Posts Tagged ‘new zealand’
As ever the Cricket World Cup is shaping up to be another slough of despond for England fans. With most of the action happening in the small hours it’s tempting just to ignore it completely, but if we must follow it then maybe it’s best to manage expectations. Personally I’m going to judge England’s performance against the standards of my own team, a friendly side that plays around six games a summer.
First of all it was good to see that all England players turned up on time. No-one got caught in traffic or slept in too late and Eoin Morgan wasn’t forced to bat first while he waited for half his team to pitch up. Everybody looked smart. All players were wearing trousers. There seemed to be enough kit to go around. There were no delays while incoming and outgoing batsmen exchanged boxes and similarly all batsmen were padded up ready to go in. Which was a good job. There was a new ball for each innings, in fact there were two new balls for each innings which is outstanding.
Someone took a hat-trick. A hat-trick! That makes them a shoe-in for the Bowler of the Year award at the end-of-season dinner, largely because that will be the only thing anyone can remember when voting. Someone else nearly scored a hundred. That is unheard of. Only a few catches were dropped. Not half bad.
Fundamentally England were able to field eleven players. Some of whom looked as if they could bat better than they could bowl and some of whom who looked as if they could bowl better than they could bat. And some of them, well, some of them were at least there. It was encouraging to see that there seemed to be three or four other people on the sidelines who looked like they might able to step in if later in tournament one of the regulars withdraws citing a prior hitherto unmentioned commitment or a sudden early-morning “migraine”.
So there are plenty of positives to take from the game and apparently they serve a really good tea at Wellington, where the next game is. Onwards.
It’s always embarrassing when you turn up at a party and someone is wearing the same dress as you. Especially if you are a man.
Due to a momentary miscommunication my mum and mother-in-law were a credit card swipe from buying outfits in the same colour for my recent wedding. Had the transaction been completed then we obviously would have had no option but to postpone our nuptials until an alternative outfit could be sourced for one of the pair.
A similar sartorial collision is looming at the Rugby World Cup. England have peered into their wardrobe and picked out a little black number to use as their away kit. Which clashes with the home strip of the host nation New Zealand, the All Blacks. Apparently they wear all black as well.
Jonah Lomu has a problem with this. He says it’s disrespectful to New Zealand players. It seems only Kiwis are allowed to wear black. You have been warned all you funeral-goers, Benedictine monks and emos – expect a spear tackle very soon.
Perhaps we can accuse Lomu of being a little dramatic. It’s not as if England are wearing shirts embroidered with the slogan “New Zealand are Rubbish Idiots” and I am as certain as I can be that they are not planning to wear black should they come up against the hosts.
If every national sporting side was so possessive about their chosen colours then we’d have to invent new colours and I can’t think of any off the top of my head. So let’s just agree that England can wear black when necessary and New Zealand whenever they like. They can also do their funny little dance before the game too.
Italy are defending champions. The man who led them to that success is back in charge. Seven of that side are back in the squad. They remained unbeaten during their qualifying campaign. Yet no-one fancies them this time round. No flair apparently. There’s no Francesco Totti for a start. He announced that he was willing to come out of international hibernation following the return of the prodigal Lippi. I presume Totti is still in Italy staring plaintively at his mobile, wondering if it would seem too desperate the send the manager a text.
New Zealand beat Serbia last month in a friendly, only the second time in their history that they have vanquished European opposition (they also beat Georgia in 2006). The ignominy of this was not lost on the watching Serbians who registered their dissatisfaction by chucking burning stuff at their team. The All Whites (they’re like the All Blacks but play in white) play two European sides in the group stages so have the potential to double their tally.
Slovakia will be looking to make an impression on the competition in order to step from the shadow of their more successful neighbours, the Czech Republic. Also tired of being confused for Slovenia. The correspondent in the Evening Standard the other day compiled a handy analysis of the threat of the Slovakian squad as England’s group opponents. Maybe that’s Slovenia being confused for Slovakia. I don’t know. It’s confusing.
Paraguay’s firepower will be severely diminished by the loss of Salvador Cabanas, their top scorer in qualifying. He got shot in Mexico. He was still hoping to travel to the World Cup, but doctors told him that it was not possible due to the bullet still being lodged in his head. Bloody doctors. The Paraguayans will now rely on the striking talents of Roque Santa Cruz, who has not been shot recently. Even though he lives in Manchester.
Continuing our build-up to the Twenty20 World Cup in the Caribbean, and having cast my eye over Group A last night, it seems sensible to carry on alphabetically with Group B. Given that I was able to make no conclusions about the fate of the A teams, this probably isn’t worth reading, but here it is anyway:
Sri Lanka are good. They reached the final last year, thanks in no small part to Tillakaratne Dilshan and his funny little scoop shot. Since then he has grown an equally funny little beard. It’s sculpted to look as if he’s been dribbling Marmite and it seems to have pre-occupied him to the detriment of his batting, judging by his IPL form. Muralitharan and Jayasuriya have 77 years between them and have obviously signed some pact for eternal youth with the devil.
New Zealand never really threaten to achieve anything in these tournaments but they’re never completely embarrassing either. If the team was a global clothes store then they’d be Gap. Serviceable, uninspiring and above all, beige. Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder are the pink floral print board shorts in the rack of charcoal grey action slacks.
World take note, Zimbabwe are BACK. I know, things will never be the same again. This time they’re coached by Alan Butcher, who last time I checked was being swept aside by the revolution of crap at Surrey. Will go head-to-head with Afghanistan in the contest to be the representatives of the most strife-ridden country.
Prediction: I don’t know again.
So the prodigal sport returns. It’s hardly surprising that cricket’s accountants have suggested to move the whole shooting match over to the land of fat sporting nuts with even fatter wallets. The States is the cradle of the international game after all, the first fixture being played in Manhattan 170 years ago between the home team and Canada.
What is vaguely extraordinary is that this impromptu New Zealand – Sri Lanka series has not found its home like a nesting cuckoo in an athletics stadium or a ballpark but in a 20,000 capacity ground at Broward County, in the heart of the Everglades in Florida. A ground designed specifically for cricket.
I had no idea that there was a need for such an amenity among the indigenous population of gators in the Sunshine State. I don’t recall that little boy from Gentle Ben sharpening up his forward defence with some throwdowns with his bear. Or Will Smith going to Miami to buy a new Grey Nicholls Dynadrive.
To be honest it suggests the blurry thinking of a Costneresque farmer hearing strange voices out his field telling him to “build it and they will come”. They meant a baseball stadium.
Although to be fair they did come. Twice since the ground was built in 2007. Once for a international competition of veterans such as Javed Miandad and Richie Richardson. The other occasion was the Martin Luther King Twenty20 featuring local players. We knew that King had a dream. We didn’t know it was to have a very minor limited overs cricket tournament named after him.
Having watched most of the Twenty20 through a pop-up window at my desk, I felt very fortunate to take my seat on the pavilion balcony at the Oval to sample it first-hand yesterday. Here are a few things that I learnt:
1. With Chris Gayle’s fluoro-shades and the equally luminous sweatbands worn by the quick bowlers, the West Indies are definitely the most nu-rave team in international cricket. They really should come out to bat to the Klaxons.
2. Younus Khan speaks with the cadence of an agitated racing commentator. He also looks a lot like DS Don Beech from The Bill. But I knew this already.
3. A scantily-clad young female cavorting lasciviously whilst draped in the Pakistani flag seems a bit wrong.
4. Well done to Surrey who won their first County Championship match in nearly two years. I actually learnt that today by looking at the internet on my phone while on a picnic with my parents but I feel it needs to be said.
5. The Yahoo yodelling jingle that accompanies every change of bowler maybe the worst excess of the commercialisation of cricket, but it is strangely entertaining.
6. The ICC need to hire a PA announcer that doesn’t sound so sinister when declaring to the crowd that “all the children are very welcome today”.
7. The dubious novelty of the Mexican Wave. It is popular not only with England fans. Happily after a few abortive attempts, the crowd seemed to give up on it. I think this is because, like water down the toilet, the Mexican Wave goes counter-clockwise in New Zealand. The opposite to everywhere else. So after a few awkward occasions when they just waved at each other, it was put to one side.
8. Twenty20 is more than just great fun. But it doesn’t compare to a Test Match.
I was recently assured by a disingenuous associate that Dermot Reeve had emigrated to New Zealand to open a pharmacy following his retirement from cricket. I took him at his word, revelling in the vague poacher-gamekeeper scenario.
Frankly it’s a laughable notion that Reeve should settle for a life peddling paracetamol to poorly Kiwis. But my gullibility is excusable given the register of unforeseen career-changes among some of his fellow cricketers.
Politics seems like a popular choice at the career office. Imran Khan formed his own party in Pakistan. Manoj Prabhakar stood for the Indian parliament. And it seems that cricketing politicians are as Caribbean as reggae music and Lilt: Learie Constantine, Sir Wes Hall, Roy Fredericks, Sir Frank Worrall and latterly Desmond Haynes have all taken some form of higher office in the West Indies.
Charles Burgess Fry lost three General Election campaigns running as a Liberal candidate and didn’t become King of Albania but the CB CV is a famous read: England cricket captain, long-jump world record holder, international footballer, teacher, editor, writer and all round jolly good polymath. And his party piece was to leap backwards on the mantlepiece. But hey, we’ve all done it.
Kapil Dev had a swing at the golf lark, went into the floodlight business and just last year became Lieutenant Colonel Dev of the Indian Territorial Army. Of course he did.
The list continues like a game of Happy Families: Mr.Hayden the cook, Mr. Croft the pilot, Mr.Russell the artist, and ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Mervyn Hughes, travel agent and actor. The latter seems as fanciful as Reeve Chemists but apparently Merv played a small role in a high-octane comedy actioner called Fat Pizza.
Musicians abound at the old cricketer’s home. Curtly Ambrose and Richie Richardson hooked up over a couple of Lilts to create a reggae band. Shane Watson, AB de Villiers and Brett Lee are all preparing for life after cricket by tuning up their guitars, learning their chords and practising in their garages with their bandmates. Lee has even had time for a change of musical direction. This will never wear thin:
Arguably though the best gig for the senescent cricketer is reality television. The chances of success are high.
Phil Tufnell was the pioneer, wading into the jungle to wrestle with ballet dancers and weathergirls and sneak off with the I’m A Celebrity laurels. TV Tuffers cast off the sullen self-doubt he often displayed as a cricketer and presented himself to the nation as a twinkly cheerful type with an appetite for woodlice.
Darren Gough and Mark Ramprakash both found their feet on the dancefloor. They triumphed in consecutive years on Strictly Come Dancing and thus created a minor cricketing monopoly on the show. Gough put aside a shaky cha-cha-cha in the first week to haul his burly, bingo-winged frame across the floor and into the viewer’s affections.
Ramps was a natural dancer from the outset, but his appeal was mainly founded in his growth from shy and retiring type to a sexual god of the samba as Arlene would say. Except that he didn’t retire: carrying on to collate thousands upon thousands of runs.
Mark Butcher represents the sole cricketing failure in the world of reality television, coming up just short during the BBC singing contest Just The Two Of Us. His loss is forgiveable. A talented singer who had the misfortune of being paired up with Sarah Brightman. Brightman has the look of a blow-up doll, and her voice sounds like she is slowly deflating. Her incessant trill simply drowned out Butcher’s bassy tones.
Bad luck Butch. But at least you’re not in the pharmaceutical trade like Dermot Reeve. Or Chris Lewis…