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Michael Clarke and his part in my sore shoulder

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Brown’s Bay’s Freyberg Park, basically Lord’s with knee deep grass.


As average cricketers go, I’m pretty much middle of the pack. After playing through school, club cricket at Uni and a magical Guinness-soaked season in Ireland I haven’t bothered an oval in any fashion until late 2015, when I’ve had the honour of  representing the mighty Mairangi Vice in East Coast Bays cricket club’s Bays Big Bash comp.

It’s an eight a side Twenty20 comp designed for chaps who’ve played a bit in the past but are too hectic with kids / jobs / laziness to play at the weekends, and are also probably mostly injured. There’s a few rules designed to get the game done before dark like short run ups and only bowling from one end – it felt good to be playing with a proper ball again. Our team was made up of Dads from around the neighbourhood and around the world, with South Africa, England and India as well as NZ represented, we were a happy unit.

Most Monday nights I’d drift off to sleep replaying the one that really came out of the middle of the bat with a satisfyingly wooden-sounding Tchock. Or feeling more useless than Darren Lehmann’s thesaurus  because I’d dropped another catch.  Either way, playing again has been bloody magic.

Trade Me definitely enabled the excitement before season one. I needed a new bat and won the auction for a Slazenger V900 bow, a nice piece of willow that was definitely wider with bigger edges than the ones I was used to back in the day. I was a bit devastated to see Michael Clarke’s name on the back of it, and even more so when I scored a new bag, which also turned out to be endorsed by my least favourite cricketer ever. That will learn me and I look forward to getting my Shane Watson pads next year.

My Michael Clarke bat, Michael Clarke bag, his reaction at my kit.

I consider myself mainly a bowler, yer medium pace out swing, off cutter, obvious slow balls kind of carry on, but my memories didn’t really match up with what my arm refused to do any more. We were playing with white balls that swung alarmingly for the first four overs, then immediately transformed into pieces of dry soap, and it took me some time to get into a decent rhythm and get those effort-ball-leg-side wides out of my game. A few wickets came but I was never the game changer I envisaged on the drive to the ground. Batsman’s game, innit.

In game one this year, full of confidence after a hasty net the day before I somehow managed to rattle up 65 not out. In my mind it was Guptill at the cake tin. The reality was probably more paddle crab with bat.

You can always tell what kind of backyard a batsman has from his go-to shots. For me, the target areas were straight down the ground to the back fence, slashing between point and the covers into the large shrubs and nothing on the leg side, where the windows were. I did manage to work a kind of golf shot to cow corner into this limited set of shots and somehow managed another three 50s this year to my utter delight and furious eye rolling of my partner and kids.

The real shocker was in the field, I could not take a catch to save my life. Everything went great in practice but get me out there with a real live chance and I went to pieces, mournfully throwing the ball back, apologising to the bowler and muttering all the swear words I know to myself for the next few overs. I have no excuse, and if I get to play again, I’ll be out there doing proper practice pre-season. Hopefully.

Full credit goes to the umpires who put up with us, Louis at East Coast Bays and the Mairangi Vice fellas themselves for their enthusiasm and reliability. I’m sure I’ve done something to my shoulder, and while I’m busy not doing anything about it during the winter I’ll have those happy memories of a straight half-volley sailing over the boundary or actually getting a yorker right for once. It’s been amazing fun.

Links on Friday

Who did the best presidential first pitch? For sportreview.net.nz, Obama wins best jeans, Regan best jacket, Clinton takes most surprising lack of fire while JFK wins for best suit and not even bothering to get out on the field.  See them all.

The connoisseurs of Litton’s audacity were galvanized. They stared at course maps: He could have cut it there—or there. For the conspiracy-minded, it was a juicy peach, and LetsRun contributors adopted handles like Lone Gunman and Zapruder. The paramount question was “How?” Did he have an accomplice? Did he drive from point to point? Ride a bicycle? Devise digital subversions?

Long read from the New Yorker – amateur sleuths suspect marathon runner of cheating, crowdsource massive / obsessive / nerdy  investigation.

Two guys kayak down a drain at about eleven thousand miles an hour. Try and watch this without ducking at your desk:

Managing to live without Blues v Rebels on a Thursday night

Fallon on Sumner

“We used to have our battles in training me and Stevie, don’t worry. It wan’t always pleasant and it was toe to toe sometimes. 

“In the latter days, which is a funny one actually, we got along great! When we weren’t on the field we actually became friends!”

A very Kevin Fallon tribute to Steve Sumner on Morning Report, managing to sound a bit put out that his former skipper took over his desk at Gisborne City. For more Fallon, read Duncan Greive’s boots and all Metro profile.

RIP Steve Sumner, obviously. Fantastic captain, fantastic eyebrows. Here is scoring six against Fiji en route to Spain.

Post script – OK, we won this 13-0, but there’s some glaring missed chances here. Fuming.

Norwegian commentator always applicable

Helpful tweeter pointed out that Joh’s actually one of ours but TWEET STILL STANDS.

Links on Friday

The FIFA 17 football game can get deeply weird – but FIFA 17 in real life is weirder:

This professional wide boy looks after the Premier League’s highly paid man-child’s every need, from mobile phones to super cars.

My friend told me, “Now I have to work, you’re kind of on your own from here.” In other words, If you get caught, I don’t know you. The three rules he gave me were no autographs, no personal photos, and no cheering.

All you need to get press access to a major league baseball game is a fake newspaper and a fair amount of Chutzpah.

Behold – the coolest sneakers in movies in one minute:

Links on Friday

From the ‘fark that’ files – downhill urban mountain biking:

Watching Ronaldo was like watching a river flowing, lightning flashing, or a herd of bulls stampeding across the plains. It was profound and beautiful, insomuch as it was a natural occurrence. Ronaldo was a phenomenon, and he inspired the requisite human awe.

Vice on Ronaldo, the proper buck-toothed, huge shouldered, twinkletoed one, not the irritating gobshite one.

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If, like perennially slow to the party sportreview.net.nz, you had no idea what the Crying Jordan meme was all about, the New York Times has you covered.

Fan engagement at its absolute best, from the sportreview.net.nz-endorsed Oakland A’s:

Cheika shits in All Black dressing room

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Cheika: Made pre-match grunt sculpture in AB toilet.

NEWSDESK: Eye gouging, refereeing criticism and boot throwing – you can now add a surreptitious pre-match steamer to the list.

Under-fire Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has been accused of defecating and creating an offensive odour  in the All Black dressing room before his team’s 29-9 defeat at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.

Closed circuit TV confirms the Wallabies coach entered the opposition shed carrying that morning’s Dominion Post sport section under one arm, shortly before the cave painting was discovered.

Head coach Steve Hansen is playing the incident down. “The smell was worse than a dead possum in the boot, but we train for this kind of thing. The boys stuck to their processes and still got the result.

“We like to invite the opposition in for a beer after the match, but a spray and wipe like this certainly crosses a line. When Michael looks back at his decision making around dropping the kids off at the pool he’ll be disappointed.”

The IRB issued a statement expressing its disappointment in the inter-changing room floater, and reminded member countries to obey the usual home and away ablution protocols. The incident was being referred to the newly formed Bodily Function Sub-Committee, whose report is due mid-2019.

The incident is the first trans-Tasman turd since Michael Brial shat in Frank Bunce’s shoe at a 1996 Bledisloe post-match function.

Links on Friday

Brendon McCullum’s all-time Test XI. All the great aggressive batsmen are there (except Baz himself). Sir Viv is captain and Tim n Trent are the seamers. An extremely solid line up this one, and I’d expect Kane to slip in at number 3 or 4 in the next few years.


Team GB’s psychological training for Rio included finding your bag at the airport, apparently.

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These ‘sneakers’ would look more at home parked on the driveway than on your feet – there are worse, much worse, in the 20 ugliest sneakers of the past 20 years.

Missing the games already? This is old but well worth another look – Irish sailing commentator has no idea and abuses Australians, pleasingly.

All Black leadership group spends test week brainstorming sick burns

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NEWSDESK: In the build up to the Sydney test, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has his new-look leadership group working on big hits on the opposition coach rather than the tackle bags.

“This group is all about getting better,” said Hansen. “That’s why I’ve challenged the leaders to come up with some sick burns on that shit wombat.”

“It’s a tough room,” said first-year skipper Kieren Read. “I thought my bits about Hooper looking like the son of Phil Waugh and a wheelie bin was pretty brutal, but the boys shredded it. It’s good to get the feedback.”

In the past, Hansen would work on lines in his suite with Richie McCaw and Conrad Smith before practising delivery on Ian Foster, but is confident the new approach will be as effective. Rumours that Aaron Cruden’s benching was related to nicking all his material from a late night Seinfeld episode were unconfirmed.

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