Who ruled the world?

This post has been has been in my drafts folder for an embarrassingly long period of time. So here goes, this will probably be the world’s last Cricket World Cup roundup published, a record sportreview.net.nz is ‘pretty comfortable’ with.

You don’t need me to tell you the tournament was more feel-good than the kids from Stand By Me taking on Alien and taking the big ugly down. I was working as Digital Manager for New Zealand Cricket during the cup and got to to to the opener in Christchurch, some of the pool play matches and the three knockout matches. Here’s how it went for me:

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Sri Lanka
Christchurch was all nerves. Could we carry on the form from home series when it really counted? Would Malinga come back and mess us up? No, as it turns out. It was comprehensive stuff on a feckin freezing day, in front of a boisterous crowd, who took the ‘best streakers’ trophy at a canter from the outset.

Later in the tournament when the talk was of us not batting first and setting a total, I was thinking of this match, when we did just that – just the casual 330 odd.

Even though this was us v Sri Lanka at Hagley, it felt very different to the previous matches, with the ICC roadshow underway – the coverage was different, as were the advertising hoardings and extremely sponsor heavy entertainment. The big show had arrived.

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The match had been sold out for months, and people turned out in droves for the opening ceremony on a magnificent Thursday summer’s evening. I know it’s easy for me to say, breezing in and out for a few days, but I thought Christchurch was lovely, the gaping holes in the middle of town aside. Everyone I met was very excited about the tournament and what it meant for their city. Marvelous.

Uncharitably, on tournament eve I had the pleasure of watching the Crusaders losing their opener to the Rebels in a suburban bar and watching three quarters of the people walk out on the final whistle, but you’ll remember I am not a very nice person.

England
I wasn’t there, but holy crap. After England’s pretty reasonable start, Tim Southee just broke them and pretty much ended their tournament. Those inswingers that threaten to collect stumps he bowls every match, did. Again and again. Then Brendon McCullum laid down a marker for the rest of the tournament, seemingly intent on re-modelling the Cake Tin with the ball. It was absolute carnage and it was over in a flash, apart from the world’s most awkward tea break. Brilliant.


Serious press pack for the Aussie match.

Australia
This was a Big Week. All the Aussie media you’d been reading for years were suddenly alongside you watching the net sessions. The big guys had come to town, and my god Eden Park was up for it. If you’ve ever been to a rugby match there, imagine that only heaps, heaps louder. Tim, then Dan, then Trent took them down big time, and a new generation of Australian cricketers were warmly welcomed into New Zealand’s comedy villain hall of fame alongside Greg Chappell, Greg Matthews, various Waughs, various Shanes, etc.


Those guys leaning over the barrier did their national duty by giving Mitch Johnson comprehensive verbal arseholes.

Then we batted, and there were a few lows. The first was McCullum getting whacked in the arm, halting his steady dismantling of their attack. The second was when we started losing wickets. The third was when we kept losing wickets. My view in the stand* was directly behind Starc’s arm and I can tell you he was swinging it shitloads, to use the technical term, in the warm-ups, god only knows how he was to face in the match. Anyway, Boult and Williamson’s pep talk when Trent got out there has been well documented and you know how the match ended. Seriously, I could hardly type, my fingers were shaking that much.

No I’m not a major fan of music at the cricket, but between the winning roar and the presentations, they played Boston’s More Than A Feeling, one of my favourite ever songs, as the sky started to turn a deep red out to the west. Haven’t felt a sport-related warm glow like that in a while.

And – this was my partner’s first game of live cricket. Imagine that!

Bangladesh
This was the first time I’d worked at a BLACKCAPS match from Seddon Park in my NZC role, somehow I’d managed to not get just down the road yet. It’s a fantastic venue, still my favourite in New Zealand, the hipster boutique ground who got there before everyone else.


Seddon Park. Lovely.

This match will be remembered for Guptill’s hard-fought ton, Southee smacking the winning runs high onto the bank, those fecking flying death bugs, but probably most of all, Brendon’s hail mary dive into the fence to try and save four. It racked up 300K odd views by the time the match had ended and is still the second most viewed video on the CWC15 site. Just FYI those video screens are covered in little light covers that are actually reasonably sharp, that would have really hurt, team.

The Alternative Commentary Collective‘s call this day was one of their finest, off the back of the killjoy ban from the ground. I forget whether they were on the mushies or the buckies this day, but whatever it was, it worked.

West Indies
The team described this as the toughest match, mentally, one we were expected to win against a fairly unpredictable opposition. We needn’t have worried – Guptill’s 237 is the most destructive thing I’ve seen since Keith Robinson.

It’s funny looking back how on the edge we were, midway through the first innings people were questioning the scoring rate and saying we had to hit out, or we’d miss out. That turned out to be bollocks. Guptill’s innings, and our total, were colossal and despite some West Indian flurries, we did it comfortably. See you in Auckland, then.

There’s some fair competition of moment of the tournament, but Dan’s catch is pretty up there for me. When you think about what he’d done to get himself back, the phenomenal shape he was in that allowed him to leap like that, and land like that, you have to hand it to him. Watch the clip again, see how delighted his team mates are for him.


This is the chap sent up on the stadium roof to retrieve Martin Guptill’s six.

South Africa
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The last time I saw us play South Africa at Eden Park was back in 1992, when Greatbach smacked one onto the old grandstand’s roof. The chaps from that campaign went from one end of the country to the other repeatedly to promote this tournament, but now we were here, it was all about going one better, really. Personally, I was shitting myself we were going to get Pakistan and that I Wouldn’t Be Able To Handle It, but South Africa it was, complete with de Villiers, Amla and Steyn. Ahem.

The match started in one of the weirdest atmospheres I’d experienced. Not only was the packed-in crowd slightly subdued (it’s harder to sledge the South Africans than the Aussies, especially when they were dominating us), and the weather appeared to be hosing down literally everywhere in Auckland but Eden Park, teasing us relentlessly before it finally arrived.

After McCullum’s assault, where he knocked Steyn out of the attack, it settled into the tense run chase to end all run chases. I was watching Twitter and seeing folks talk about their hearts beating fast – mine wasn’t I just felt a bit circumspect. When you’re working during the match you’re kind of concentrating on doing your job, with a little bit of work-wise ‘what if we win / what if we lose’ in the background. Your inner fan kind of gets pushed right down, suppressed deep inside. Well, that inner fan came back at me big time with two overs to go, when the pit of my stomach fell out completely. My hands were shaking and my heart was going like an elephant that’d slipped its chain. I’d never felt anything like it.

The form in a press box is that you don’t celebrate, you’re there to do your bloody job and be neutral. I restricted myself to a few quiet fist pumps as Elliott was dropped, then Dan hit the four to start the last over. All that went right out the window when Elliott hit THAT six, I was up, screaming, thrashing the air with both fists. As was everyone else there. Then I got to type my favourite tweet ever for the @BLACKCAPS: Screen shot 2015-05-18 at 11.33.20 AM

I would have tweeted more at the time, but I was busy with hugs. Apologies to press box traditionalists, I’m sure things will return to normal after this summer.


These guys were out playing and taking photos on the Eden Park pitch about an hour after the Semi Final ended. They got in trouble.

Nerdy trophy photo op.

tweetdeck craziness.

Australia, again.

I got to go to the final. I was there to do some filming for our website, and was lucky enough to be with the squad for the last couple of day’s build up. As always, I was impressed with the way the BLACKCAPS go about things. It was training for the World Cup Final at the world’s second greatest cricket stadium, but you could have just as easily been at the Basin or in Hamilton, going by the team’s attitude.

My impression is the hard work’s been done already and we’re just here for finishing touches. Put that down to the hard and meticulous work the coaching team do in the weeks, months and years beforehand. Everyone’s (seemingly) relaxed, everyone’s carrying on as per normal. There was a pretty epic McCullum v McCullum battle in the nets the day before the match, this is a team that even puts on a show for the people who come to watch them train.


Some handiwork.

Baz and MC chat while Bangladeshi photog Shamsul expertly wanders through, ruining everyone else’s shot.

As for the final – we all know what happened hey. The MCG itself really is awe-inspiring, there’s simply a wall of people everywhere you look. I have to say, the three balls that Starc bowled McCullum were three of the most electrifying I’ve ever seen, everyone knew this was our big gun taking on theirs and they were both going for it straight away.

There were moments of hope, before the opposition got control – they played bloody well, in fairness. As for us, it turns out our team are as gracious in defeat as they are in attack – listen to Brendon’s press conference post-match, to me it’s virtuoso stuff.

Back in January when we beat Sri Lanka at the Basin in the Kane Williamson double ton / record partnership with BJ Watling Test, someone said to me isn’t it so fantastic we’re excited about Test cricket with the World Cup around the corner? That was true, but I’m hoping there’ll be a lot more people getting excited about all things New Zealand Cricket after this tournament. The team and management set out to change the way they played and the way they were perceived after the ’45’ innings against South Africa back in 2012, and on the back of this summer, I think they got it just right. And there’s so much more to come.

This tournament was amazing because of the BLACKCAPS, their play, the way they carried themselves and the way we all got around them on the way to the final, the bloody final. Fair play to all involved in the planning and playing of this campaign, winning the final against a very hard-nosed outfit in their backyard aside, which would have been the fairy tale to end all fairy tales, we did fantastic. I hope you’ve got it all kept on your MySKY, this summer is worth a few replays.

This is the most successful ODI team NZ has ever had. In so many ways.


My view for the final.

Cool ’92 display deep in the bowels of the ‘G.

 

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Some dork in the MCG. Photo credit: T Boult.

*The Eden Park outdoor press box was the most magnificent press box I’d ever sat in in all my time in cricket. Up in the gods you’ve got the whole ground laid out in front of you from almost directly behind the bowler’s arm. I took in two of the most amazing games I’ve ever seen, in any sport, from up there. It was a bloody privilege to be there.

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My view.
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Who ruled the world?

sportreview.net.nz NZ flag submission

Donald-flag

The sportreview.net.nz design panel feels the ‘Beaver flag’ would unite New Zealand around a feel-good, ‘aw shucks™’ design that says we can achieve anything, but we’re not going to bloody go on and on about it.

The NZ Flag Consideration Project Secretariat Team, not so much.

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sportreview.net.nz NZ flag submission

Tweet the crap out of it, cricket edition

I’ve got a bit to catch up on here, with the Big Tournament over now.  Wasn’t that fun?

Meantime, you may enjoy this post on how I tweet for the BLACKCAPS.

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Tweet the crap out of it, cricket edition

Jocks n nerds

If you should so desire, you can listen to me on Sean Callahan’s Sports Geek podcast, talking blackcaps.co.nz, our social media stuff and wot’s coming up for the world cup.

There’s a more fulsome run down over at richardirvine.com.

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Jocks n nerds

Great CWC15 moments – an early contender

Walking the fan trail to BLACKCAPS v Sri Lanka, New Zealand Cricket GM Selection Bruce Edgar spots this young up and comer hitting them nicely, stops and hands him his card.

“I usually play in back yards.”

“What back yards? I’ll be watching.”2015-02-14 10.11.16

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Great CWC15 moments – an early contender

Don’t like sport? Get better jokes

Super Bowl isn’t just about American Football, nachos and TV ads. It’s also the biggest day of the year for otherwise sensible folk to make their best ‘I don’t understand sport’ jokes on Twitter.

The Super Bowl, which happens on a plain old Monday at the office for us in New Zealand seems to be the, ah, Super Bowl of this kind of thing. The combination of the timing, the bizzaro nature of American Football at the best of times, combined with a good proportion of the world being really into it gets Twitter comedians excited to use their best material on this day.

The classic format is basically cramming as many sporting terms as you know into a tweet in an ultra-irony-fest-ista. Or just making something up. For heaven’s sake, you wouldn’t want anyone to actually think you know / care about this shit. It goes like this:

“Wow, a sports guy just body slammed the basketball one into the stumps lol”

“Touchdown! Or a try! I don’t know!”

“The Tampa Bay Sailors are so wasting the Milwaukee Cunninghams !”

Etc. It goes on. And on.

Look, perplexing stuff happens on Twitter all the time, as anyone who follows a proportion of the parliamentary press gallery knows. And the plethora of awards shows at this time of year? I have no idea.

American Football is not my favourite sport, and I like a good troll as much as anyone, but  this line of humour in moribund. All the jokes have been done, team.

So how about we raise the bar? I challenge the non-sport interested to do something funnier and more original with this material. Or even watch a bit to see what’s going on.

Look, sport can be wonderful – look how happy this guy is.

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Don’t like sport? Get better jokes

Links on Friday

So much to enjoy here. The Beige. Richie commentating. Hadlee’s restrained chat. Botham having no idea what’s going on, but appearing pretty comfortable with it. Hadlee eventually getting bored with swinging it all around Botham’s bat and setting him up like a Vegas card counter. A typically un-sunsmart 80s crowd. The duck. Just watch.

The Guardian’s 50 favourite sport photographs of 2014.
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Colorado Rapids / Fulham fan runs batshit Twitter campaign to get promotion / relegation into Major League Soccer. A former political operative, his strategy seems to be exhausting everyone on the internet into submission. No-one get any ideas.

Nike explains how they make their athlete’s signature shoes. And there’s this awesome John McEnroe pic.
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Links on Friday

sportreview.net.nz’s year in shonky mobile phone photos

Here’s a charge around the boundary of what I got up to in 2014, sport-wise. It mainly contains cricket and you can click the pictures to make them bigger if you so desire.

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Above and below – Whangarei’s Cobham Oval is a fine, fine ground, complete with its own ‘little Lord’s’ pavilion. Go visit if you can.

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28K at Eden Park for BLACKCAPS v India – how good is this World Cup going to be?

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I got to go to the World T20 in Bangladesh and played a round at the Chittagong Country Club – there were actual snakes in the grass.

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In Dhaka airport, I found my spiritual home.

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Fatullah. Hotter than you can possibly imagine.

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Chittagong’s Hotel Agrabad serves ‘afternoon snacks’ in guest’s rooms. By god I could use this service in the office.

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Roll Taylor. He took it well.

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We visited the Forsyth Barr Stadium on the annual boy’s weekend. Recommended.

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Souvenir balls, which players get to keep after five wicket bags etc – these are verified by scorers then passed on to the players.

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New Zealander gets hands on Cricket World Cup. *Twilight Zone music*

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This is what happens when a cricket ball gets smacked into the media box and you try and take a photo of the ensuing chaos and you don’t realise your phone is stuck on panorama. I think I captured the moment.

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I liked what Harvey Norman did with their TVs here.

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Fine ropey cricket memorabilia found in Mount Maunganui second hand book shop.

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Bruce Edgar doing lawn bowls. Geddit? I thought it was cool.

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Me, post-match at the above lawn bowls event. Photo credit: @richardboock

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sportreview.net.nz’s year in shonky mobile phone photos

sportreview.net.nz 2014, um, review

As has been pointed out, this blog’s tenth year has not been an especially productive if you measure these things in terms of *posting* on the blog. Let’s up the word count with a mazy dribble through 2014.

Football
That was a Great world cup. Not only did we get pretty football and amazing goals, but it all seemed to be played in front of big, noisy crowds (not that noisy) in decent spirit, apart from the biting and that. It’s a shame FIFA lets us down again and again as an organisation, but somehow, they’re still running this game.

Game of the tournament was Brazil v Germany, for wonderful goals and the other-worldliness of it all, it was like seeing the fall of Rome in two 45 minutes halves. Goal of the tournament was the little Aussie battler Tim Cahill’s, what a strike. Performance of the tournament was any time Miguel Herrera was on the camera.

I don’t want to talk about Tottenham. Expecting a Tottenham manager with mixed results in the first season to be there for any length of time is like expecting loyalty from a domestic house cat. I’ve been hurt too many times before.

Oh, and this was the greatest thing to happen on the field in 2014:

Rugby
New Zealand is in the middle of another, yinnow, very special era. We’re kind of getting used to them. But are we happy? I have to say I didn’t watch as much rugby as in recent years, mainly kept it to the big Tests v South Africa and the Ockers and catching some of my Chiefs in the super rugby (I am extremely confident that next year is going to be our year again). Malaise? Laziness? I don’t know. There is nothing wrong with the game the national team is playing, we have more depth than seems fair to other nations, and are expertly coached.

Maybe it’s because you can’t hold a conversation about rugby in this country without WHAT ABOUT THE WORLD CUP hovering over you like a grim reaper. Enjoying rugby outside world cups seems pointless. Can we have more proper tours with three test series and matches against provinces please? Taking the game to the Chicago did not do it for me.

Maybe I should just relax and enjoy it. We really are spoiled in this country.

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I got down to Dunedin to see the Chiefs crap out to the Highlanders with a bunch of (fellow) idiots from Hamilton. This is a world class stadium that had a lot of atmosphere when half full, it must be amazing when packed. You’re so close you think someone is going to put liniment on you.

Cricket
How bonkers was 2014? From Corey Anderson knocking up a world’s fastest ODI ton on new year’s day to the prospect of the BLACKCAPS reaching all kinds of records and just quietly having the most successful-ever Test calendar year ever, it’s been one we’ll remember for a long time. Highlights:

Being at Eden Park for the ODI v India with 28,000 people, thanks to Auckland’s Indian community, who were amazing. Great taste of what a packed cricket stadium feels like ahead of the Big Tournament next year.

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The Test win at Eden Park, with Brendon McCullum’s double ton and an absolute rip snorter from Neil Wagner to get us over the line. Eden Park can feel AMAZING with a few thousand in too.

Seeing half of Wellington come in on that murky Tuesday morning to cheer the skipper on to 302. Privilege to be there.

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Just quietly, while the grassy banks of Seddon Park are still home for me, I am coming around to the charms of the Basin big time as New Zealand’s best Test ground. From the old-school main stand to the lovingly-and-expertly run museum (check out that book sale) to the fact so many of NZ’s most passionate cricket fans are Wellingtonians who are loud on the Twitter and turn up to see their teams. My head has been turned. See you on the third.

Again, I’d never expected to go to Bangladesh in my life, let alone twice, but that happened. It’s not for everyone, and living the sheltered life with the team meant you don’t really see the real city, but I loved it. That Chittagong storm was something to see with chest-rattling thunder and blinding lightning moving slowly and inevitably through the muggy night air to the ground before the rainstorm came. Biblical stuff.
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Winning a rare away Test series in the West Indies by coming back from a loss in the second and being deep in the crap in the third was remarkable, many players cite that series win as their highlight of the year.

The third Test v Pakistan in Sharjah will be remembered for the way the team paid tribute to Phil Hughes and then performed one of the most remarkable turnarounds you’ll ever see. You kind of want to wax lyrical but it doesn’t seem appropriate. It was nuts and made me very proud.

Elsewhere, the cricket from Australia has been compelling, with Mitch and his moustache, and this series against India shaping up nicely. And the tributes to Phil Hughes were moving and appropriate. This clip from his 50-over double hundred for Australia A shows you what an outrageous batsman he was, have a look at what we’ve lost:

The internet and that
I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to be able to sit at work and do*ahem* work on one screen and have SKY Go and Tweetbot going on the other. I watched a lot of the football world cup like this, as well as some of the West Indies Test series, the Ashes and the current Australia v India series.

I loved #putoutyourbats, ’twas a very cricket way to pay tribute to Phil Hughes.

The Alternative Commentary Collective was funny and brilliant, and an example of using the internet to do new things, of which I approve. Will be great to see them back this year.

Watching sport with Twitter is kind of cool but kind of weird, you miss a lot when you’re trying to keep up with the conversation. That said, out of my cold, dead hands, etc. What’s the answer team?

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sportreview.net.nz 2014, um, review

Hell of a year

Baz

Brendon McCullum:

“We decided that we couldn’t win every game, but what we could do is change the way we played and the attitude towards us and the attitude within the group… Players changed, players’ personalities and behaviours started to change.

“We wanted to be known as a team that no matter what situation we were in, we were going to make it bloody tough for the opposition to beat us. That might beat us, and if they outplay us that’s fine, but we’re going to make it hard.

“We’re going to play an attacking style of cricket; in the field we’re going to chase the ball to the boundary as hard as we can; you’re going to see a team that works incredibly hard off the field; and you’re going to see a team that’s respectful and even-keeled in their emotions. You see that now with the way Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor celebrate hundreds compared to other teams around the world. Very rarely do we get into confrontations on the field. We want to be known as a team that respects the game, works hard and plays attacking and innovative cricket.”

Recommended reading.

Also this from Mike Selvey.

Also.

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Hell of a year