Give us that microphone

On Sunday I was interviewed by Colin Peacock for Radio New Zealand’s Mediawatch show (again) about the Alternative Commentary Collective, the travelling band of commentators who covered the glorious ANZ ODI series v India, won 4-0 by the BLACKCAPS. Paul Ford‘s Cricinfo blog sets out what it’s all about.

You can listen to the Mediawatch show here – relevant bit comes on about twenty minutes in.

From here, it seems the ACC was a great success. It was hilarious. It got people talking. To me, it was pretty much a dream team of chaps who talked cricket at every chance they got in their other roles (comedy, TV, radio, what have you) finally being able to just talk cricket . There was a whole lot of knowledge and enthusiasm as well as some really, really funny stuff. The fact we happened to beat the world champs 4-0 in this series gave the whole affair a slightly surreal feel.

It all got a bit emotional toward the end of the final broadcast from Wellington when everyone was realising that that was it for this year. I hope it continues and I also hope that some poor bugger will sit down and go through the five matches’ commentary and put together some kind of Best Bits podcast or download, it was too good to be heard only once.

Fair play to everyone involved. Commentary is one of those things everyone reckons they can do better, but is actually bloody hard when you have a real live microphone to talk into. These chaps made it sound easy.


For those comfortable with turning their TV volume down and venturing into the world of alt-commentary, there’s (a few) options.

Jed Thian is the best known alt-commentator in New Zealand with the full-noise Alternative Rugby Commentary empire, which he’s taken around the world.

Graeme Hill, Paul Casserley and (ACC chap) Jeremy Wells among others did rugby commentary for BFM in the early 1990s to the mid-2000s, which have a legendary reputation, but very little of which exists online, there’s a brief run-down here.

Test Match Sofa are a well-established alt-commentary troupe covering all England Test matches with a range of guests but have locked legal horns with ECB over commentary rights.

Roy and HG have been doing this kind of thing for years over the ditch.

And this is what I meant on the radio about unashamedly biased fan commentary – it’s got a certain charm I guess, but seems to be a case of who can shout the loudest in this instance.

You wait for ages, then two podcasts come along at once

Two podcast related things.

1. I was on the New Zealand Digital Podcast with Paul Spain and Sim Ahmed, chatting about my role at NZC, and sportreview, among other things. You can listen to my episode in a variety of fashions here.

2. I submitted a ‘book nook’ entry to top cricket podcast, The BYC Podcast.

I reviewed The Art Of Captaincy by Mike Brearley, it went as follows:

You’ll love this book if you’re into tales of early 80s country cricket – it`s chocka with cracking dressing room quips by legendary players in damp knitwear waiting for the rain to stop and is reportedly one of Stephen Fleming’s big influences.

There’s straightforward and timeless advice on selection, field placement and batting orders – but it gets really interesting in the chapters on harnessing aggression and trying the unexpected. Brearley advocates underarm bowling in the right circumstances, a controversial stance in this country to say the least. There’s plenty on wrangling dressing room personalities, a possible pointer to Brearley’s post-cricket career as a psychologist,

Brearley played with and against some of the greats – Botham, Boycott, Greig, the Chappells and the dream West Indian pace attack are all used as examples. The contrasts between this era, when Boycott would open for England in limited overs matches, and today are fascinating.

Mike will be pleased to know there are lots of pictures.

9/10 – definitely made me feel more intelligent after reading.

Definitely listen to The BYC Podcast though, they made it loads better. And listen to it every week while you’re at it, it’s a must-listen chez moi.

Filling the basin

Sportzfreak and the Beige One have blogged on Fill The Basin, Sunday afternoon’s benefit match for viictims of the Canterbury earthquake. Here’s my thoughts:

How much fun was it? Cricket is the perfect sport for This Kind Of Thing, not too much physical exertion for the oldies, and lots of space in between the action for farking about. Plus Adam Parore got hit with a bouncer while being a cock. That was a highlight.

Some of these guys could still be playing for the Black Caps. The Greatbach / Astle partnership in particular was as smooth and brutal as a gang fight in a butter factory. That said, the years haven’t been kind to Gavin Larsen’s bowling. Nor Sir Richard’s, who doesn’t play a lot these days, unlike Ewan Chatfield, who still turns out for his club “if they haven’t got enough players.” Bless. Tana Umaga, though, that guy could play for the Black Caps *now*. As could bloody Marc Ellis.

You there! This is what your hair looks like!
Subtle Rexona product placement.

Our PM smiled and waved a bat at Shane Warne’s friendly bowling, but good god; as a nation, we need to improve our banter. Ben Hurley struggled manfully to lift the standard, but John Key – is “Liz says Hi” the best you can do? It’s hardly “I can smell the uranium on your breath” is it? It doesn’t even make sense. Warne showed us how it was done with an offhand and off color crack about the TradeMe prize winner’s wife – the crowd went quiet as they tried to work it out. Warne’s a great sport, we couldn’t have asked for a better heavily botox-ed pantomime villain for this event. He needs to bowl his underarms a bit straighter though.

The whole day, complete with the perfect venue and rugby and Hobbit luminaries, was a raging success, not to mention a tribute to Stephen Fleming’s mana, determination and political and organisational skill. Surely there’s a role for him somewhere in the national setup in the near future?

One grumble – the TAB made their beachhead in the nation’s living rooms even bigger with their guy Mark Stafford doing much of the TV interviewing. He may be able to ask softball questions OK, but do you want or accept Goldstein or the Marlboro Man doing the same? I don’t, and I don’t see the difference.

Photoshop Matthew Hayden and win a crappy DVD

In today’s Sunday paper, retired Australian opening batsman Matthew Hayden appears, endorsing VIP passes to Gold Coast theme parks. Hayden, famous for hosting weird BBQs in Regents Park like a homeless person and bullying Englishmen and Glen McGrath is one of cricket’s least loved players and a curious choice to sell anything to New Zealanders. Myself, I considered setting myself alight to prevent me even thinking about buying one of these VIP passes.

This will not stand. We cannot allow shitheels like Hayden to appear in our papers, unless it’s underneath ‘Australian ex-cricketer in punch in the face tragedy’ headlines or the like. There is no reason why Kyle Mills, say, couldn’t hold a card and look gormless to endorse this card.

So – Photoshop competition. Fire up your favorite image editing app (If you don’t have Photoshop, is handy, or even MS Paint will do – is no stranger to lo-tech, as regular readers will know) and get your entry in by 6pm NZ time, Sunday 8 August.

Here’s what you need to get underway:

Original scan (jpeg, 183KB)

Clear cut with blacked out sign (gif, 83KB)

Email your entry in either jpeg or gif format (ideally 500 pixels wide) to richard (at) sportreview dot net dot nz. You can also email me for the .PSD file of the above picture if you promise not to laugh at my pathetic photoshop skillz.

Points will be awarded for 1. being funny and 2. making Hayden look like a twat. See the entries after the jump…

Continue reading “Photoshop Matthew Hayden and win a crappy DVD”

Rugby voiceless

“Bill’s preparation was meticulous and involved a lot of card-play. He would shuffle a deck and flash through the cards, matching a player with a number. Having memorised the names, he then liked to watch the players in training, listening to them. It hurt him just before his retirement in 2002 that he was once denied access to an Australian training session. Professional rugby has not always been kind to the romantics.”

Guardian obituary of Rugby commentary legend Bill MacLaren – some of his best work was on Jonah Lomu Rugby


Kicking 2009 when it’s down

Doing a half-arsed wrap up of the year is becoming a tradition here on sportreview – here’s 2009.

If there was one week that summed up 2009 for me, it was seeing the All Blacks *cook* with Italy’s Next Top Model contestants in Milan in the most embarrassing and wooden photo op since Don Brash walked the plank, before our second string players participated in a shitty, shitty match at the San Siro, deeply marred by some shocking officiating from an experienced ref trying to enforce god knows what version of the rulebook is on top of the pile. Any Italians unfamiliar with Rugby watching the match would have found the oval ball code as appealing as toenail ravioli.

Earlier that day, New Zealand qualified for the Football World Cup in front of a crowd wholeheartedly supporting their team.

I don’t want to get into a Rugby v Football debate (although I think the nation’s office kitchens are going to be ringing with that mid year), but I really wish the first of these scenarios was more like the second – clear rules, supporting and having fun, and winning. That would do nicely.

Here’s my year, in sport, in and for me.

2009: big sport stuff

All Whites making the World Cup finals
All of a sudden it’s 1982 again. I’m sure I’m not the only one who this qualification kind of sneaked up on. I wasn’t paying that close attention to the qualifiers, and then suddenly we were two games away, and the whole country was going All Whites crazy and calling it ‘Football’. Wonders never cease. For a country used to grim, po-faced ‘support’ of its Rugby heroes, where Grizz Wylie’s statuesque pose when watching matches is seen as a model for manhood everywhere, not, perhaps more appropriately, something to lean on to keep warm, the Latin explosion of noise and color in the Caketin that night could change our country’s sporting landscape forever. Could. Anyway. We really have something to look forward to this year. Leg Break or ‘lucky git’ as he’s known around here, will be our man in the Guardian’s Fan thingo.

Black Caps
Can’t I just skip this? Andy Moles was out faster than a sneaky fart in a meeting room, and suddenly Dan is player, captain, coach, selector and god knows what else – we would be deeply fucked if we lost him at the moment. We got a little taste of how un-fucked we are without Shane Bond in Dunedin before going back to being just fucked without him.  Everything in my July 2008 Black Caps coach application still applies – we need two things – 1. John Wright and 2. a plan.

Chiefs make the Super 14 Final
Not sure how they got on after that, ah har har

The All Blacks.
We’re still South Africa’s bitches, but how long they can continue a coaching panel the equivalent of a Benny Hill chase scene, I don’t know. I only got to one match, the bitter bitter disappointment in Hamilton. NZ’s other national sport of kicking the All Blacks when they’re down is still alive and well. To me, there wasn’t a lot of difference between the way we played on the end of year tour and in the Tri Nations, it’s just we executed better, and playing against poorer quality sides up north would have helped. It’s still not going well, though, is it? The All Blacks’ 2011 preparations (and make no mistake, it’s ALL about 2011) is still in the ‘Hey! Let’s build a waterfront stadium!’ phase. Must try harder.

New Zealand cyclists kick the world’s arse
New Zealand cyclists had 15 world titles this year, and just this week, up and comer Jack Bauer outsprinted Tour De France riders Hayden Roulston and Julian Dean to win the national Road Race title. We’ve got cycling talent coming out our ears, and it’s looking all on on the track and the road for the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. Pro wise, this year’s Tour De France should be a ripper, with Alberto v Lance and the new Brit Sky team. Can’t wait.

2009: related highlights

I really enjoyed putting this together, there’s some great stuff in here, but NOT ENOUGH! I’m still accepting stalks team.

L&P take down
I wish more companies would piss me off so I could do This Kind Of Thing more often.

This is a lot of fun, and something I’m keen to do more of, if I can find a decent place to record them. The fist few have a certain charm, but the French preview one is where it hits its stride

The Herald showed some love

I won a copy of JRod’s first book

Best 2009 posts: Bowling through Wexford, Dan drops himself, Fight Club Duos, Keith Quinn on Twitter, Rattue joins the All Blacks, Tua / Cameron fight move, Bloggers at the Basin,

Best 2009 cartoons: Player Power, Dingo + shark, SuperDobbers, 18 and life to go,

Tech Talk with Phil Waugh – secretly probably my favorite thing I’ve done all year. Too weird?

2009: Rocking my world

Getting MySky
I CANNOT emphasise enough how much arse MySky kicks. Having long sent the VCR to the downstairs storage of doom, the ability to quickly ‘tape’ anything on a whim has changed my and sportreviewloveinterest’s lives. As a sport blogger, this means I can actually WATCH SPORT again – imagine that! It also means I can fast forward through the weather for the South Island – this makes me very happy indeed.

Starting a tumblr is a pretty low hassle way to make a neat site, and a great way to find new links and photos.

New Bike – conquered some sweet hills on this already.

Top 5 tracks in
1. The Kinks – This Time Tomorrow
2. Beck – Sing It Again
3. Ben Kweller – Thirteen
4. Harry Nilsson – Turn On Your Radio
5. The Velvet Underground – I Found a Reason

In The Loop, Avatar 3D. I didn’t see many movies released in 2009 this year.

Pathetic effort reading wise this year, due to watching too much iPod TV on the bus. I loved White Teeth and Cannery Row, while Man In Full made me very frustrated. Sport-wise, it was Summer 0f 49 and Tana‘s Up Close, continuing the All Black tradition of mildly revelatory bios after they’re safely retired.

So, another year down. I hope you all are enjoying the site, I really enjoy your comments and having some larfs, especially on the twitter. My personal sporting highpoint this year is watching sportreview jr, who’s 19 months now, kick a ball – he hits it hard. He’s going to break the back of some poor unsuspecting net one day.

Related: best of 2008, best of 2006 one, two

Open the Pod bay doors Colin

Top media pundit Colin Peacock of Sunday morning’s Mediawatch (and’s only radio appearance) went boldly where no Kiwi had ever been before, beaming into the Guardian Football Weekly pod to update James, Barry and Sean on the All White’s triumphant sneak to South Africa 2010.

Not only does Colin achieve sport nerd nirvana by appearing on the pod, he does the nation proud with self depreciation, pod protocol inside knowledge (Mee-lan) and by not rising to Jimbo’s ‘sheepish’ line. Nice work.

Here’s the show – Colin comes on at 26’50”.

Links on Friday: Roy Keane

Keano is a big sportreview favorite, for his Apocalypse Now style tacking, terrifying glower and for telling Mick McCarthy to ‘stick his world cup up his bollocks’, in an anatomically impossible yet impassioned outburst.

Here he is, aged 12, making a very nasty tackle, and here he is methodically settling a grudge that burned like deep heat in his undies for. Never mind starting an argument in an empty house, Keano can do it in the sanctum of the player’s tunnel.

Even as a manager, he’s an angry man, but I’m sure he’d know when to put an arm around a player.

For further Keano reading, here’s an amazing interview with Tom Humphries, who also covers Keane in his fantastic book Laptop Dancing Nanny Goat Mambo. Recommended.