Cricket is a team game, however, it is also a sport where an individual can impact the outcome of the match result. The game has a tradition of awarding the best performer of that particular match with 'Man of the Match' award. But on April 3, 1996, exactly 23 years ago, the whole New Zealand team was awarded the Man of the Match, which is now considered as a unique incident in the history of cricket.
It was the five-match ODI series between New Zealand and the Windies in the Caribbean shores and the visitors were trailing by 2-1 going into the fourth game. They needed to win the match to keep the series alive and the New Zealand team had to put up a collective effort to defend a small total.
After being put in to bat first, they were skittled for a mere 158 runs. Craig Spearman was the highest run-scorer for them with 41 runs to his name and apart from him, only three other batsmen crossed the double-figure mark. Many felt that the series was done and dusted for New Zealand but they had the runs on the board and the belief to defend it.
Knowing that they will have to win the match to keep the series alive, New Zealand struck early in the innings and kept on picking wickets at the regular intervals. The famous batting line-up of the Windies was kept in check time and again. NZ team managed to take the game deep and they bundled out the opposition for 154 in the final over of the innings.
At one stage, the Windies were sitting pretty at 104/4 needing only 55 runs with six wickets in hand. But then their lower middle-order collapsed and were reduced to 120/8. The tail threatened for a bit but the visiting bowlers were always ahead of the game as they managed to snatch the game from the jaws of victory successfully.
Not that a certain bowler took a five-wicket haul for them. Actually, a total of six bowlers were used by the skipper Lee Germon and all of them contributed with wickets. Interestingly, all of them were extremely economical and bowled well in partnerships to stay alive in the series.
The teamwork, not so with the bat, but with the ball had forced the adjudicator to pick the whole team as the Man of the Match on the day and it was the first instance in Cricket.