When Daryll Mitchell of New Zealand struck the winning runs in the semi-final against England in 2021 World T20, all the Kiwi players erupted in joy, except for all-rounder James Neesham, who played a crucial 11-ball 27-run knock in the thriller. Neesham was seated glued to his seat, with his arms folded, and staring at a blank spot.
This has been the feature of Neesham’s way of being the expressionless cricketer whenever his team posts a win. He has done similar stuff during his IPL team Punjab Kings’ last-ball win over RCB in IPL 2021.
Neesham has given various reasons for it, the recent being that
“You don’t come halfway around the world just to win a semi-final.”
While Neesham would have his reasons, there are a few other cricketers who remain as expressionless or one-face expression as Neesham, whether it is a win or a loss.
Cricwizz takes a look.
If you compare the expression of MS Dhoni’s post-IPL 2021 final win and IPL 2019 final loss by just a run, there is not much difference. He takes to defeat and victory with the same pinch of salt, taking a loss in its stride, and not going overboard with victories. Also, experience has taught him that winning and losing are part of a game. It’s a break from the days when a young Dhoni celebrated wildly when he led India to victory in the 2007 World T20 final.
But over the years, he became ‘Captain Cool’, taking everything from thrilling wins to heartbreaking losses with just the same expression all the time.
The former Australian skipper was another player who rarely showed emotion, and treated losses and wins in equal measure. In 1999, he led Australia to World Cup glory, and just had a smile on his face, without for once going overboard. He treated loss in the same fashion.
Waugh led Australia in the famous 1-2 Test series loss against India in 2001, but he rarely showed his disappointment in the face of suffering a series defeat from the jaws of victory. He again had that smile on his face – hiding the heartbreaking series loss. Even when he was unceremoniously dropped as ODI captain, media had a smiling Waugh’s face splashed across its sports pages.
A captain who could lend a smile after being robbed of a trophy because of a bizarre rule truly deserves a place on this list. It is none other than Kane Williamson, the New Zealand skipper, who was denied to hold aloft the 2019 World Cup trophy just because they had scored fewer boundaries after both the 50-overs game and the super over were tied.
Later in 2021, when Williamson led New Zealand to the World Test Championship title, he didn’t go overboard and had the same smile back on his face. Treating adversity and success with equal measure – that is Williamson's style. And it was again recently seen after New Zealand's final loss to Australia in the 2021 World T20 final.
Cover image: James Neesham - ICC Facebook page