Australia’s threats to success

Mike Hussey says the Black Caps are one of four threats to Australia’s World Cup winning chances, along with South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

I think there are more than four, in fact any number of things could derail the green ‘n’ canary yellow machine – I’ve had a look into the SRNZ crystal ball and made a list:

– John Buchanan’s military style team bonding camp shortly before departure turns ugly when Adam Gilchrist is discovered hung by his ears from the mess hall doorway, in a bizarre ‘Lord Of The Flies’-style pagan ritual
– Brett Lee is bought on tour to share his experience with younger players, but his moping, loud sighing, and mumbling “Didn’t wanna play anyway” and “You guys bowl farkin’ slow” prove a body blow to team morale
– Unpleasant scenes when Hussey refuses to relinquish captaincy duties to Ricky Ponting and has to be physically dragged from the coin toss against Zimbabwe in convulsions
– Press conference descends into brawl when Ricky Ponting lunges at an Aussie journalist asking why the team is so crap and maybe if his name was Steve Waugh they’d be better. The team is banned from talking to the press, adding to atmosphere of paranoia
– New Channel 9 commentator Shane Warne takes room across the street from team hotel. Wild Red Stripe-fuelled all night partying ensues followed by prolonged, loud ‘text messaging’ sessions, making meaningful sleep an impossibility
– Dreadlocked cricketing superstar Andrew Symonds falls in love with West Indian way of life and goes AWOL on the second day of tour. Is found three weeks later dazed and confused and playing bass in local sound system outfit. Symonds is reunited with the squad only to fail a random drug test and is subsequently banned for the remainder of the World Cup. When asked for comment, he cryptically explains “I am the Ganja man”
– Mitchell Johnson

"Lord, the Black Caps totally rocked my world"

A Mormon missionary stands on your door step and talks you through the recent Chappell-Hadlee series to establish rapport. G’day my main mate.

Did you catch the big cricket games in the weekend, amigo? Lemme tell ya – I sucked back a few Banana Primos watching that one.

Matthew Hayden? The Aussie’s lead off guy? His hitting was SICK! In the time out I was all “there’s no way these Kiwis are coming back” man, they are lower than a punctured bike tyre, and but I was so wrong. I hadn’t been that excited since the last America’s Cup. Wait. No, I wasn’t excited about that. That sucked. Dang.

Craig MacMillian? He was TOTALLY in my face. Eh. How many homers did that guy hit? BAM! And Shane Bond, man, when he comes in with his fast ball me and the fellas at the dorm were too psyched. We we rockin’ man, you should have been there – Elder Zach had to come down to our room and at first he was all “You guys simmer down”, and we were all “No way Jose, this game’s going right to the bottom of the ninth, you gotta get down with the Cricket” and he was all like “Whoah – these Kiwis are kicking some SERIOUS hiney” and soon he was chugging on Banana Primos like he was one of the guys. We still took a lickin’ the next morning, but we were high on cricket, dude. And God.

Man, I can’t wait to tell the guys back in Salt Lake City about cricket, they show it on ESPN 5. Baseball? No-one’s gonna care dude, I’m a total wicket head now, I swear. Eh.

Links on Friday

– Is it only me or is this ad for the Skycity Starlight Symphony just utter, utter filth? You know what I’m talking about. Some copywriter guy is just LAUGHING at us all
– After Macca’s 67 ball century on Tuesday, check out Afridi’s all time record fastest century – in THIRTY SEVEN balls, no less
German baby boom nine months after Football World Cup. This makes me so happy. Will we have a crop of All Black babies after France 2007 RWC?
I thought these shots from Tiger were pretty good but then I saw this – Holy Shit
Hot Fuzz’s Simon Pegg interview – NZ release date is 15 March I CAN”T WAIT THAT LONG
A football halftime pep talk given by someone who knows nothing about football—namely, me – this is about possibly the most humour free sport going, American Football, but it’s still funny

Completely Hysterical Chappell Hadlee

In this series New Zealand have been like Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees – just when you think they’re finally dead they’ll come flying back at you through a screen door – the Australians will be bleeding and wounded after visiting this trans-Tasman Camp Crystal.

Game one, Westpactrust Stadium
I missed it. Bond strolled through Australia’s batsmen like he was desperate to catch the 6.00 news, but this humiliation was over too quickly, like getting to the bar five minutes before it closes. I prefer a more prolonged encounter. Luckily…

Game Two, Eden Park
… we got one. In 676 runs scored on Sunday, most of the boundary hitting was a pull / sweep (at the Sandringham Rd end) or cover drive (from the Terraces end) over that boundary in front of the South Stand. This (very) short boundary is international cricket’s equivalent of a straight drive to the back fence or square cut into the lemon tree in backyard cricket – a safe target that guarantees a result. Eden Park is starting to look more and more like what it is, a rugby ground that grumpily allows cricket to be played on it, it’s just the wrong shape and too small for the summer game – all scoring shots are either singles or boundaries. Hussey and Hodge’s batting meant we had a huge chase, but we went after it with all the cool calm composure of Richard Hadlee doing his tax return, with Taylor laying a solid foundation so MacMillian and Fulton could get us home. I can’t think of a better way to spend a cloudless Auckland day than a trip to the beach for a laze and a swim, then parking on the couch to see us humiliate the Aussies and win the series. This was GLORIOUS stuff – Monday should have been a national holiday.

Game Three, Seddon Park
At 2-0 down, there’s a kind of desperation about this Australian side, made up of up-and-comers instead of the legendary been-there-done-thats like we’re used to. The crowd really struggled to find a familiar target for their songs of sexuality speculation, no Warne, Waugh or McGrath meant a severe star shortage. I didn’t see Hayden’s innings, but this ground (now the pitch is OK again) is made for big scores, with its short boundaries, lightening outfield and the special atmosphere created by Hamilton’s finest screaming their lungs out after a day’s peer pressurised drinking in the sun with very little to eat – god I wish I had been there. MacMillian’s comeback is almost complete, with his fantastic innings bringing us back from 41-4, when I thought we were pretty much poked. McCullum is now one of the very best lower order batsmen in the world, he knows how to push ones and rotate the strike, as well as hit boundaries – I happily squealed like the child I am when he hit the first ball of the final over for six, leaving us one to win. The one two punch of Eden Park and Hamilton is like finding $20 on the ground and then finding $100 underneath it – just magic.

The Aussies now go home to face the music from their press – I liked this from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Every Australian loss on this tour was record-breaking in its own, depressing way. In Wellington, Australia suffered their first-ever 10-wicket loss. In Auckland, they surrendered the then second-highest successful run chase in one-day history, losing the No.1 ranking in the process. And in Hamilton last night, they usurped their previous effort by losing to a new second-highest run chase, pushing the Auckland result into third place. Australia have now conceded the world’s four largest successful run chases in the space of a year – three against the New Zealanders – and seem in a worrying state of disrepair less than a month out from their opening game at the World Cup.

Unfortunately for Australia, it’s only a couple of short weeks until touch down in one of the most unforgiving cricketing environments going (in fact, most cricketing environments are unforgiving, like Hamilton. Especially Hamilton). Yes they’ll have Ponting and Gilchrist back, but the rest look like boys, not men.

And what chance New Zealand at the big show? Who knows, trying to predict how we do is like Gerry Bownlee’s diet – fairly fruitless. There’ll be plenty of time for worrying about the World Cup soon, so for the moment let’s (3-0) just (3-0) enjoy it. 3-0. Ahem.


Fishy fishy

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Fishy fishy, originally uploaded by richirvine73.

I hauled this one out of the harbour this morning before work. I think I’ll call him Nathan Bracken.

Links on Friday

Four minutes of Glenn Hoddle – yes he might be a religious nutter these days and a not very good manager, but he could really play. Relive those Sunday mornings watching Big League Soccer with the English Platini
ANOTHER stadium plan for Auckland – I like the cheeky Paris mention – but then Paris-style planning on a large scale would be a step in the right direction
Graham Reid’s Auckland walk – very thoughtful piece lamenting the tumble-weed infested area the above lot want to stick a stadium on. And yes, Queen St is a hole at the moment
Brial v Bunce – This little incident from way back when the Tri Nations was new and exciting always makes me laugh – “Hey! Frank! I’m hitting you! Pay attention!”
Hell on Wheels – is a documentary on the Tour De France – highly recommended
Competitive Horse Riding Rule Book – it’s funny ‘cos it’s true

Annoying bloke in pub talks you through the Black Caps World Cup squad

G’day Mate. Here by yourself? Same here.

What are ya reading? The paper? I don’t bother, eh.

Got the sports section? Didja see they announced the Cricketers for the World Cup? Pack of girls, yinnow.

Shit, I’ve got pie on me.

The Aussies bloody laugh at us. Mate, they’ve got guys averaging 300 in domestic cricket that can’t make the team, yinnow? And a guy that bowls at 200 Ks. I’m moving to the Gold Coast next year, my cousin reckons it’s choice. Piss is cheaper there, eh. You get all the rugby on TV, too. You’re quiet, eh mate?

Tuffey got picked. Fark’s sake. Remember when he bowled that over for 38 at Eden Park? Farkin’ embarrassment. I could do better. You should’ve seen me in high school. Would’ve made First XI but for that FX82 going missing. Fark you like reading that paper, eh? Mate?

Quizzers with attitude

This lot, known as Katz FB…

…won the jackpot and a $175 bar tab in the Pub Quiz last night for knowing that Dolly Parton wrote ‘I Will Always Love You’, Richard Adams wrote ‘Watership Down’ and that Jack Dempsey is the Manassa Mauler.

And we did it all by being stupid.

The Second Coming

Shaun of the Dead is probably the film I loved most in the last ten years. It’s got Zombies, and it’s got moronic humor, a winning combo for a simple man such as I. Shaun (Simon Pegg) and Ed (Nick Frost) are slackers and best mates who devise a genius plan to ride out the Zombie infestation in the pub. Their easy humor, combined with Edgar Wrights’ knowing direction made this a real winner for me.

And now the team is back, with Hot Fuzz, which does for police patrolling sleepy English villages what SOTD did for Zombies. It looks fantastic, and I’m quivering with anticip…ation to see it. Here’s the Youtubed trailer:

If you’re after more Pegg / Wright action, track down Spaced (no, you can’t borrow my copies), and promisingly, IMDB shows their next project might be La Triviata, a sitcom about Pub Quizzes, a subject close to my heart.