Cricket world cup final FAQ

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Does it really, really hurt?

Did you want to go up on that balcony and give everyone a hug?

Does this one hurt more than 2015?
Tough one. Last time, we romped into the final and came up hard against Australia, and ran out of luck.

This time we scrapped and battled our way there by the skin of our teeth in the round robin and the semi-final, did the same to defend 241 runs and – this is important – didn’t actually lose. So yeah, it hurts more because we were so much closer.

So did you actually realise that the rule about the side scoring the most boundaries through the match being declared the winner after a tied super over was only brought in for this tournament, and in any other tournament the trophy would have been shared?
No, but now I am MORE ROPABLE than before.

Does cricket need to re-think how it decides drawn games?
Yes. But if we’d won, we’d have taken it to be fair.

Is comforting to lose a game like this and be admired for the way we played? Or would you rather be a dick and win?
There’s a solid argument the BLACKCAPS’ play, culture and leadership played a big part in getting us this far and to the brink of winning the lot (did I mention we didn’t lose?) today.

They were playing to win, don’t worry, but in a confident and respectful way. I’m biased, but reckon they represent some of the godzone’s very best values.

Besides, my understanding is that Australia have copyright over being dicks and winning.

Cricket wrecks your head eh?
If you can stomach a replay, watch Ben Stokes’ eyes rolling around in his head like a pokie machine in those last few overs. And Jofra Archer just about bursting into tears when he bowled that wide in the super over. Or Martin Guptil, who put his hand up to do a job most of us wouldn’t go near, after he couldn’t quite make his ground.

Was this the greatest ODI ever played?
Easily. Australia beating South Africa in 1999 was the previous mark, mainly for the mad last couple of overs, where this one had more drama than trying to find gold coins for the kids’ school sausage sizzle from start to finish.

Should we have won?
We certainly had our chances. And you won’t see a ball deflect off a bat for six runs like that for the rest of your life, probably. Right up until two balls to go in 50 over bit, I would rather be us than England. And we still tied. Augh.

Where do we go from here?
Our next match is a Test in Sri Lanka in August. Then there’s a T20 world cup in Australia next year, and some kind of world Test cricket championships in the works, which we have the potential to do very well in, we’re good at that too.

But as of tonight, we’re at the start of another world cup cycle. Not all the senior players will be back. Luckily we’re a pretty youthful team and many of them will just be coming into their peak.

Remember, we’re still in the early days of Gary Stead’s coaching, and it’s not that long ago Brendon McCullum retired and Kane took over.

It’s heartening the handover went relatively smoothly, and here we are in our second world cup final in a row. We’re in the middle of a remarkable run of consistent achievement, thanks to NZC’s succession planning and faith in local coaches. It hasn’t always been this way, as battle-scarred fans well remember – long may our golden run continue.

There’s always the rugby eh?
Sure. It won’t be as much fun though.

Should Super Overs be re-branded as Really Unsatisfying Overs?
Sign my

Are you proud?
So, so much.

A man overseeing several unfinished DIY projects answers your cricket world cup questions

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Have the BLACKCAPS made the semi finals?
We’re all but home on 11 points and need to win against either Australia (augh!) or England to make sure, or for some weird results to go against us. Weird stuff happens though eh, you see that hole where the sink should be? Not actually my fault. I don’t see the issue with washing dishes in a bucket for three weeks, people do that on boats hey.

Who’s been the stand out player?
Kane Williamson, no doubt. Two centuries when it counts, he’s dragged the team along so far. Player of the tournament so far, NOT like Stu, Ken and Rasher who turned up for Sunday’s working bee too hungover to do anything and just ate oven chips all day. I did too to be fair, but still.

Who are the form teams?
The old firm of India and Australia have hit form at the right time. Anyone wanting to win will have to beat one or both of these teams. They’re ticking all the boxes, not like me apparently after I came home from Bunnings with a great deal on AAA batteries and four more multi boxes but not the replacement front door. Two out of three ain’t bad! Hah!

Are there any issues with the team?
Some people are calling for change at the top of the order with Colin Munro still to convince people he’s the man for the job. With Henry Nicholls sat on the sideline there’s a good argument for his inclusion, not like arguments around here, where it’s all ‘half job Harry’, ‘bone idle’ and ’emotionally unavailable’. Jeez.

Has the tournament been a success overall?
It’s been a real celebration of cricket, with big loud crowds from England’s cultural melting pot. The pitches have played their part to make a decent contest between bat and ball – heaps of NZ fans are struggling with sleep deprivation, but I’m fine in the tent, no SKY out here! By the time I’m let back in the house it’ll all be over! Winning!

Magic Mike – a Mike Hesson top five

This content first appeared in Sport Review newsletter number thirteen – if you’d like to receive articles like this and much more every Friday, you can sign up here
When Joni Mitchell wrote ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone’, she probably had this golden BLACKCAPS era in mind. We’ve gone from one great captaincy run to the very start of another under coach Mike Hesson’s leadership, and after he dropped yesterday’s resignation bombshell, everyone on Twitter pretty much wanted someone to just carry on doing what he’s doing.

He’s made a monumental and worthy contribution – here’s a Mike Hesson top five:

5. Mikes Hesson and Sandle, Brendon McCullum and Bob Carter meet in a South African hotel room to lay out the plan for the team’s future, shortly after being bundled out for 45 in a Test innings. They set the blueprint for building a team with flair, a united culture and that New Zealanders could relate to and be proud of. We’re still reaping the benefits.
4. Planning, planning, planning. Remember when Grant Elliott was a surprise selection and Trent Boult wasn’t a white ball bowler? When was the last time we had so many all rounders? The preparation that goes into talent identification and team selections is meticulous in the extreme, and Mike’s hit rate is high.3. Just getting on with it. When he was appointed NZ coach, only people paying attention knew who he was, and the  captaincy change meant he was well on the back foot with the talkback crowd from the start. He kept his head down and let the results speak for themselves, slowly revealing his deep thinking and dry humour as he went on. It wasn’t the Mike Hesson show, but he was running it.

2. Forming the right team around the team. The core support staff are the part of the story you don’t often hear about, but they’re a massive part of the consistency and results we’ve enjoyed over the last few years. These guys work super hard to make sure everyone knows their job, has what they need to succeed and the encouragement to pull it off.

1. Building one of the great eras in NZ cricket. We’re a tough Test team to beat, can take down  anyone in ODIs and were even the number one bloody T20 side for a while there. We were World Cup finalists for the first time ever, hover in  respectable Test ranking spots, and put together a really solid run of wins, especially at home. These are wonderful times to be a NZ cricket fan, and we’re well placed to build on what we have now, with the right appointment.

And so, rarely for an NZ cricket coach, he gets to leave the job with oodles of goodwill and on his own terms. If he ever sits down in Dunedin to write a book, I’d love to read it, as it’ll be more The Art Of Captaincy than Lifting The Covers. It’s a great shame he’s lost to the ICC Cricket Committee before he got started as he’d have loads to contribute.

Let’s see what happens next – if he does end up in the Big Bash or the IPL, he’ll Moneyball it like nobody’s business. And when they hand the trophy out, he’ll just be standing to the side, looking proud of his players and satisfied with doing his bit and a job well done. Go well.

Auckland stadium power rankings

This content first appeared in Sport Review newsletter number eleven – if you’d like to receive articles like this and much more every Friday, you can sign up here

Auckland’s stadiums are like Stuff commenters – there are too many of them, and they’ve all got something wrong with them.

This week’s Auckland venue development strategy, handily summarised at, confirmed that as ever, the sticking points are Eden Park, Mount Smart and Albany Stadium. There’s an argument for knocking at least two out of three over and starting again.

A waterfront rugby / league/ football / concerts stadium must happen, with a retractable roof and meaningful connection with the CBD. To help push things along, behold the Sport Review Auckland stadium power rankings:

#5 – Eden Park 
What’s it good for? Rugby, and history. It was fantastic for RWC 2011, but that relied on temporary seating being put in. The number two ground is lovely for second tier cricket, with the old stand and the service station over Sandringham Road to aim at.
What’s wrong with it: It’s basically the world’s largest Back Yard Cricket venue, and no-one turns up for Test matches despite best efforts to put on a show. It’s too far out of town and your transport options are highly variable. Residents permanently terrified of Otago students vomiting on the Q7. No concerts allowed.
Personal high point: Cricket World Cup 2015 v Australia and the semi final, Waikato winning the Ranfurly Shield in 1993.

#4 equal – Albany Stadium
What’s it good for? Has potential but needs lots of work. Why not embrace the Shore’s culture and make it Stadium South Africa, home base for visiting Super Rugby teams, with Braai?
What’s wrong with it: Frustratingly far away from the bus station. Could be an ideal NZ Football venue and high performance set up but needs to get a pro team of its own, which is a can of worms bigger than Dune.
Personal high point: I saw the Kingz there once.

#4 equal – Mount Smart
What’s it good for? Spiritual home of the Warriors, in spite of itself. Close-ish to public transport if you’re up for a bit of a walk or are into industrial areas.
What’s wrong with it: Tired, needs a lot of fixing up. Despite having roots in South Auckland, the owners are keen as beans to move into town. Where Carlaw Park was. Ahem.
Personal high point: Paul McCartney last year, Big Day Out ’94.

#3 – America’s Cup village 
What’s it good for? Drinking beer beside the Waitemata water while watching yachts. Simple pleasures. It’s right beside the Viaduct where it all started, and takes advantage of all the development since.
What’s wrong with it? Nothing so far – there’s a lot to do, but it’s going to be in Auckland, not Italy, which is a great start.
Personal high point: When we retain it.

#2 – Vector Area 
What’s it good for? It’s downtown, still pretty modern and great for netball, basketball and concerts.
What’s wrong with it? The trains go straight past it, meaning an awkward walk back from Britomart. Would be the ideal location for a waterfront stadium.
Personal high point: Luckily, courtside for the Breakers one time, Pixies Dolittle tour in ’10.

#1 – Western Springs, cricket venue 
What’s it good for? The boutique ground to rule them all. OK,  it doesn’t technically exist, but if we can build a venue that can handle 5 or 45k fans just as easily, with lights, green top pitch, craft beer and some kind of artisan meat snacks that can still handle big summer concerts, it’s going to be an absolute winner. Victoria Park would be even better but it’s hard to see this flying.
What’s wrong with it: Residents permanently terrified of Guns n Roses showing up in speedway cars to poo on their begonias.
Personal high point: U2’s Love Comes To Town show in 1989, it was ace.

Like playing in the highlights

This content first appeared in Sport Review newsletter number nine – if you’d like to receive articles like this and much more every Friday, you can sign up here

Watching sport online in 2018 is a bit of a minefield – sure there’s BeIN for football fans, or League Pass for the NBA and SKYGO, run by the national set-top box business. But nirvana, or being able to see that amazing shot / try / catch / tackle / goal on your Twitter / Instagram / Facebook as it happens is still a little way off for most sports.

Sure, you can usually track down someone who’s pointed their phone at their TV and hit record, but shouldn’t we be able to get a quality, not to mention legal, product these days?

Most sports would see this as cutting their own lunch, or be handcuffed by their broadcasting agreements that pay the bills – but not the NBA. In this fascinating interview with Commissioner Adam Silver, he outlines how fans using NBA clips to create their own content isn’t just allowed but encouraged:

We promote the posting of our highlights. The highlights are identified through YouTube’s software, and when ads are sold against them, we share in the revenue. We analogize our strategy to snacks versus meals. If we provide those snacks to our fans on a free basis, they’re still going to want to eat meals — which are our games. There is no substitute for the live game experience. We believe that greater fan engagement through social media helps drive television ratings.

In other words, if you create a YouTube clip of your favourite player picking their nose, you’re more likely to get a viral hit than a legal letter, because it all drives fans back towards live games on their TV’s.

That means accounts like House of Highlights or content like the Ringer’s NBA desktop not only exist with the league’s blessing but get huge engagement numbers. It’s mature and refreshing, and really, really successful for one of the most popular sports in the world.

Here’s a subjective selection of how other sports stack up:

  • I’ve watched more Indian Premier League on my computer and phone than the TV this year, thanks to the exhausting amount of video, from the seven minute match highlights reels to the stunning catches and sixes to the individual player highlights. The ICC does this really well at tournament time also
  • New Zealand Cricket send you highlights of the day’s play to your phone an hour or so after close of play, if you’re happy to give them your email address – it’s a simple concept but bloody handy if you’re at the beach or work. They also get highlight clips of the amazing moments on social media swiftly
  • The Premier League has some average video ‘content’ on their site, and some retro stuff – wouldn’t it be amazing if they made more of the clips from its history? The teams themselves have some limited highlights and content they’ve created themselves on their own sites
  • Rugby isn’t really in the game, as Elliott Smith pointed out in the Herald this week – and the NRL are leaving them in the dust. And Super Rugby really needs to fix their website for mobile, it’s a shocker
  • Other US sports like Baseball and the NFL have loads of high quality content available, fast

It’s not easy putting a model like the NBA’s in place, which requires not just the vision to accept fans taking control of your product, but either a great relationship with your broadcaster or complete control of your rights.

While most NZ sports well recognise the importance and value of video to create and reward fans, it’ll be interesting to see who’ll be the first to take it to the next, mature level.

Chipping in for Kane on The Spinoff was lucky enough to contribute to top website The Spinoff, plumping for Kane Williamson as our greatest ever batsman, despite him only being mid-career. Have a read.

Then, come back and watch this video of Kane in the IPL – I love seeing what he can do in games like this, when he’s given a bit more license to improvise. With arguably less pressure on him, he can be as inventive and outlandish as anyone. And as always, matching his approach to what’s required for his team.

Things David Warner should have been fined for

Everyone’s favourite angry gnome is sick of just playing cricket and that, and is once more focused on verbals and being held back from fights he’d definitely win.

His encounter with de Kock has had more close examination of camera angles than the JFK assassination, with none of them showing much that you’d write home about. Any more discipline demerit points for Warner in the next couple of years will draw a suspension, and free him up to spend more time with his family he’s gotten so angry defending.

In fairness, his coach and CEO seem pretty relaxed about losing their world class opening bat for brain-explosion reasons. Maybe the board should have a view.

Anyway, can exclusively reveal the first Test sideshow is just the tip of the iceberg for fine-worthy infringements. Behold:


You can click it to make it bigger.

Bay City Ovalers

BLACKCAPS v England, Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui 28 February 2018

‘It’s great these lights are *finally* up,’ said Neil Craig, NZC board member and a driving force behind developing Bay Oval, while being interviewed on the big screen mid way through England’s innings.

The ‘finally’ indicates the ambition for this ground. Competition is getting fierce among the new breed of boutique grounds that includes University Oval, Hagley Park and  Saxton Oval (not to mention Queenstown, Whangarei, New Plymouth and arguably the Basin, now it’s been opened up to white ball cricket). But the Bay’s oval has moved fastest to get those all-important lights, and was rewarded with the popular holiday period T20s, along with Napier’s only scheduled international game thrown in.

It’s not hard to see more ODIs against the big guns coming here after 8000 or so punters packed in on a Wednesday night, and day / night Tests were mentioned more than once in conversations on the grass banks. It’s an easy ground for punters to get around and find a spot that suits on the banks, and the food on offer is top class, including Tag Burger. The Mount looks bloody fantastic on SKY’s  drone shots too.

I’m certain the building won’t stop there either, this ground has built up a serious head of steam. A new stand next?

As for the cricket, it was pretty enjoyable. For England. They fielded like the Kray Twins chasing down a debt, and their batsmen did to us what Ross Taylor and Tom Latham did to them in Hamilton, finding gaps and play it risk-free. It was classy stuff, and this series looks like a tough  assignment for both teams, and an intriguing one for the fans.

Not even Pakistan hipster cable knit could save us #cricket

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