World Cup 2015: New Zealand March 26, 2015

Henry's journey from backyard dreams to the MCG

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Matt Henry pinching himself to reality

Matt Henry's chat with the media on the banks of the Yarra River on Thursday was briefly interrupted by a shout of "Go Black Caps" from a passer-by. "Thanks," replied Henry in the midst of his answer.

It has been a whirlwind few days for Henry, who went from the Plunket Shield to a World Cup semi-final after the injury to Adam Milne. He received the phone call from Mike Hesson while at a cousin's engagement party and 48 hours later, was bowling first change against South Africa.

Now, the day after arriving in Melbourne, he was talking about the prospect of a final in front of more than 80,000 at the MCG. A few days ago, the only member of the Henry family set to be at the match was his brother, who he used to play mock World Cup finals with in the backyard. Now it's a family affair, with Matt taking centre stage.

"My brother got tickets weeks ago," he said. "He and his mates were booked up and ready to come over anyway. It's one of those things that's a bit crazy. Maybe he knew something I didn't.

"When you are younger, you pretend to be your heroes. I remember playing backyard cricket with my brother and you are playing all the scenarios like a World Cup final and then you are out there."

Henry was sat with his pads on during the closing stages of the epic run chase against South Africa at Eden Park. He had earlier run in from the Southern End, producing an opening spell of 5-2-9-0 during which he touched 145kph.

"To go from a Plunket Shield game to everyone screaming your name was a bit of a contrast," Henry said. "Incredible times. It helps with the whole country behind you, so I managed to get to the crease a bit quicker. The fact it came out quickly was nice."

Henry's opening spell showed the value of him having played regular cricket, which was one of the reasons he was preferred over original squad selections Mitchell McClenaghan and Kyle Mills. But even though he had been outside of the fifteen until the day before the semi-final, he had not been out of the loop on team plans.

"I've been included on all the emails with Shane Bond about our scouting," he said. "So there has not been much cramming. I've been watching all the games, it was fantastic to see the brand of cricket the guys have been playing. I've been in contact with the guys. It's a very tight unit. There are other players who missed out as well but are still part of it."

Henry, along with Jimmy Neesham, were the two players considered most unlucky not to make the original World Cup squad. Henry, especially, had impressed on the pre-Christmas series against Pakistan in the UAE when he took 13 wickets in four matches, including 5 for 30 in the series-clinching victory in Abu Dhabi.

"It's one of those things, we have a very strong squad and someone had to miss out. That was me," he said. "You want to be a part of it, like Brendon keeps saying it's the best time of our lives. It's great to be part of it now."

First, though, he expected a slightly different role on Thursday afternoon. "I've got my girlfriend coming, so I've probably got a bit of shopping to do." Then it's back to the serious business.

Andrew McGlashan is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo