If this long summer’s Cricket was a relationship, the BNZ series was meeting at a party when too drunk to talk, the Commonwealth Bank series was a ‘getting to know you’ dinner and movie without being asked in for coffee, Chappell-Hadlee was getting drunk and swimming naked, the World Cup was slowly realising something just wasn’t right, while McCullum sweeping Muralitharan down square leg’s throat in the Semi was getting a fax with “YOU’RE DUMPED! LOL!” on it.
So that’s it – we’re third in the world, which is arguably a great result for us – but I don’t feel like arguing, I feel like staying in my room for the weekend, wearing black and listening to The Smiths. It feels about as appealing as yesterday’s Asparagus rolls given 6 minutes in the microwave. The whole tournament has been, well, a bit shit, with empty stadiums, the early exits of Pakistan and India, the poor form of the hosts, England and South Africa adding up to make this tournament drag on more than a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond “just to see what’s there”. This is all underlined by Bob Woolmer’s death and subsequent botched-up investigation, the exact opposite of what this enthusiastic and wise cricket man deserved.
New Zealand were consistent but not world beaters – and it was our old friends the Aussies and Sri Lankans that dented and finally totalled all that optimism that ‘this could be our year’. This sucks, because we’ve played them loads this summer – yet our guys were just as clueless about Malinga and Muralitharan’s bowling in the semi final as in January. We had some great moments, but like a steak sandwich made from Richard Loe’s jandals – this season’s best bits were in the middle (the Chappell-Hadlee series was just thrilling), with nasty business at the start and end.
Fleming took responsibility and his reign as captain of the one day side is over, but he was was hardly alone in a ‘New Zealand top order batsman not scoring runs’ club. Fleming was chucked in as captain as a 23 year old, and lead us to two World Cup semi finals and an ICC trophy. It’s a real shame we missed out on that test series win in Australia in 2001, Fleming deserves better than Richard Boock’s unreadable book and some of the most bizarre endorsement choices around (Dressing as a can of Rexona? Flogging air conditioners backed by country singers? “Thanks, Mr Hooker!”???) to remember him by.
I feel like that dreadlocked groundsman at the final putting the 30 yard circle back out when the umpires had finished fucking around – I’ve had enough Cricket for the moment, and I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m glad Malcom Speed and his crew were roundly booed at the final presentation – lucky the crowd bought their torches, eh? The Guardian’s Gideon Haigh sums it up better than I can:
Maybe they saw this spectacle for what it was: a bunch of overcoached, overcooked lookalikes providing third-rate content for Rupert Murdoch. Perhaps the idea all along was to soften us up for the inexorable advance of Twenty20 cricket. It has never looked better.
When’s our next test series, anyway?
Ah well – that’s Cricket over with – bring on the Rugby. I’ve watched hardly any Super 14 this year, I feel the same way as when the Lions came out – there’ll be Rugby hysteria aplenty this year, so why not put it off as long as possible before succumbing? Following the Black Caps is about hoping for a miracle, while the All Blacks operate under grave, crushing, deadly, deadly serious and humour-free expectation. It’s still fun, mind, just different. I was really hoping for that Caribbean miracle, though. As a toe in a hot bath, I watched the Chiefs beat the Warratahs in a close, entertaining match on Friday evening, the kind they usually lose. It’s good to be back…