Walk in the park

My little walk through Victoria Park was stunning this AM

The Herald went big on Jeremy Wells‘ ‘Victoria Park as a cricket test venue’ proposal on Saturday with Steve Deane and Dylan Cleaver chipping in with editorials, and an epic ‘your views’ page. Let’s not mess this up – this is a fantastic proposal. We’re now a city with no central city sporting venue AT ALL (OK, Vector aside), and this proposal would bring crowds of happy, thirsty sports folk into the CBD without *too* much disruption and give test cricket a unique setting. The alternative options for test cricket (Eden Park, bloody ALBANY!) excite me as much as a ‘Danny Morrison, life coach’ audio book.

The Herald’s commentators berated the recently released city stadium discussion document for its very lack of vision – Auckland’s stadiums are beset by underinvestment, location and self interest issues and this document does little to sort that out. Set that against the example of the Gold Coast’s Skilled Park, a replica of Brisbane’s FANTASTIC Suncorp Stadium, only with one tier. When there’s demand for more capacity, they’ll simply build another tier on top, and she’ll be right, Bruce. As an Auckland sports fan and ratepayer, that’s the kind of vision I’d have liked to see in the vision document. In the absence of leadership from the city’s leaders, let’s help make Victoria Park happen.

Teh rugby
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the All Blacks’ two tests so far. The first one, cos the new look All Blacks, with a patented mix of youth ‘n’ experience WASTED the Irish, and looked bloody good. The second, because it was close, and we still won. Of course, as a former resident of the Republic, I was gutted for Ireland they couldn’t get over the line – but not *that* gutted. A key part of my personal arrogant All-Black-supporting folklore is that teams like Ireland and Scotland have never beaten us, so I took it in my stride. Still, I was unimpressed that with some NZ fans on Twitter ‘going for’ the Irish. I’m all for sportsmanship, but this is unacceptable. Support your world champion national team, we’ve been waiting to be able to say that for a while now, let’s make the most of it. Sound poo-covered jandal beatings all around.


For the All Blacks, everyone has played well, generally, but I’m most excited about Aaron Smith, the passing number nine. We’ve been down the ‘halfback as extra loose forward’ path for so long now – but with Marshall, Kelleher at half back, not to mention Andrew Hore, Ali Williams, the Franks, as well as arguably Conrad Smith, we’ve actually wound up with about 23 loose forwards on the park at a time. So, this return to simpler times where the half back actually clears the ball in a timely fashion is a welcome one and the backline looks better for the extra time and space. Next few years will be interesting when Smith and TJ ‘chosen one’ Perenara go head to head for the spot.

Oh, and three test-series. I like them, let’s have one every year.

You should really pick up this month’s Metro. Steve Braunais takes the most thoughtful look at the Blues’ season I’ve seen (great to see SB writing about sport again – still waiting for the football book!), and Donna Chisholm investigates concussion in our contact sports. The first thing I turn to though, is Duncan Greive‘s (of friend-of-sportreview Deadball, among other things) sport page – a pithy run through of things that matter and things you probably didn’t know. I’m very pleased to see Duncan contributing longer pieces, like the excellent Dylan Boucher piece a couple of issues back. Like I say, recommended.

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.

Smith disgusted with everything

SRPA: Popular commentator Ian Smith pulled no punches after Wednesday’s Grant Elliot run out controversy. “I’m absolutely disgusted at Paul Collingwood’s decision making. To think this guy is captaining England, birthplace of the game… it really makes you wonder. That kind of thing has no place in the international game” said Smith, adding he wouldn’t mind smashing Collingwood’s face in.

When asked about the Kiwi’s chances of taking the series at Lords he commented “Hold your horses. The Black Caps’ lack of sportsmanship after the match was sickening, I almost  vomited kebab all over Mike Atherton, it was that bad. That kind of thing has no place in the international game”.

Being disgusted at both teams over a single incident is new territory for Smith, but one he’s comfortable with. “Look, I’m fucking disgusted on a daily basis. If I can’t be deeply, deeply critical of one team or player, no worries, I’ll be gravely disappointed with everyone, if that’s the way they want it.”Smith was also greatly offended by a lack of eclairs at the afternoon buffet, and his taxi ride home at the conclusion of play.