Stumbled across this absolute gem of an article from Andrew Anderson today.
Sure, it’s a bit of a whinge. Especially, the criticism of the forward lean before delivery, and hundred celebrations (mainly because I score so few that I tend to lose the plot as well). But he hits the absolute nail on the proverbial head with the rest…Number 10 for example:
11. Channel Nine flogging sports memorabilia
Does anyone actually buy this stuff? How memorable is it to have the latest framed offering of the six Australian test triple centurions (A$595 plus $45 delivery) on your wall in the pool room? There are 329 available in relation to the number of runs Michael Clarke scored at the SCG and – as a bonus – his genuine signature is also present. If it was the bat he used or the ball he stroked so regularly to the fence, it might hold more significance – but a framed wall hanging as an investment? C’mon.
To me however he’s missed the most crass of the lot. Days after his blisteringly lucky 180 in Perth, the sycophants on Channel Nine were already peddling some “Powerhouse” framed piece of complete crap celebrating the brilliant, incredible, ground-breaking SIX TEST career of David Warner.
What complete BS, and a testament to how much of a sycophantic, commercial mockery of a commentary team that the Channel Nine lads have transformed into.
Yesterday was my first preseason football game, so I was a weary, sore and sunburnt soul when I reached for the iPhone late on Saturday afternoon to check the progress in Napier. 135/7 stared back at me. Good going, but slow progress were my first thoughts…until I read those two magical words “second innings”. What. The. Fuck.
Zimbabwe’s first tentative steps back into the test cricketing arena had been uncertain, and by no means blockbusting. But they should slipped past us in Bulawayo, and there certainly had been nothing to hint at what was about to unfold on the State Highway that is McLean Park.
Woeful. Embarrassing. Inept. Sadistic. All words that spring to mind when trying to describe the slaughter I have just witnessed.
Zimbabwe’s biggest test loss. New Zealand’s biggest test win. Chris Martin’s best test figures. Our first test win at McLean Park. BJ Watling’s first test century. A statistician’s wet dream to be sure.
However, if you scratch a little deeper and you’ll find a test bowling line up still very short on a decent blowout. Likewise, most decent club attacks could have provided a better for our top order than Zimbabwe’s medium pace trundlers did. Furthermore, the best of the lot, Captain Fantastic Rossco, is staring down the barrel at four weeks on the couch instead of being out in the middle tearing apart more challenging attacks in the Plunket Shield.
Still, BJ performed admirably with the gloves, and rode his luck for one of the better looking hundreds I’ve seen in recent times. Likewise Martin/Boult/Southee and Bracewell hunted like a rabid pack of dogs, feasting on ripe Zimbabwean flesh.
Actually I’m struggling to remember a more potent and balanced Black Caps’ bowling line-up. You may scoff, but Bond, Hadlee and Cairns were, for the better part of their careers, swinging it solo. Maybe Bond, Cairns, Nash and Vettori in Australia in 2001/02. The best part of it all is that, barring injury and with the exception of the Phantom, this lineup will be together for at least another 5 years.
Still, this was no decent preparation for the impending arrival of the South Africans, who, after England’s capitulation in Dubai are arguably the best cricketing side in the world. They will be the true test for how far this Black Caps side has come, and where the optimistic fan dreams they could go.
Today’s announcement of the test squad to play Zimbabwe in Napier next week was, in a warm and comforting way, one of few surprises. The optimist sees a side in form, a winning unit filled with heart. The pessimist sees a lack of depth, a side lacking a decent opening partnership, a test number 3, and any idea on how to play B-Mac.
Bu f— it, t my glass is always half-full.
The one talking point was the selection of both BJ Watling and Kruger Van Wyk at the expense of Reece’s pieces. Poor Reece, he bleed for his country, and I still think he’s the best glovesman we have. But cricket has changed, and you can’t hide a man so woefully out his depth at the crease – just ask Chris Read. My thoughts on the two triallists…
I used to play school cricket against the man with the worst two first initials in NZ Cricket. Born in Durban, he came out here as 10 year old and was always somewhat of a schoolboy prodigy as a wicket keeper batsman. But ND had one of the many forgotten men of NZ Cricket, Pete McGlashan, behind the pins, and his wicket keeping faded like a sunset over Seddon Park.
I’ve always said we picked him in the wrong format first, as he was averaging over 40 in domestic one-day cricket and less than 30 in First Class when we shoved him in against the Pakis in Napier. Sure enough, a series of failures seemed set to see him fade like Jamie How into the night…until B-mac decided he didn’t much like this keeping lark.
Ironically when B-Mac was first picked as New Zealand’s test wicketkeeper he wasn’t carrying the gloves at first class level either. Provided his glovework is up to scratch (god pray tell he’s not another Dropkins), he adds balance to the batting lineup at 6 or 7, and at 26 he’s one for the future.
Kruger van Wyk
The latest of a line of South African journeymen to put their hand up with a series of consistent performances at first class level. At 31, he’s a stop gap, and I imagine the selectors will be hoping the Blow Job can step up. But he averages close to 40, and, as I’ve seen live, he’s fucking sharp behind the stumps.
He also could quite possibly be the smallest man to ever don the Black Cap (someone find me Michael Papps’ measurements). Mind you, being in a side with Michael Mason and Jacob Oram certainly doesn’t help that perception.
Both pint-sized SAffers are on display next week over Wellington Anniversary weekend for the “New Zealand XI” against the Zimbo’s in Gizzy. Whilst Kruger is set to open the batting and the Blow Job is set to carry the gloves, I imagine they’ll both get some time on their haunches.
BJ’s my pick if he can get his shit together. But bugger me, why can’t B-Mac just bite the bullet?
Merry christmas and happy new year to all. Unfortunately posting has obviously been light over the christmas break. This has largely been due to the antiquated and positively third world nature of broadband in Te Puke (my spiritual and metaphysical home town). That and the lack of truly competitive test cricket – India I’m looking at you.
One conversation I had a lot over the break was about the value of Twenty20 to the modern game. Now my loyal readers, of which I doubt there are any (not even my Mum), will know that I’m not a fan of this pagan pursuit. This is a soapbox upon which I still proudly stand. However, this will not stop me espousing incoherent and rambling opinions from time to time on its virtues. After all, hypocrite thy name is David.
One cannot dispute a number of things. Hit and Giggle is popular. The aptly Australian “Big Bash League” is a prime example. Grounds, with the exception of the Pantheon that is the MCG, have been packed with the great unwashed. Far more so then the damp squib a test series between Australia and India. Even in New Zealand, when the sun chooses to poke its head out, grounds have been healthily populated to watch the HRV Cup. It is fast food cricket, but it is bringing in a new type of fan. Whilst filling money in the coffers may distort a governing body’s priorities, it will still have flow on effects for other areas of the game.
A class player will still stand out like dogs balls. And don’t think for a second I’m talking about B-Mac here. Gayle, Gibbs, Guptill, Vettori, and Warne are all examples of players who look a cut above, even in the shortest format. For all those who lament the proliferation of the cow-corner slog-sweep, or flat unimaginative bowling, these players have all shown that there is still a place for a technique, some loop, and a bit of guile in the modern T20 game.
It is a leveller. The gulf between sides, so evident in the longer formats, is naturally less so in T20. Especially at international level. However, we must be careful not to champion this too much beyond the international sphere. One need only look at the Champions League to see what the football-esque player market created by the IPL and T20 generally is doing to the competitiveness of international franchise competitions.
Furthermore, in the purest format, the proliferation of T20 mercenaries such as Gayle, Bravo, and B-Mac et al could in future years lead to the disintegration of competitive test cricket (and maybe even international T20) for test cricketing nations with a dearth of depth. Thankfully, at this stage this seems to be limited to the toxic, divided, and ego-driven environment that is inherent in West Indies cricket.
In addition, call me old fashioned, but I just cannot bring myself to get passionate. I struggle to understand how any franchise can command a passionate fan-following. Even as a success-starved Black Caps fan, a T20 win feels empty and unsatisfying. And the same goes for watching my local franchise sweep to victory on the back of a match winning knock from some international mercenary who won’t be around in a few weeks or, worse still, will be playing for someone with a bigger cheque book.
With vast arenas turned into postage stamps by rope-wielding, boundary-crazed bureaucrats the value of a well struck shot has been cheapened and, in the case of the IPL especially, sold to the highest bidder. The advent of “DLF maximums” and “Citi Moments of Success” in addition to past-it elderly cricketing mercenaries making unwarranted comebacks (Stuart Macgill WTF?!) has demonstrated the increasing commercialization that T20 sown like a STI through my beautiful game. However, watching a Jenny Craig-sponsored side compete in a KFC-sponsored tournament does introduce the odd ironic laugh.
However, one cannot escape the feeling that this is simply cricketing darwinism. One must adapt in order to survive.
But it sure as hell doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it.
Kerry O’Keefe on Philip Hughes:
If P Hughes is shaving tomorrow and gets a nick, M Guptill will appear from the medicine cabinet with a band-aid.
There was anguish. There was elation. There were tears. And finally there was that delicious, oh-so-rare, enveloping warmth that only a test victory can bring. And such a quintessentially New Zealand one at that.
For me, our Tasmanian opus was a serious of contrasting emotions. The pain and disappointment of turning on the television in Port Campbell to see 6 for 98; the shock on the Apollo Bay motel manager’s face as I danced around her reception area upon discovering that we’d rolled ‘em for 136; the frustrated tolerance of all those who had to be around me all weekend; the depression of an almost inevitable batting collapse and 72 for 0; the suppressed optimism brought by 3 wickets for no runs; the nerves as Lyon and Warner threatened to do the unthinkable; and finally, the unbridled screams of joy as Bracewell ripped through the defences of Nathan Lyon like a Rathkeale boarder.
There could not have been a better moment to be a kiwi in Australia.
But it will not only be the emotions that will remained etched in my cricketing consciousness for ever. There will be Ian Smith’s calm and confident balance to the Channel 9 partisan hyperbole. There will be David Warner’s obsequious Man of the Match award, and Michael Clarke’s “slap in the face” of a post match speech. There will be Ross Taylor, a Ruben Wiki in cricket whites when a mike is in front of his face. And finally there will be the super-slow-motion replay of Ryder, Guptill and Taylor at the moment of victory.
A 26 year old monkey dispelled, and faith restored. Well done boys.
Either the Australian selectors are a little wary of our all-conquering top order…yeah…or they’re trying to give their “greenhorn” seam attack all the bloody help they can get. The bowling green at the ‘Gabba last week and this Tasmanian Devil would have to be two of the greenest home wickets seen in Australia since…the 70′s? Crazy stuff. English fans would say the MCG pitch on Boxing Day last year needed a decent mow, but that thing was flat as a pancake by the end of day one!
I guess it’s another testament to the amount of power our fair country wields in the fair game today, because you can guarantee (and I would lay money on it) that come Boxing Day when the “might” of India are touring that the MCG will strangely resemble State Highway One.
Anyway, I’m off to Melbourne for the next four days so won’t be covering the second test in too much depth. That is not to say I won’t be following every ball…
My picks? Brendan McCullum for a career-saving hundred, Southee to get ten wickets, New Zealand to win by nine wickets, and the Dom Post to magically find a new source of natural light emanating from Ross Taylor’s backside by Monday…