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Michael Clarke and his part in my sore shoulder

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Brown’s Bay’s Freyberg Park, basically Lord’s with knee deep grass.


As average cricketers go, I’m pretty much middle of the pack. After playing through school, club cricket at Uni and a magical Guinness-soaked season in Ireland I haven’t bothered an oval in any fashion until late 2015, when I’ve had the honour of  representing the mighty Mairangi Vice in East Coast Bays cricket club’s Bays Big Bash comp.

It’s an eight a side Twenty20 comp designed for chaps who’ve played a bit in the past but are too hectic with kids / jobs / laziness to play at the weekends, and are also probably mostly injured. There’s a few rules designed to get the game done before dark like short run ups and only bowling from one end – it felt good to be playing with a proper ball again. Our team was made up of Dads from around the neighbourhood and around the world, with South Africa, England and India as well as NZ represented, we were a happy unit.

Most Monday nights I’d drift off to sleep replaying the one that really came out of the middle of the bat with a satisfyingly wooden-sounding Tchock. Or feeling more useless than Darren Lehmann’s thesaurus  because I’d dropped another catch.  Either way, playing again has been bloody magic.

Trade Me definitely enabled the excitement before season one. I needed a new bat and won the auction for a Slazenger V900 bow, a nice piece of willow that was definitely wider with bigger edges than the ones I was used to back in the day. I was a bit devastated to see Michael Clarke’s name on the back of it, and even more so when I scored a new bag, which also turned out to be endorsed by my least favourite cricketer ever. That will learn me and I look forward to getting my Shane Watson pads next year.

My Michael Clarke bat, Michael Clarke bag, his reaction at my kit.

I consider myself mainly a bowler, yer medium pace out swing, off cutter, obvious slow balls kind of carry on, but my memories didn’t really match up with what my arm refused to do any more. We were playing with white balls that swung alarmingly for the first four overs, then immediately transformed into pieces of dry soap, and it took me some time to get into a decent rhythm and get those effort-ball-leg-side wides out of my game. A few wickets came but I was never the game changer I envisaged on the drive to the ground. Batsman’s game, innit.

In game one this year, full of confidence after a hasty net the day before I somehow managed to rattle up 65 not out. In my mind it was Guptill at the cake tin. The reality was probably more paddle crab with bat.

You can always tell what kind of backyard a batsman has from his go-to shots. For me, the target areas were straight down the ground to the back fence, slashing between point and the covers into the large shrubs and nothing on the leg side, where the windows were. I did manage to work a kind of golf shot to cow corner into this limited set of shots and somehow managed another three 50s this year to my utter delight and furious eye rolling of my partner and kids.

The real shocker was in the field, I could not take a catch to save my life. Everything went great in practice but get me out there with a real live chance and I went to pieces, mournfully throwing the ball back, apologising to the bowler and muttering all the swear words I know to myself for the next few overs. I have no excuse, and if I get to play again, I’ll be out there doing proper practice pre-season. Hopefully.

Full credit goes to the umpires who put up with us, Louis at East Coast Bays and the Mairangi Vice fellas themselves for their enthusiasm and reliability. I’m sure I’ve done something to my shoulder, and while I’m busy not doing anything about it during the winter I’ll have those happy memories of a straight half-volley sailing over the boundary or actually getting a yorker right for once. It’s been amazing fun.

Links on Friday

Who did the best presidential first pitch? For sportreview.net.nz, Obama wins best jeans, Regan best jacket, Clinton takes most surprising lack of fire while JFK wins for best suit and not even bothering to get out on the field.  See them all.

The connoisseurs of Litton’s audacity were galvanized. They stared at course maps: He could have cut it there—or there. For the conspiracy-minded, it was a juicy peach, and LetsRun contributors adopted handles like Lone Gunman and Zapruder. The paramount question was “How?” Did he have an accomplice? Did he drive from point to point? Ride a bicycle? Devise digital subversions?

Long read from the New Yorker – amateur sleuths suspect marathon runner of cheating, crowdsource massive / obsessive / nerdy  investigation.

Two guys kayak down a drain at about eleven thousand miles an hour. Try and watch this without ducking at your desk:

Links on Friday

Brendon McCullum’s all-time Test XI. All the great aggressive batsmen are there (except Baz himself). Sir Viv is captain and Tim n Trent are the seamers. An extremely solid line up this one, and I’d expect Kane to slip in at number 3 or 4 in the next few years.


Team GB’s psychological training for Rio included finding your bag at the airport, apparently.

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These ‘sneakers’ would look more at home parked on the driveway than on your feet – there are worse, much worse, in the 20 ugliest sneakers of the past 20 years.

Missing the games already? This is old but well worth another look – Irish sailing commentator has no idea and abuses Australians, pleasingly.

Links on Friday

Asterix and Obelix taught me wild boars were something you chased for a little while, then magically transformed into a roast. Asterix and Obelix lied.

If you’ve watched Kane’s cover drives and Guppy’s lofted straight drives and thought you could do that, you are wrong. It’s a bit bloody different when you’re out there with an actual bat facing an actual ball, even in sportreview.net.nz’s old-man’s T20 league – real life tends a bit more… agricultural. Pete Langman on the shots we *actually* play.

Game Of Life is for losers.

Links on Friday

Lord’s with lights looks amazing. And they’re only bloody telescopic.

Hunter took at least another two minutes lining up his putt, then struck it quickly. He missed the putt by about a foot and, charging after it, let out a howl as he winged his putter into the pond. The geese started honking and Hunter ran back to the cart, pulled the 12-gauge from his golf bag and fired over the geese, and they lifted off the pond like a sparkling cloud of gray and white feathers.

This is what it’s like to play golf with Hunter S. Thompson on acid.

When your centre forward suffers a horrible injury, there’s nothing more reassuring than a tweet of them thumbs aloft in a hospital bed, enjoying the food – and so: a brief history of sportsmen in hospital beds.

The pigs are all like ‘this kind of shit happens all the time – oh look, lunch is here!’:

Links on Friday

The new face of international diplomacy. Euro wrecker Boris Johnson drops his shoulder into the middle of an opponent’s gentleman’s area, while playing football. Best comedy foreign minister since Winston.

Long read – Premier League rivalries unraveled.
Includes Arsenal’s underhand and wholly immoral inclusion in top flight football then and forever more, and ones that spring up then fade, like Liverpool and Chelsea in the late 2000s. Some rivalries you don’t want, like when Spurs depressingly played Wimbledon something like 16 times in a week in 1999, and some are just weird, like our ‘title rivalry with Leicester City in 2016’. Tremendous pics and layout here too.

Turns out Bradley Cooper is an uber-Tennis fan, turning up all over the world to watch @PseudoFed, looking impossibly yet casually cool.

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The name of this article, “These Incredibly Shit Euro 2016 Flags Will Make You Lose All Hope For Humanity” does said flags a disservice, because they are brilliant.

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Links on Friday

Make sure you get all over The Spinoff’s steroided-up sports section – it’s the internet equivalent of a Barcelona-style team goal with 30 stroked passes leading to a stonking finish, with Scotty Stevenson in the editor’s seat and friend-of-sportreview Calum Henderson contributing. Hopefully Spinoff supremo Duncan Grieve will find time among running the most impressive actual-writing site in NZ to write some sport, ‘cos he’s ace at it. Well played.

Anyone who says football is faster now obviously hasn’t seen Marco Tardelli take down Gianni Rivera two seconds after kick off. Yellow card.

Inside the mind of a striker:

A major part of my job is to lie (sorry, Mom). I have to use deception to manipulate two, sometimes three, defenders guarding me. It’s a 90-minute game of chess. If I know we don’t have the ball in a threatening spot, I’ll often sacrifice my positioning for a little while so I can soften up the defenders for later.

Could you win a Madden NFL Superbowl with an average dude at quarterback? The challenge is to add a player to a video game with roughly the same stats and skills as yer average couch / beer / chips athlete. I don’t think he’s going to go well.

Don’t like sport? Get better jokes

Super Bowl isn’t just about American Football, nachos and TV ads. It’s also the biggest day of the year for otherwise sensible folk to make their best ‘I don’t understand sport’ jokes on Twitter.

The Super Bowl, which happens on a plain old Monday at the office for us in New Zealand seems to be the, ah, Super Bowl of this kind of thing. The combination of the timing, the bizzaro nature of American Football at the best of times, combined with a good proportion of the world being really into it gets Twitter comedians excited to use their best material on this day.

The classic format is basically cramming as many sporting terms as you know into a tweet in an ultra-irony-fest-ista. Or just making something up. For heaven’s sake, you wouldn’t want anyone to actually think you know / care about this shit. It goes like this:

“Wow, a sports guy just body slammed the basketball one into the stumps lol”

“Touchdown! Or a try! I don’t know!”

“The Tampa Bay Sailors are so wasting the Milwaukee Cunninghams !”

Etc. It goes on. And on.

Look, perplexing stuff happens on Twitter all the time, as anyone who follows a proportion of the parliamentary press gallery knows. And the plethora of awards shows at this time of year? I have no idea.

American Football is not my favourite sport, and I like a good troll as much as anyone, but  this line of humour in moribund. All the jokes have been done, team.

So how about we raise the bar? I challenge the non-sport interested to do something funnier and more original with this material. Or even watch a bit to see what’s going on.

Look, sport can be wonderful – look how happy this guy is.

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Links on Friday

Footballers. They’re generally into Page Three models, Essex nightclubs and flash motors. Innit. But, it turns out that plucky title-challengers-Liverpool are sheltering the EPL’s only hipster footballer Daniel Sturridge, the “Kanye West of the Northwest”. It’s a fair call, and Vice asks valid questions about why footballers are so uncool generally (remember when George Benson was every player’s fav musician in Roy Of The Rovers questionnaires?), but I say Sturridge is number two hipster – doesn’t get more street than Andy Carroll off his tits at a festival wearing a flouro vest, does it?

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Further ‘Scottish football managers are generally angry’ news:

Baseball fandom get the New York Times data journalism treatment. Interesting, nerdy stuff – but it seems sportreview.net.nz-favoured Oakland Athletics have  no fans. Kind of like sportreview. Ahem.

American Football team logos designed as proper football logos. Some of these are awesome.

Ten years of sportreview.net.nz: Etc

This week marks the ten year anniversary of this blog making the internet worse. Cue a series of unprecedented navel gazing posts – thanks for reading, team.  Ten years: Banners / NEWSDESK / Cartoons / Links on Friday

Thanks for bearing with the ten year posts team, I know it’s been a hard slog. And thanks again for reading. It’s always a thrill to know that a few people enjoy reading the site and get a laugh out of it. As always, the aim of the site is:

I love sport, and I love New Zealand. We Kiwis support our sports people admirably, but take it all a bit seriously. I just want to inject a little humour. Relax, it won’t hurt a bit.

Also thanks to the other sports bloggers, who are a little thinner on the ground now as say five or six years ago (Twitter has a lot to answer for here). The likes of Graeme , JRod, the Beige Brigade (one of the finest fan-lead organisations in the world)’s Paul Ford, Hadyn (the Dropkicks!), Duncan Grieve‘s lamented DeadBall and all the others I’ve missed. It was a lot of fun being part of a group of (mostly) guys who gave a lot of fucks about sport, on the field, but also about the issues around it, the creep of commercialisation and where where the sporting organisations were taking their sports.

The site has evolved over the years from a pretty straight links-blog-with-a-little-comment to the cartoons, to the links on Friday, to the satire, to the ‘analytical‘ stuff to what it is now. Yes, I know the site is not updated as frequently as its heyday, and that pragmatically, with my job, I’m not as actively annoying.  Hopefully that’s balanced out a little, where possible, with some behind-the-scences stuff from the BLACKCAPS. Here’s when I went to Bangladesh and, um, here’s that other time I went to Bangladesh. Ahem.

Some of the posts I’ve enjoyed writing the most are from my own sporting experiences – as someone that spent most of my OE trying to visit sports events, the sportreview.net.nz top 12 stadiums post was a great place to record all that (top three are Waikato Stadium, Eden Park and White Hart Lane, spoiler fans). There’s also my two attempts to cover myself in glory and lager at the 1999 Cricket World Cup in Cardiff as the BLACKCAPS beat the Aussies, and the All Blacks v Italy pool match in Huddersfield that ended with an un-sanctioned meet and greet with the team in a Leeds nightclub, also in ’99. You may also enjoy this write up of playing cricket in a friendly fixture / piss up in Wexford, Ireland.

1999, what a year! Making friends with Glen Osbourne in Huddersfield.

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1999, what a year! Celebrating wasting the Ockers in Cardiff.
Some other stuff that you may enjoy are the sportreview podcast – start with this French test preview. Try also Sport’s top five Fight Club duos and the Top ten tragic moments in New Zealand Sport.

I’m still taking Stalkipedia entries, you know.

I enjoyed the site the most during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the one we bloody won. Reminisce on the semi-final,  the final, Stephen Donald’s recall and those bloody jerseys.

If you’re having a look through the site, start with the Greatest Hits.

I think that’s about it. I think the site can be summed up best by ‘caring about sport’ and ‘having fun’, and I trust that if you’ve found your way here you do one, or the other, or both.  Good on you, sport needs more like you.  Righto.

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That Bangladesh bat-signing shambles in full.

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