bowl.
After the victory, most members of the WTC final squad boarded the flight back home, keeping aside a few who stayed back in England for upcoming The Hundred tournament. Meanwhile, Wagner revealed how custom officials and police officers grabbed their passports and started enquiring about the WTC mace as soon as they landed.
“I don’t think I’ve ever walked into customs and got greeted the way we did. Everyone was just straight away [saying] congratulations, pretty happy, grabbed our passports and all they wanted to ask was, Where’s the mace, where’s the mace? Seeing even police officers stopping wanting to have a photo from a distance with it… it was nice to see the smiles on everyone’s faces,” stuff.co.nz quoted Wagner as saying.
“It’s still hard to put into words, to be fair. It still feels unreal. Everything is socially distanced, so you can’t even really shake their hands, and we had the mace, everyone wanted to take a photo, you can’t even do that, or we couldn’t pass it on. It’s a bit of a shame but it’s part of the world we live in at the moment.
“It was quite nice to see some Kiwis walk past and see what it means to them, albeit in the distance waving away, and saying congratulations, it means a lot to all the boys,” Neil Wagner was quoted as saying by stuff.co.nz.
The left-arm fast bowler also added that the New Zealand players handed over the mace to wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling for two weeks. Notably, Watling retired from international cricket after playing the WTC final.
“We shared the mace around on the plane and throughout the whole night while celebrating, everybody had their turn to carry it around and make full use of that. And then on the plane, Ross Taylor got me to hand over the mace to BJ Watling, he’s going to take care of it for the next two weeks in isolation.
“I think it’s a fitting way for him to send his career off, it’s been an amazing career for us, the role he’s played for a number of years now, just the whole person he is and heart and soul of the team. He epitomises everything we are about as a team, the team-first attitude, being a guy that scraps and fights for everything, he’s led that all the way from the start. He’ll be sorely missed in this team,” he added.