Come on Aussie, come on

This blog is a counter-point to’s Why England post – we’re arguing about who New Zealand fans should support in this year’s Ashes.

The Ashes are inexplicably the Most Anticipated Test Series in cricket. It’s rarely close, and most of the world-class play and players have been provided by the Ockers in recent years, despite England’s awkward flirtation with competency for a while there.
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Deciding which of these great sporting nations to get behind is a real quandary for NZ sport fans.

Culturally, the series is an absolute ripper, with the moustachioed, swearing, we-drank-85-beers-each-on-the-plane-over-mate crowd from down under taking on Mother England in their own St John’s Wood Home Of Cricket in a game they invented, but have been pretty woeful at ever since.  This year’s series is harder than usual to predict with the World Champions looking strong as always, if slightly old and tired. They’re playing New England, fresh off an extraordinary series against our lot, showing an uncharacteristic rip, shit and bust approach.

So who to support if you’re a New Zealander? Again, this series is going to be starting at really good viewing / tweeting times for the NZ couch / TV / laptop crowd – Graeme has already made the case for getting behind England, but here’s (gulp) the case for supporting Australia. And having a really thorough shower afterwards.

First, it’s better for the BLACKCAPS if Australia wins. We are fourth in the world in Tests with 99 points, while England are just two points behind on 97 in sixth. We get to have a crack at the jandal-lickers (who are second on 111 points) in five Tests this summer, so have plenty of chances to haul them in. Also, if Australia get through an Ashes summer with the creaky / old Clarke / Haddin / Watson crowd, there’s a better chance they’ll get picked to play us, and I fancy our chances against them.

You also have to factor in that England are feckin’ unbearable when they win. Queen Victoria, who has been dead for over a century, is sick to the back teeth of whizzo tales of 2005 and how Freddy hugged Brett Lee that time, and then was drunk on an open topped bus, and it was KP wot won it at the Oval. If England won it again, having been pummeled in Australia last time, you’d never, ever, hear the end of it.

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If we can get over the under arm, surely the poms can get over 2005.

Conversely, England losing at cricket is my favourite thing on Twitter. From the snippy, stiff upper lip gallow-tweeting from the press box, to the fans who veer between ‘we’re the new 1980s West Indies’ to ‘we’re worse than Micronesia’, often in the space of a few overs, this is Twitter entertainment at its finest. If things don’t go to plan in the first Test or two, the ‘Bring back KP’ drums will provide a snappy backbeat to the misery and woe.

But let’s be clear – you don’t have to like or even respect the Australian players in order to want them to win. Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Shane Watson, David Warner, etc have a long track record of the idiotic and rude, encompassing bad sportsmanship and a criminal lack of humility, self awareness and irony.

You won’t get any argument from me that they’re hard to love, but some – some – of them are great to watch. Mitchell Starc, even though he annoyingly bowled our skipper third ball in the World Cup final, is a top fast bowler and top viewing. Same goes for Steve Smith. Same would have gone for that noble Rhino Ryan Harris, but for his body letting him down at the final hurdle.
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Haddin – yes, it’s OK to think he’s a dickhead.

Anyway. It should be a cracking series and we can watch safe in the knowledge that the BLACKCAPS ae riding a wave of performance and personnel and playing the best brand of cricket going at the moment. These aren’t aspirational teams for us, these are our peers. Let’s take the high road and get behind our trans-Tasman cousins, if only for purely selfish reasons.

Chappell v Botham fight pathetic – eyewitnesses

NEWSDESK: Eyewitnesses said last night’s square off between ex-international cricketers Ian Botham and Ian Chappell was “a real let-down” and “gravely embarrassing” for both participants. Chappell, 67, reportedly sparked the fracas by insulting Botham, 55, in the Adelaide Oval carpark at the close of day’s play. “All I could hear was panting. I actually feared for my hearing,” said a bystander. “Two  out of shape slugs having it out over a piece of lettuce would have been a more absorbing spectacle.”

Botham and Chappell last came to blows during an Ashes series in 1977, when both men were far more accustomed to physical exertion. “I wish I’d seen that one,” said a car park attendant. “Chappell had a lot of anger, but not much stamina. He just kind of fell over after a few seconds. At one stage Botham threatened him with some chutney he had in his man bag. Chutney. It’s a fight, not a feckin cheese board.”

Book review: When Freddie Became Jesus

Cricket With Balls’ Jarrod Kimber has written his second book – Ashes 2009: When Freddie Became Jesus (links to, for free delivery for most of the world).

Mostly, there’s too much Cricket in Cricket books – if we wanted to read a match report, we’d dial up CricInfo, you know. JRod skillfully runs through each test session by session, but throws in just enough jokes, offensive language and base innuendo to make it compelling reading.

On the NPower promotional girls: “Guys trying to pick up promotional girls is about the saddest thing you can see, like Hotel Rwanda followed by a news report on buring puppies.”

On ‘Random’ Rudi Koertzen: “Sometimes I think  he gives himself extra time by raising his finger slowly just so he can surprise himself.”

For me, the book’s peak is around the Lord’s test, from the scene from the press box, to almost killing Richie Benaud using Swine Flu, to a hilarious conversation between Rudi Koertzen and Billy Bowden (Are you sure, or do we need to go upstairs, Billy? There are no stairs here, Rudi.), to the most sublime writing about mass vomit since Stand By Me.

It’s also the story of HIS Ashes, his first in England as a writer; what the series means to him, his impending wedding and going to the Oval with his family – this backstory makes the book richer, without getting all Nick Hornby about it.

It’s well documented that JRod’s mission to turn himself into a Proper Cricket Writer from a standing start impresses the fuck out of me – WFBJ is a big step up from his first book. Buy a copy now, so you can bore your kids about him when he’s editing Wisden or sticking his keys in a pitch on the telly. Highly recommended.

Don’t steal this book

This is the excerpt of your first post template…

Cricket With Balls’ Jarrod Kimber has already given the world one book, and now he’s turned the 2009 Ashes series into another – Ashes 2009: When Freddie Became Jesus.

Jarrod is well on his way to achieving his goal of being a Proper Cricket Writer. Obviously he’s writing about Cricket now, and bringing more filthy language and sex to the old game than an Ian Botham trip around the West Indies, but the thing I admire (as I’ve covered before) is that he’s fucking out there doing it. He’s moved halfway around the world to live in London, covered the Ashes from the couch, the grounds and the press box in fine style on the site, and he now has book on Amazon only a couple of months after stumps were drawn.

That’s good going. Here’s an excerpt. The Black Caps’ favorite blogger and premature retiree Ian O’Brien even gets to write a bit. You should really buy one.