New Zealand prime minister John Key bats

Key puts Shane Warne in his place in a charity game in 2011

© Getty Images

The Essentials

Make mine a T20

No prizes for guessing the New Zealand prime minister John Key's favourite cricket format

What are your memories of cricket growing up?
I grew up in Christchurch and I remember going to watch the Hadlee brothers play, and heading along to several Test matches at Lancaster Park. I also have great memories of watching Glenn Turner bat and also Lance Cairns hitting six sixes in ten balls against Australia. That was special because it was against the Aussies, and we always like getting one - or in this case six - over them!

Who are your favourite cricketers - past and present?
There are a number because we have had some truly great cricketers over the years, but certainly Richard Hadlee, Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee and Lance Cairns are up there. I've been fortunate enough to meet a number of those great New Zealanders in past years and they are also great people.

Test cricket or T20?
T20 - it's action-packed and in the end it's the best bits of cricket supercharged in a rapid-fire environment. Test cricket can be tremendously exciting but five days out of any prime minister's time is a big ask!

How did you feel after the 2015 World Cup final?
I was disappointed for Brendon and the team that they didn't play as well as they had through the rest of the tournament. But it was always going to be a challenge. That's cricket.

Getting to the final was hugely significant for them and for the future of New Zealand cricket. The inspiring cricket they played left a lasting impression. They showed great sportsmanship, which has been widely acknowledged. They weren't afraid to have a go. And they played as a team. In each game there tended to be one or two heroes, and the strength of the team was their self-belief and the knowledge that the next batter or the next bowler up would be able to carry the side.

Why do you think New Zealand consistently excels in the cricket World Cup?
I think there's been a long history of playing cricket in New Zealand. It's our national summer sport, and if you head along to any park on a Saturday over summer, you'll see hundreds of Kiwis, young and old, out there having a crack. We are fundamentally a good cricketing nation.

It's also the competitiveness of our nature. Per capita, we're doing well at the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, and so many other international sporting events. New Zealanders do tend to do well on the world stage.

As told to Tim Wigmore