The Herald went big on Jeremy Wells‘ ‘Victoria Park as a cricket test venue’ proposal on Saturday with Steve Deane and Dylan Cleaver chipping in with editorials, and an epic ‘your views’ page. Let’s not mess this up – this is a fantastic proposal. We’re now a city with no central city sporting venue AT ALL (OK, Vector aside), and this proposal would bring crowds of happy, thirsty sports folk into the CBD without *too* much disruption and give test cricket a unique setting. The alternative options for test cricket (Eden Park, bloody ALBANY!) excite me as much as a ‘Danny Morrison, life coach’ audio book.
The Herald’s commentators berated the recently released city stadium discussion document for its very lack of vision – Auckland’s stadiums are beset by underinvestment, location and self interest issues and this document does little to sort that out. Set that against the example of the Gold Coast’s Skilled Park, a replica of Brisbane’s FANTASTIC Suncorp Stadium, only with one tier. When there’s demand for more capacity, they’ll simply build another tier on top, and she’ll be right, Bruce. As an Auckland sports fan and ratepayer, that’s the kind of vision I’d have liked to see in the vision document. In the absence of leadership from the city’s leaders, let’s help make Victoria Park happen.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the All Blacks’ two tests so far. The first one, cos the new look All Blacks, with a patented mix of youth ‘n’ experience WASTED the Irish, and looked bloody good. The second, because it was close, and we still won. Of course, as a former resident of the Republic, I was gutted for Ireland they couldn’t get over the line – but not *that* gutted. A key part of my personal arrogant All-Black-supporting folklore is that teams like Ireland and Scotland have never beaten us, so I took it in my stride. Still, I was unimpressed that with some NZ fans on Twitter ‘going for’ the Irish. I’m all for sportsmanship, but this is unacceptable. Support your world champion national team, we’ve been waiting to be able to say that for a while now, let’s make the most of it. Sound poo-covered jandal beatings all around.
For the All Blacks, everyone has played well, generally, but I’m most excited about Aaron Smith, the passing number nine. We’ve been down the ‘halfback as extra loose forward’ path for so long now – but with Marshall, Kelleher at half back, not to mention Andrew Hore, Ali Williams, the Franks, as well as arguably Conrad Smith, we’ve actually wound up with about 23 loose forwards on the park at a time. So, this return to simpler times where the half back actually clears the ball in a timely fashion is a welcome one and the backline looks better for the extra time and space. Next few years will be interesting when Smith and TJ ‘chosen one’ Perenara go head to head for the spot.
Oh, and three test-series. I like them, let’s have one every year.
You should really pick up this month’s Metro. Steve Braunais takes the most thoughtful look at the Blues’ season I’ve seen (great to see SB writing about sport again – still waiting for the football book!), and Donna Chisholm investigates concussion in our contact sports. The first thing I turn to though, is Duncan Greive‘s (of friend-of-sportreview Deadball, among other things) sport page – a pithy run through of things that matter and things you probably didn’t know. I’m very pleased to see Duncan contributing longer pieces, like the excellent Dylan Boucher piece a couple of issues back. Like I say, recommended.