Dream Baz New Zealand

2014-02-18 10.57.32
Striding out to knock off that triple.
If the price of dreaming big, cricket wise, is all those bank ads, it’s one I’m prepared to pay. We’ve been very spoiled under Brendon McCullum.

Up the rankings, actual depth, some stunning individual and team performances and the elimination of those games where we just never showed up. The skipper never bogged himself down in boring old survival or arse protection. He took on the job with many ups and downs as a professional cricketer under his belt and with his head up and eyes open and a clear idea of how we should play – positive, attacking and prepared to have a punt.

He’s one of cricket’s elder statesmen now – when he talks, people listen whether it’s about the state of those Kookaburra balls or the upcoming spirit of cricket speech. He held the world’s press in the palm of his hand before the world cup final, going over his team’s story and how they planned to play, while his opposite number squeaked out his plans to retire in the equivalent time slot. The tour of England that followed was like Captain Cook in reverse, with the colony bringing heady abandon to the motherland, producing that bonkers series, the high point of the throw-everything-at-it, attack from everywhere approach.

Showtime the day before the final.
Showtime the day before the final.

I loved watching him in the nets, those cuts and smashes back past the bowler would make either a fearful sonic boom or a thick, woody click that meant he’d really, really found the middle. There were days he’d face a ridiculous number of balls, leaning on the bat and having chats with his players in between. On other days it was like BYC, with all the trick shots and banter with the bowlers, to help get his team in the positive mindset he wanted.

Yer average park cricketer could never imagine playing an elegant billiard ball drive like Fleming, but everyone can relate to giving it a go like Brendon – swinging hard, dancing down the wicket or playing beach cricket scoops. He just happened to do it against the world’s best and fastest.

While we’re all a bit flat after the Australian series, we still have a young, skillful team with more depth than we know what to do with. The coach, manager and support staff are all still there and we’re about to have the very-recent world’s number one batsman take over as skipper. We could be much worse off.

It will be interesting to see where Brendon pops up next, I hope he finds time to give the battered body he was always so happy to fling at an advertising hoarding a rest for a while. I’d love to hear his thoughts from a commentary booth every now and again but I’m not sure that’s his style. No doubt whatever he does, he’ll do it his own way and be pretty comfortable with it.

Nz captain McCullum going to toss on the ground-1
A proud moment let down by poor footwear selection.
sportreview.net.nz best Baz bits

  • The partnership with Craig McMillan to win the Chappell Hadlee in Hamilton in ’07. Two of our most outrageous hitters ever putting it together to make a  crazy run chase
  • The golden helmet IPL debut. Here was this new world of cash and megastar v megastar we were all a bit unsure of, and there was our guy from Dunedin dominating it from the start
  • The 302, obviously. Digging in when we were really in the shit and winning a war of attrition with what was a pretty formidable Indian team at the time before getting over the physical and mental hurdles, not to mention the weight of the nation to nail it. Best gloomy Tuesday morning ever and the double ton in the first Test wasn’t bad either
  • Beating England in Chittagong in a biblical storm in the 2014 WT20. He’d worked out the D/L and hit two sixes and a four in from six balls to ensure we got in front for a vital win
  • The Sharjah Test. Another double ton but more importantly leading the BLACKCAPS and pretty much the cricketing world in paying respect to Phil Hughes
  • Grant Elliott and Luke Ronchi’s 267 run stand. OK, it’s not *technically* Brendon but I couldn’t imagine this fightback happening under any other captain
  • Taking down Dale Steyn and setting us on our way to the final at Eden Park. See also the pool match v England
  • The final folk hero moment, the world’s fastest Test ton. Individually, hard to think of a more appropriate way to go out

Bloody Aussies – in pictures

So, having attended the Basin Tests in the last three years including Brendon’s 302 and Kane’s 242 with NZC, I was lucky enough to get a couple of days away to see The Big One v Australia and Baz’s 100th.

So, the cricket didn’t turn out so well. Many things have to come into place for an enthralling Test match to happen, not least of which is two teams adapting to conditions to play their best, but also umpire’s calls and the pitch. And the toss! Ahem.

Fair play to Wellington’s cricket fans though, this was a magnificent Test to attend. This ground is unofficial HQ for NZ Test cricket fans, and people from all over make an effort to get here and everyone had a great time from what I saw. It’s a relaxing place to watch, even when it’s a sell out, and you can get on the ground at lunch and see the players wandering off for a net through the crowd during the day. Sifting around outside the Cambridge Hotel after close of play on Saturday, the entire Australian support staff sashayed past us, making their way to the hotel. Darren Lehmann was invited in for a pint, but politely declined while looking pretty tempted.

Like I say, the result didn’t go our way this time but I had a ball catching up with Graeme, Moog, Paul, Jess, Toby, Jamie, Peter and everyone else I’ve forgotten. Recommended, A+, hope to trade again next year.


Day one – around 9.30am, the crowd at the gate for a sold out match. Not bad.


@sportsfreakconz called this the most Wellington band ever and I agree. Beards – check. Flat caps – check. Waist coats – check. Bit early for a beer with twigs in it, but the sun’s not bothering the yardarm just yet.


Having a look at the pitch at lunchtime, day one. Goddammit.


These guys were all class.


Possible ND mafia origins on display at the New Zealand Cricket Museum, who had a stormer this Test, hosting the BYC pod and the Scott family, among probably heaps more. Get along.


Watched my two days mostly from the seats in front of the Museum Stand. Have to hand it to the capital, weather wise.


The crowd making their own fun on day two.


Surreal moments – Saturday night I was lucky enough to join Paul @BeigeBrigade and friends and family for BYC under lights at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park (an ideal spot for a day-nighter just FYI), when…


…we were joined by these overgrown, multi coloured Wilberforces, part of The Lucid Dreambike. They were fantastic.


Home again.

Wasting the Aussies is fun and I would like more please

This is great. Brilliant.
This is great. Brilliant.

The Chappell-Hadlee is basically Game Of Thrones at this stage. Two families. Leaders of men. Saying ‘who the fuck is that?’ a lot (about Australia). Arse grabbing.

This year’s edition over three battles had everything – monstering the Ockers at Eden Park was as cathartic at punching an annoying sparrow who woke you up too early. In the nation’s offices there was less work done than a Saturday before we all rushed home to catch Santner take the final wickets, leaving us with an evening to sit around and feel awesome.

Wellington was a decent reminder not to get ahead of ourselves. This Australian team may have less names than a sign up sheet for An Evening With Aaron Gilmore but they’re still Australia and know how to win.

Hamilton, o Hamilton. So much beauty on the banks of the Waikato, but so much aggro. It’s the same for cricket. I listened to the first innings on the radio, and watched the second in a Mount Maunganui bar. It was… relaxing to watch the Australian wickets tumble, and as we were watching with with the sound off, I was perfectly placed to lip read. Thoroughly enjoyed that aspect, not to mention the scramble for the outraged high ground over Marsh’s wicket afterwards.

After the World Cup final unpleasantness we owed them big time and taking them down, with the combination of replacements, youngsters and, erm, olders is just another testament to the depth and strength we have now. Remember we just won our biggest ODI series without our senior batsman and bowler. When’s that happened before?

This team just keeps building, starting from zero against South Africa, and making perfectly timed runs through each of the last three summers to take on the big Tests at the end of each summer, be it India, the World Cup or Australia.

And so, this Test series is arguably the biggest of them all, World Cup included, in the roughest toughest format knowing that it’s the last under Baz. Here’s what you can expect:

  • We will mount a big comeback. Remember, the 302 innings all started when we were deep in the shit, and late on day five, we were bowling for the win. Same goes for the 2014 Basin Test, when Williamson matched Sangakkara’s double hundred, and thanks to some wicked seam bowling, we took the lollies and the series
  • The Australians will get very, very annoyed at us. They’re not handling our team culture and the way it’s lapped up at all well. Seasoned mind games exponents Steve Waugh and Ian Chappell will be giving their jandals a severe beating at the way our captain is waltzing around theirs
  • David Warner will score heavily at some stage. Unfortunately
  • We will get a very big score. We have the players to do it at the top and bottom of the order, there’s no reason we can’t really, really cash in Wellington or Christchurch and give our bowlers a few days to pick the tourists off
  • Australian ex-players will get involved through the media. Which is brilliant, as it has a duel effect of firing up the NZers and demotivating their own team, as they’re forced to comment on the daily brain fart in press conferences

Above all, we will see the skipper off in style. One of the chief architects is about to walk off-site, but he’s left it looking really, really good and the ones who’ll carry on look like they know what they’re doing.

Hayden: In my day, we got punched in the dick

Aussie great Matthew Hayden: Lifting the lid on dick punching
Aussie great Matthew Hayden: No problem with pre-match backside situation.
OPINION: Former Australia and World XI opening bat Matthew Hayden.

“There’s been a lot of of talk on social media about Usman’s backside burrow on young Adam Zampa before his debut.

Can’t see the issue. Nothing says ‘you’ve made it champ’ like a friendly fondle of the bottle and glass during Advance Australia Fair.

Besides. Back in my day, we just got punched in the dick.

I’ll never forget getting the call to say I was going to England to play for Australia. It’s every young cricketer’s dream, but I knew my wedding tackle was in for a Barry Crocker.

Merv Hughes did the honours off a terrifying long run in the hotel lobby before my debut at Old Trafford. I went on to make 29 from 55 balls, a decent return considering the tears of pride and pain in my eyes.

Behind every baggy green, there’s a dick punching story. It was a proud day in the Waugh household when Steve welcomed younger brother Mark to the national team with a typically efficient and uncompromising blow to the trouser snake in Adelaide.

And you bet your stubbie cooler Trevor got the full Chappy-slap from Ian and Greg.

Everyone remembers Boony drinking 52 beers on the plane to England, but not many people know young Tubby Taylor had to punch himself in the rainmaker for every empty can.

While I’m sad to see dick punching go – sharp pain that starts deep in your stomach before spreading throughout your body can bring a team together better than any of John Buc’s freaky ideas – times change. Guys spend a lot more time in the gym these days and a big bash to the balls could cost a youngster a lucrative contract in the IPL.

Anyway – you don’t want to know what it takes to become a Channel 9 commentator.”