How many World Cup finals would New Zealand have to reach before people considered them ‘the team to beat’? We’d guess about forty. This is assuming they didn’t lose each of those finals to the same team because in that situation the team that beat them would obviously be the team to beat.
Maybe we’ve lost ourself in specifics there. Our point is that New Zealand are never favourites, even when they’re debagging opponents in a multitude of ways.
Respect has to be earned, you might argue. But ask the Associate Nations whether the cricket world pays a living wage in that regard. You can put in long, long hours trying to earn respect and then thanks to an act of god (or at least thanks to the cooling of moist air and resultant precipitation) you’ll find yourself pretty much back where you started. In cricket, respect runs through your fingers. You might get a few grains of it stuck to your skin if you’re particularly sweaty, but they’ll soon be gone.
Whatever their ‘brand of cricket’, New Zealand have a much darker, more permanent brand as outsiders in world competitions. Even though they’re winning all their games, you may still hear people refer to them as dark horses. Anyone who says they’re punching above their weight might like to consult the scales.