Back to Bangers

So on my second trip away with the BLACKCAPS I went back to Bangladesh for the ICC World T20. Here’s what happened – you can click the photos to make them bigger.

From the moment you got off the plane and saw the WT20 signs throughout the airport, the streets lit up with millions of fairy lights and the masses of police and helpers buzzing around the hotel you felt you were in cricket central right at the moment. It was very exciting to be in the same place as all the teams, the ICC crew and the world’s media with a big event to get stuck into. The TV was wall to wall coverage of every warm up match with endless punditry. Even the ads were overwhelmingly cricket-related (friends, I wish I could have brought you all back a T20 biscuit).

A cut-down version of this song played at least three times in each commercial break.

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The view from the hotel in Dhaka. The BLACKCAPS shared with Pakistan, India, South Africa and England during the warm-up week, and with England at the Chittagong hotel. My ‘play it cool’ ability was severely tested when, say, JP Duminy got in the lift or I found myself next to Kapil Dev in the omelette bar queue. Dhaka traffic was at a hot, impatient stand still for much of the time we were there, so it was a relief to get down to Chittagong for the pool games (a city of just the 6.5 million people).

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The BLACKCAPS played a warmup against Pakistan at Mirpur, the venue for the  final, and one against Australia (who out-gunned me completely with three media / video / social people) here at Fatullah on the outskirts of Dhaka. This one wasn’t televised back home (much to the internet’s annoyance).

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The view from the hotel at Chittagong. Again, the team is pretty much in lockdown when staying here, with no scope to sight-see or even go for a wander down the street. Apart from venturing onto the field and dugout at games or training, you basically sit in air conditioning for a couple of weeks. It was a bit of a challenge to keep occupied to say the least, with films and TV series being copied from hard drive to hard drive at a rate of knots. Personally I got through a fair amount of Sopranos re-watching, and got into Deadwood, if you’re remotely interested (!).

The tennis-racquet-mosquito-zapper got a fair work-out.

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Spidercam was everywhere, as was DK Morrison.

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The two days the team spent training at MA Aziz stadium, which is a compact concrete affair, before the Netherlands match were the hottest I’d experienced on this trip or back in October. Fannying about with a video camera and, um, just standing there had me sweating buckets, so the chaps doing serious time batting and bowling in the nets were doing it tough.

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Drawing a crowd pulling out from Chittagong’s Hotel Agrabad.

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If you happened to be in your room mid-afternoon in Chittagong, you were offered complimentary snacks, and what fine snacks they were too. Food plays a big part in life on tour – you’re always watching what you have for fear of getting sick. Breakfasts are a long, leisurely affair – with so much time to kill, it’s a good way to catch up with everyone and yarn – everyone’s on their phones discussing news from home or bantering about sport (Ford Trophy, MLB and English football all feature). The team made several visits to Ambrosia, the wonderful restaurant with a menu thicker than most phone books.

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Being a big wuss, it was quietly moving to stand with the coaches and support staff during the national anthems. As any NZer who’s seen the All Blacks at Twickenham or the BLACKCAPS at the Oval knows, there’s nothing like supporting your team overseas and being a small part of the team somewhere so far removed from home was a thrill for me.

Of course, no-one was happy when the team came home early – this reaction from the skipper pretty much sums it up. While everyone hoped the South Africa match would not come back to haunt the team, in the end, it kind of did. Of course it was nice to come home early and see the family and eat NZ food again, I’d really wanted to go back to Dhaka for the semi finals and even a final as we all did, but it wasn’t to be. If you’re able, spare a thought for the team and support staff who then embarked on an almost 50 hour journey home, through Dhaka – Dubai – Bangkok – Australia – NZ.

While I hadn’t expected to find myself back in Bangers quite so soon after the last time there, and despite the early tournament exit, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the BLACKCAPS team and support staff and the challenge of the job over there. Living in cricket central was magic, if only for a couple of weeks.

If you’re up for more, read my tour reports at – part one and part two.


IT Center and Fast Food in Dhaka Airport is my kind of place.

Attempting to round up THAT summer

When the most contentious issue among New Zealand cricket fans is the ins and outs of the follow-on strategy, you know it wasn’t your usual summer. Most people struggled to remember a better one. My best bits:

28,000 people making noise at Eden Park in that tied third one dayer v India was quite something. It was vibrant and loud and really neat to be part of, it was a wonderful cricket match, obviously, but felt like a very Auckland occasion. More please.

As discussed, the Alternative Commentary Collective brought a sense of schoolboy humour, style and fun to the Indian ODI series, heightening the sense of surreality to the whole thing.

When people started swan-diving themselves over 1.2 metre high advertising hoardings or launching themselves face-first down banks that day in Queenstown, you knew this was going to be a winner. By the end of the summer, everyone had a favourite Tui Catch A Million near miss, whether it was the guy in Wellington snaked by his seat mate, the guy in the suit (whose catch was probably the best of all) or the bald guy who got smacked in the head with the ball at Eden Park and appeared delighted about it. And we actually got two winners, the second of which was immediately surrounded by a good-hearted mosh pit. It made the crowd part of the game, and it was fantastic.

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I enjoyed visiting Whangarei for the NZ XI v India match, it is a fab ground, with a little Lord’s replica for a pavilion. Make a trip.

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The emphasis on recognising and preserving team traditions like capping ceremonies for current and historic caps (and the return of the cable knit) is something I’m right on board with.

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Seeing the 92 World Cup team saunter around the boundary to the delight of the crowd was a great moment, considering everyone at home and on the park was blubbering last time they wandered around a boundary.

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The Test series win over India was special. Everyone knows what happened at Eden Park last year, and this year went to the wire again, but we bloody nailed it, in the kind of thrilling end to a Test that you watch through your fingers. At the Basin I tweeted after day three, when Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling’s partnership was only 158 of the 352 they went on to score, that it was one of the most satisfying day’s play I’d seen. Yes, I totally spoke too soon on that. Seeing everyone streaming in on that grey Tuesday morning, all hoping to be part of a bit of history and willing the skipper toward the big milestone was lump in the throat material and something I’ll be very proud to tell the kids about. Monumental.

On the field, where do you start? Ross Taylor’s batting all summer. Brendon McCullum’s double then triple tons.  The spectacular (one, two, three) catches. The relentless, crushing batting blueprint we rolled out against India that saw us score 300 or thereabouts in five successive matches, that India had no answer for. Corey Anderson’s whirlwind in Queenstown. The limo ride. Our bowling attack with great depth, for Tests and one dayers. Happy days.

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NZ Cricket Museum book sale: two thumbs up.

Magical not-much-mystery tour

In Australia, the dossier on the South Africans has got a lot of coverage, after being carefully couriered leaked to an eager Aussie media. The document seems to mainly prescribe:

a. short pitched bowling, and

b. sledging

…which makes you wonder if the jandal-lickers’ tactics have moved on since the days of Ian Chappell etc. It’s as innovate as wandering into the Aussie’s dressng room and shouting ‘everyone grow a moustache!’. Still, it should be a fantastic series for cricket lovers bored with watching Sri Lankan groundsmen moving covers about.

 Picture included mainly because of ‘how awesome is this?’

The All Blacks have been on a full on Scottish social media assault, instagramming the locals and digitally tweeting themselves hoarse. Gone are the days when All Blacks like Meads, Lochore or Murdoch would turn up in the mother country to glower at the press and organise a big pub fight before boarding the plane having not actually said *anything* over the two months’ tour.

The All Blacks’ end of year tour has fallen into a fairy comfortable routine now, we either do the ‘warm up by smashing a couple of easy beats, before playing Wales then England’ or the grand slam, which is pretty much the same thing. Australia and South Africa do the same, which must be pretty depressing for the about-to-play-the-Six-Nations locals. Imagine if some guys turned up and smashed us for a month just before we played the Rugby Championship. More depressing than being Clive Woodward I’d imagine.

I’ll leave you with Rod Stewart crying, probably the best sporting thing that actually happened this week:

Trolling through the issues

There’s a new dawn in Auckland. It’s not a second harbour crossing made up of trained dolphins ferrying commuters to the city on their backs (sounds cheap Mr Joyce!), or a ‘no arseholes’ rule in the Viaduct, set to transform the area into Tuesday night Invercargill main street within a week.

No, it’s the return of the prodigal son, world cup winner John ‘mad butcher’ Kirwan, back from Italy and Japan and, much to Twitter and headline writers’ amusement – the abyss.


The best thing for Kirwan is there’s no matches for almost a year – the feelgood factor the Blues could generate by not actually playing rugby could well last until twenty minutes into their first match in 2013.

I hope JK goes well – but posts like these and comments like these it’s clear the Warriors, who announced a series of youth programme and community initiatives last week are miles ahead in the having-your-shit-together metric. Except for on the field. No-one has their shit together there.

In rugby-teams-that-are actually-playing news, the sportreview-approved Chiefs go into Friday night’s big ‘clash’ as underdogs, thanks to the Crusaders’ cheating ways. In a DAMMING EXPOSE,’s EPIC TROLL Mark Reason details all the ways the Crusaders have CHEATED their way to seven titles, including:

Waiting in the car park before games to influence referees by beating them up.
‘Signalling’ at Bridge

If the Chiefs do overcome the CHEATING Crusaders and go on to win the title, the Chiefs players would no doubt run into the chicks from the Magic, who’d still be downtown on the daiquiris after winning the ANZ Netball Championship. If the Chiefs and the Magic were to go full-Mad Monday together, it could result in a generation of Waikato sporting superstars that would dominate the national sporting scene for decades to come.’s postion is: this must happen.

Epic troll is epic.

Sonny and Chur

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.

 Still best rugby stadium in NZ cc @chiefsrugby
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.

Mazy dribble

I’ve taken the family to the beach for a holiday and, in the absence of a Sky decoder, I’ve missed the Chiefs, Tottenham and Black Cap defeats, all of which came about in creative and disappointing fashions, according to their own individual circumstances. On the bright side, I have caught fish:

Productive #holiday

The highlight of my sporting week.

The South Africans are here, and after Martin Guptill tried to redecorate the upper reaches of the Cake Tin using his bat and the South African bowling attack in the first T20, things were looking up. Of any of the top teams in world cricket, we must fancy ourselves against the Proteas – they’re good but mentally flaky, kind of like the All Blacks were.

Because I’m on holiday, and because I haven’t been blogging much, here’s some links to keep you going:

Hadyn also picked up on the greatest rugby story ever written

Bill Murray hangs out with sports people – photo gallery with mostly golfers and basketballers

Lionel Messi never dives

Richard Hadlee makes Ian Botham look like a piece of cheese holding a cricket bat

Hot cliché on cliché action

This was a match that truly lived up to the clichés. The Dark Horses, plucky little New Zealand, punching above their weight and making the most of their meagre resources, up against South Africa, the supremely organised team that, faced with a pressure situation, become as effective as wet single ply in the face of a heavy curry house session the night previous. And choke.

The Black Caps showed they were prepared to win ugly; make no mistake, this was an ugly win, possibly up to full Ricky level on the Ugly-ometer:

Ugly scales up from L-R

For this match, made the rare effort to actually review some sport, sacrificing time that could have been spent unconscious to stay awake and watch the entire Black Caps innings. Taylor and Ryder played it safe to get us a reasonable total, but traditional one day tactics dictate the  ‘accumulation’ period usually lasts between overs 18 and 35. New Zealand’s accumulation period may be still going – it was an innings best described as ‘gelatinous’, but, on a pitch more dry and dusty than 48 hours in a Koru Lounge with Phil Goff, it would do. Then this happened:

In the cricketing equivalent of that Australian schoolkid chucking that bully about, the Black Caps surrounded Du Plessis, who’d just run out the competent De Villiers like schoolboys around a well worn copy of Playboy to let him know he’d fucked up, if he hadn’t worked it out already. The ensuing fracas lead to fines and bad examples for youngsters watching. Let’s have a look at the Black Caps’ crimes in slow motion:

Stryris and Vettori attempt to manoeuvre Du Plessis into training ground set-piece move ‘Black Cap sandwich’. 12th man Kyle Mills, who was just passing by, helpfully offers the South African a drink. Of choke-a-cola.
Du Plessis shoves Mills, in the process setting the game back years in the vital USA market, because nothing looks as ‘wussy’ as when cricketers fight, not even cyclists. Vettori tries to rescue the situation by telling Du Plessis to use his bat at least.
A garden gnome (in red) tries to restore order.
Styris and Du Plessis are nominated to kiss and make up on behalf of the sides by their captains, and play resumes.

Did the Safas choke? Well, a little bit. Maybe. But, they came up against a New Zealand team that discovered their self belief down the back of the couch, and used it to turn the heat on South Africa like Gordon Ramsay with a knife in each hand and sand in his undies; Stephen Fleming would have been proud.

For choking students, this match closely resembled the All Blacks’ loss to France in the 1999 rugby world cup semi final – decent team, handy lead, a few signs of life from the opposition, then folding like a cheap card table. Hard to take for the Proteas and to be honest, Kiwi sports fans should wait for the All Blacks’ next world cup performance (which is happening soon I hear) before throwing too much shit their way.

I was very pleased for Jacob Oram, who took some vital wickets and a stonking catch – he showed exactly how much we’ve missed him over the years, and how people who’ve criticised his place in the team are cocks.

Like much of the country I imagine, I went to bed after the first innings and awoke to a big surprise, roughly equivalent to a horse’s head in the bed. Considering our form going into this tournament, and the stumbles along the way, we can be very pleased with making the semis, especially as we knocked over a proper big team in the quarters to get there. Sri Lanka at home will be tough, but fuck it. Bring it on.

If you’ve made it this far, here’s more quarter final coverage, that’s better than what you’ve just read, to be honest:

The C-word – (check out the awesome comment on this post!)

Andy Bull’s Guardian sport blog

The Outside Edge – still pinching myself

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.

Choking and berserkers – how’s your world cup so far?

The Black Caps’ win over Pakistan has catapulted us from tournament also rans to the tournament’s Toxic Avengers. Ross ‘Rose’ Taylor celebrated his birthday by spending 30 overs looking more lost than Tony Grieg at a ‘knowing what the fuck you’re going on about’ conference, before launching into the Pakistan attack like it was his laptop during a heavy ‘tweeting’ session, and celebrating in the traditional manner.

In fact, if we grasp at straws hard enough and link Taylor’s innings and Irish legend Kevin O’Brien’s knock against England, we can call this the ‘berserker’ tactic. The equivalent of rugby’s ’99’ call, berserker use in cricket is a huge opportunity, and we could see soon teams sending their 12th man sprinting on with a bat in each hand to threaten the fielding side, in a move sure to be labelled the ‘Bracewell’.

The berserker – the future of cricket, or Graeme Smith relaxing in his hotel post-match?
Of course, after Pakistan’s Akmal let a golden Taylor chance go gleefully between himself and first slip, before clearing up any lingering doubt about his suitability to be an international ‘keeper by dropping Taylor all by himself, Some People On The Internet claimed ‘match fixing’. can exclusively reveal the only ‘fixing’ of the tournament so far occurred when the Black Caps played Zimbabwe and everyone had their bollocks chopped off.
But these are early days in this 18 month long tournament, and we’re yet to see a clear favorite emerge. England have been the entertainers so far, losing to Ireland, tying with India, and facilitating a South African choke. You know that when you’re among Englishmen behaving weirdly and South Africans choking, you’re not in a Brixton nightclub but a cricket world cup, team.
Predictions at this stage: Vettori to struggle on manfully despite losing one or more limbs in the Sri Lanka match; Kyle Mills to put his hand up for berserker role, claiming he’s been doing it for years already; England to default match against West Indies, missing the toss and circling the ground in a double decker bus instead while blasting the Benny Hill show theme; and to start watching a cricket world cup match and managing to stay up past the tenth over, in the prediction least likely to occur.

Of course, in other sporting news: