When I was eight, and still dreaming of a career in the baggy green, I would burst into tears whenever I got out. Fortunately, I outgrow the habit by the age of 10. Watto, even at the age of 34, greets every dismissal as if still in the throes of that impending juvenile trauma. He bristles with purpose, but it’s a purpose with no team solidarity; his sporting will is entirely self-centred.
This post has been has been in my drafts folder for an embarrassingly long period of time. So here goes, this will probably be the world’s last Cricket World Cup roundup published, a record sportreview.net.nz is ‘pretty comfortable’ with.
You don’t need me to tell you the tournament was more feel-good than the kids from Stand By Me taking on Alien and taking the big ugly down. I was working as Digital Manager for New Zealand Cricket during the cup and got to to to the opener in Christchurch, some of the pool play matches and the three knockout matches. Here’s how it went for me:
Christchurch was all nerves. Could we carry on the form from home series when it really counted? Would Malinga come back and mess us up? No, as it turns out. It was comprehensive stuff on a feckin freezing day, in front of a boisterous crowd, who took the ‘best streakers’ trophy at a canter from the outset.
Later in the tournament when the talk was of us not batting first and setting a total, I was thinking of this match, when we did just that – just the casual 330 odd.
Even though this was us v Sri Lanka at Hagley, it felt very different to the previous matches, with the ICC roadshow underway – the coverage was different, as were the advertising hoardings and extremely sponsor heavy entertainment. The big show had arrived.
The match had been sold out for months, and people turned out in droves for the opening ceremony on a magnificent Thursday summer’s evening. I know it’s easy for me to say, breezing in and out for a few days, but I thought Christchurch was lovely, the gaping holes in the middle of town aside. Everyone I met was very excited about the tournament and what it meant for their city. Marvelous.
Uncharitably, on tournament eve I had the pleasure of watching the Crusaders losing their opener to the Rebels in a suburban bar and watching three quarters of the people walk out on the final whistle, but you’ll remember I am not a very nice person.
I wasn’t there, but holy crap. After England’s pretty reasonable start, Tim Southee just broke them and pretty much ended their tournament. Those inswingers that threaten to collect stumps he bowls every match, did. Again and again. Then Brendon McCullum laid down a marker for the rest of the tournament, seemingly intent on re-modelling the Cake Tin with the ball. It was absolute carnage and it was over in a flash, apart from the world’s most awkward tea break. Brilliant.
Serious press pack for the Aussie match.
This was a Big Week. All the Aussie media you’d been reading for years were suddenly alongside you watching the net sessions. The big guys had come to town, and my god Eden Park was up for it. If you’ve ever been to a rugby match there, imagine that only heaps, heaps louder. Tim, then Dan, then Trent took them down big time, and a new generation of Australian cricketers were warmly welcomed into New Zealand’s comedy villain hall of fame alongside Greg Chappell, Greg Matthews, various Waughs, various Shanes, etc.
Those guys leaning over the barrier did their national duty by giving Mitch Johnson comprehensive verbal arseholes.
Then we batted, and there were a few lows. The first was McCullum getting whacked in the arm, halting his steady dismantling of their attack. The second was when we started losing wickets. The third was when we kept losing wickets. My view in the stand* was directly behind Starc’s arm and I can tell you he was swinging it shitloads, to use the technical term, in the warm-ups, god only knows how he was to face in the match. Anyway, Boult and Williamson’s pep talk when Trent got out there has been well documented and you know how the match ended. Seriously, I could hardly type, my fingers were shaking that much.
No I’m not a major fan of music at the cricket, but between the winning roar and the presentations, they played Boston’s More Than A Feeling, one of my favourite ever songs, as the sky started to turn a deep red out to the west. Haven’t felt a sport-related warm glow like that in a while.
And – this was my partner’s first game of live cricket. Imagine that!
This was the first time I’d worked at a BLACKCAPS match from Seddon Park in my NZC role, somehow I’d managed to not get just down the road yet. It’s a fantastic venue, still my favourite in New Zealand, the hipster boutique ground who got there before everyone else.
Seddon Park. Lovely.
This match will be remembered for Guptill’s hard-fought ton, Southee smacking the winning runs high onto the bank, those fecking flying death bugs, but probably most of all, Brendon’s hail mary dive into the fence to try and save four. It racked up 300K odd views by the time the match had ended and is still the second most viewed video on the CWC15 site. Just FYI those video screens are covered in little light covers that are actually reasonably sharp, that would have really hurt, team.
The Alternative Commentary Collective‘s call this day was one of their finest, off the back of the killjoy ban from the ground. I forget whether they were on the mushies or the buckies this day, but whatever it was, it worked.
West Indies The team described this as the toughest match, mentally, one we were expected to win against a fairly unpredictable opposition. We needn’t have worried – Guptill’s 237 is the most destructive thing I’ve seen since Keith Robinson.
It’s funny looking back how on the edge we were, midway through the first innings people were questioning the scoring rate and saying we had to hit out, or we’d miss out. That turned out to be bollocks. Guptill’s innings, and our total, were colossal and despite some West Indian flurries, we did it comfortably. See you in Auckland, then.
There’s some fair competition of moment of the tournament, but Dan’s catch is pretty up there for me. When you think about what he’d done to get himself back, the phenomenal shape he was in that allowed him to leap like that, and land like that, you have to hand it to him. Watch the clip again, see how delighted his team mates are for him.
This is the chap sent up on the stadium roof to retrieve Martin Guptill’s six.
The last time I saw us play South Africa at Eden Park was back in 1992, when Greatbach smacked one onto the old grandstand’s roof. The chaps from that campaign went from one end of the country to the other repeatedly to promote this tournament, but now we were here, it was all about going one better, really. Personally, I was shitting myself we were going to get Pakistan and that I Wouldn’t Be Able To Handle It, but South Africa it was, complete with de Villiers, Amla and Steyn. Ahem.
The match started in one of the weirdest atmospheres I’d experienced. Not only was the packed-in crowd slightly subdued (it’s harder to sledge the South Africans than the Aussies, especially when they were dominating us), and the weather appeared to be hosing down literally everywhere in Auckland but Eden Park, teasing us relentlessly before it finally arrived.
After McCullum’s assault, where he knocked Steyn out of the attack, it settled into the tense run chase to end all run chases. I was watching Twitter and seeing folks talk about their hearts beating fast – mine wasn’t I just felt a bit circumspect. When you’re working during the match you’re kind of concentrating on doing your job, with a little bit of work-wise ‘what if we win / what if we lose’ in the background. Your inner fan kind of gets pushed right down, suppressed deep inside. Well, that inner fan came back at me big time with two overs to go, when the pit of my stomach fell out completely. My hands were shaking and my heart was going like an elephant that’d slipped its chain. I’d never felt anything like it.
The form in a press box is that you don’t celebrate, you’re there to do your bloody job and be neutral. I restricted myself to a few quiet fist pumps as Elliott was dropped, then Dan hit the four to start the last over. All that went right out the window when Elliott hit THAT six, I was up, screaming, thrashing the air with both fists. As was everyone else there. Then I got to type my favourite tweet ever for the @BLACKCAPS:
I would have tweeted more at the time, but I was busy with hugs. Apologies to press box traditionalists, I’m sure things will return to normal after this summer.
These guys were out playing and taking photos on the Eden Park pitch about an hour after the Semi Final ended. They got in trouble.
Nerdy trophy photo op.
I got to go to the final. I was there to do some filming for our website, and was lucky enough to be with the squad for the last couple of day’s build up. As always, I was impressed with the way the BLACKCAPS go about things. It was training for the World Cup Final at the world’s second greatest cricket stadium, but you could have just as easily been at the Basin or in Hamilton, going by the team’s attitude.
My impression is the hard work’s been done already and we’re just here for finishing touches. Put that down to the hard and meticulous work the coaching team do in the weeks, months and years beforehand. Everyone’s (seemingly) relaxed, everyone’s carrying on as per normal. There was a pretty epic McCullum v McCullum battle in the nets the day before the match, this is a team that even puts on a show for the people who come to watch them train.
Baz and MC chat while Bangladeshi photog Shamsul expertly wanders through, ruining everyone else’s shot.
As for the final – we all know what happened hey. The MCG itself really is awe-inspiring, there’s simply a wall of people everywhere you look. I have to say, the three balls that Starc bowled McCullum were three of the most electrifying I’ve ever seen, everyone knew this was our big gun taking on theirs and they were both going for it straight away.
There were moments of hope, before the opposition got control – they played bloody well, in fairness. As for us, it turns out our team are as gracious in defeat as they are in attack – listen to Brendon’s press conference post-match, to me it’s virtuoso stuff.
Back in January when we beat Sri Lanka at the Basin in the Kane Williamson double ton / record partnership with BJ Watling Test, someone said to me isn’t it so fantastic we’re excited about Test cricket with the World Cup around the corner? That was true, but I’m hoping there’ll be a lot more people getting excited about all things New Zealand Cricket after this tournament. The team and management set out to change the way they played and the way they were perceived after the ’45’ innings against South Africa back in 2012, and on the back of this summer, I think they got it just right. And there’s so much more to come.
This tournament was amazing because of the BLACKCAPS, their play, the way they carried themselves and the way we all got around them on the way to the final, the bloody final. Fair play to all involved in the planning and playing of this campaign, winning the final against a very hard-nosed outfit in their backyard aside, which would have been the fairy tale to end all fairy tales, we did fantastic. I hope you’ve got it all kept on your MySKY, this summer is worth a few replays.
This is the most successful ODI team NZ has ever had. In so many ways.
My view for the final.
Cool ’92 display deep in the bowels of the ‘G.
Some dork in the MCG. Photo credit: T Boult.
*The Eden Park outdoor press box was the most magnificent press box I’d ever sat in in all my time in cricket. Up in the gods you’ve got the whole ground laid out in front of you from almost directly behind the bowler’s arm. I took in two of the most amazing games I’ve ever seen, in any sport, from up there. It was a bloody privilege to be there.
sportreview.net.nz had a floppy-fringe-and-cardigan-and-moody-guitar-band- enabled stormer in the 90s. The football was GREAT too, with Tottenham’s ‘famous five’ of Teddy Sheringham, Jurgen Klinsmannn, Darren Anderton etc forever holding a special place in my heart – but was football in general actually *better*? Vice UK investigates. Seriously, this page is worth it just for the Matt Le Tissier goal compilation alone, fantastic stuff.
This guy went to the Tour De France and didn’t enjoy it. Surely the ideal scenario for watching TDF in the flesh would be picking a little mountainside bar, spend the day there drinking cheap red wine and eating bread and cheese and watching it on the telly while bantering with adorable old geezers wearing berets and bags of onions and garlic, pausing only to saunter outside to watch the riders go past? He’s done it all wrong.
If sportreview.net.nz was in the market to get rad / gleam the cube etc, it would opt for a VHS-inspired deck, like so:
Details of Doping Scheme Paint Armstrong as Leader [New York Times] “Zabriskie, a five-time national time-trial champion, recalled serenading Johan Bruyneel, the longtime team manager, with a song about EPO, to the tune of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’. “EPO all in my veins; Lately things just don’t seem the same; Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why; ’Scuse me while I pass this guy.”
Dark Turn in the Tale of a First Title [New York Times] Just before the 1999 Tour de France, a teammate pointed out that Lance Armstrong had a bruise on his upper arm caused by a syringe. According to a doping investigation, Armstrong cursed and said, “That’s not good.”
How Armstrong Beat Cycling’s Drug Tests [New York Times] “The most conventional way that the U.S. Postal riders beat what little out-of-competition testing there was, was to simply use their wits to avoid the testers,” the report concluded.
We’ve had a pretty decent Olympics, to say the least. Gold medals! Aussie baiting! Learning about our propensity to measure ourselves against the rest of the world sporting-success-wise in unrealistic terms!
The per capita medal website gets mad revenue from NZ targeted banner advertising.
The 2012 Olympics has been a gold medal bonanza for NZ, but more importantly, we learned a lot about ourselves and each other, with Val Adams and Nick Willis manfully (and womanfully) coping with the expectations of a nation and a nation’s media in a much, much more mature fashion than the nation. To our credit, we’ve reduced the time in which we go from ‘teenager denied Fall Out Boy tickets by the man’ tantrums to ‘hey you guys, they’ve done their best’ over ‘lost’ gold medals to a few minutes, way down from 25 years as per rugby world cup cycles.
Our rowers were obviously our stars, but I was most pleased for Keirin rider Simon van Velthooven, who got the tied-for-bronze medal after an agonising wait against an absolutely top class field. And our equestrians, who exuded an air of wanting to get all the facking horse riding bore out of the way fast, so they could get on with getting on the lash, what. Bravo.
This has been dubbed the ‘social’ Olympics, ‘cos people are using the internet now and that, in the same way that trips to the loo with a smartphone are dubbed the ‘social’ ablutions. And so, sportreview presents a selection of Olympic links. Enjoy.
The Black Caps’ West Indian tours has been somewhat challenging so far. Difficult country to tour. Upheaval in the coaching staff. Multiple injuries. A mixture of jaded old pros and inexperienced youngsters. If the guys aren’t careful, it has all the hallmarks of going full Cairns / Paroroe / Turner.
The Black Caps arrive in the West Indies looking forward to playing some decent cricket.
Ross Taylor receives the latest injury report from medical staff.
Brendon McCallum answers the cry for back up.
John Wright sits the boys down for a bit of a motivational talk.
As I write this, the Black Caps are putting together a decent bowling performance to win the third one-dayer. The West Indies are no one-man team, but Chris Gayle is the key. He can cheerfully take our attack to bits and make it look depressingly easy. We need to get him and get him early – on paper, there’s no reason why our patched-up team can’t beat the West Indies, even at home. Of course, things written on bits of paper are faily meaningless when you’re being carted to all parts of the ground, and have to share your sweltering hotel room with an overly-enthusiastic calypso band. Let’s hope our guys can push on from here.
Back home, there’s now two options for central Auckland test cricket venues. This new one is a stone’s throw from the old one, part of proposed development for the tank farm. There’s no doubt the concept photos are spectacular, and its right-beside-the-water-ness would give Auckland a central city sporting venue at last. It would be great if the Victoria Park and Waterfront groups can work together to make sure this happens in some fashion, and the test-cricket-in-Albany plan is sent to, well, Albany forever.
Last thing on cricket – Mark Boucher has been forced to retire from cricket due to a nasty, nasty injury. Great shame for him, and he’ll be missed by South Africa – but I’ll remember him mainly for this tremendous sledging effort against Zimbabwe.
The sporting media loved the Sonny Bill story, as they got to report reports from those ‘in the know’ – New Zealand rugby’s number one ‘in the know’ sources are the guy who runs the mini doughnut stand outside Eden Park, and Murray Deaker’s postie. They had Sonny Bill going to Japan to play for a corporation renowned for having shitloads of cash and a shithouse rugby team – and they were right. Rugby’s worst kept secret since ‘Stu Wilson is a bit of a twat’ was revealed at a press conference that reached turning-up-to-work-naked levels of awkwardness.
Touchingly, Sonny Bill seemed genuinely sad to be leaving the Chiefs and the All Blacks. Less touchingly, he’s still going. Suddenly he’s all about handshakes and loyalty, when up til now, all appearances indicate he’s mostly interested in negotiating deals for heaps of wonga. It’s a bloody shame, he seems to have fitted in really well at the Chiefs – and things will change on both sides after a year away in Japan and Sydney. I’ve got no idea if we’ll see him back, we’ll see, and we’ll see if it seems to matter as much as it does now. If he really cared about the team and his team mates he says he does now, he might have put that first.
I took sportreview jr to the rugger on Friday night at Waikato Stadium. Highly recommended, $12 for adults and $5 for kids, with a bouncy castle and little giveaways for the up and comers. Shame about the result, but.
In the tour, Bradley Wiggins is in yellow, and appears comfortable on the bike, and jumpy like a cat in a bag full of dogs off it, sweating at cameramen and anonymous losers on Twitter alike. Wiggins is cool-as-fuck, Paul Weller on a bike, all mod sideburns and Jimmy-from-Quadrophenia accent.
The Tour De France seems to be presenting no problem for Wiggins, but the mechanical doping rumours won’t go away.
He’s also the leader and beneficiary of the best managed, organised and funded cycling organisation in the world that, after winning Olympic medals galore decided to produce a Tour winner, and it looks like they may have one. I’m nervous for him, his broken collarbone exit from last year’s tour is fresh in my mind, and I think it’s preying on his too. Hang in there Wiggo.
NSFW language, unless your place of work is Team Sky at the Tour De France, in which case it’s fuckin’ game on.
2011 was the year you could say ‘it’s all happening’ and be right. Earthquakes. An election. A world cup. What didn’t happen? Here’s a quick round up.
Rugby World Cup
As a nation, New Zealand did the vacuuming, put the sausage rolls in the oven and hosted the rugby world simply and well, despite the haters and grandstanding, which became less and less important as we went. As for the rugby – well, we bloody won it, didn’t we? Two months on, you only have to show me Graham Henry’s post-final-win-eyebrow gymnastics or Richie McCaw being eye-gouged and I’m glowing like those folk in Cocoon.
Beating the Aussies
After a world cup (remember that) where we did our lose-in-the-semi thing, That First Win In Australia Since Ever was an epic of fingernails on the floor. It was hard to know what kind of NZ cricket team we had post-captaincy switch (alright, it’s ALWAYS hard to know what kind of team we have), but the Tasmanian fightback showed we had some real heart – and hope for the future. Bring on the South Africans.
I haven’t mentioned them much on the site, for fear of jinxing them. After missing out narrowly last time, Spurs are quietly having a brilliant season and look very much at home in the top four. Ask me more about how it’s going after we beat Chelsea this morning.
One of the best and worst I’ve seen – worst because of the first week crashes that took Wiggins et al out – best because of the slow burning drama and eventual, worthy winner. Cadel deserved his win for the way he rode, and the way he’s ridden over the last few years. He won’t do it again though, and I hope for a few more fireworks next year. It’s been a fantastic year for NZ’s cyclists also, the folding of Pure Black Racing aside – hoping for a big medal haul on the track in London next year too.
Man of the year
Well, who do you reckon? Stephen Donald is a bigger folk hero than Bob Dylan, his journey from whitebaiting to world cup winner was more beautiful than an unattended burger restaurant. The whole country got the Beaver fever and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Here he is resting on the beach or my little tribute.
Twitter, obviously, is where all the former sports bloggers are hanging out these days – and most of the athletes. It’s possible to go from abusing someone on the field to abusing them on the internet in no time nowadays. Two twitter related posts: for the cricket and for the rugby. I love Powerpoint (even thought it was a slow year for sportreview cartoons) and loved this.
Of course, most thanks go to you, mysterious readers. This site is obviously a little labour of love, I do it for no other reason than I enjoy it thoroughly. sportreview.net.nz is the kind of crappy NZ sports blog I would like to read if this one didn’t exit – it’s extremely heartening to know others enjoy it too. Thanks, appreciate it.
I’ve done bugger-all film watching or reading this year. Drive was the best (only?) (current) film I saw at the cinema, and I’m working my way through Peter Guralnick’s Elvis Bios. TV wise, I’ve really got into Game Of Thrones, Breaking Bad and Community. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the Discourse NZ podcast. All recommended.
Wishing you a happy and more settled 2012 – see you next year!
Me and Dan. I told him how gutted I was for him, but also how stoked I was for Stephen Donald.
Best rugby ground in NZ, still. Tremendous atmosphere for all three matches I went to there.
Eden Park felt like a proper international stadium during the RWC. Let’s hope they keep those temporary stands somewhere handy.