In these times of despair when the national team has lost the Ashes and all and sundry associated care more about keeping knifes from their backs than accepting responsibility - except maybe the coach, who rather cunningly put his hand up, blamed himself and endeared himself to everyone from Ponting upwards and in so doing, kept his income stream steady ... where was I?
Oh yes, in these times of despair, it is the Australian way to find someone else who is doing even worse and heap derision on them, as a means of feeling better about ourselves. All the better if they live across the ditch, all have girlfriends call Baaarbaraaaa and keep beating us at a favoured winter equivalent to cricket. No, its not the game they play in heaven, its the game they play in the off season.
Our sheep shagging brothers across the Tasman have just lost 0-2 from two against those lovely fellas from Sri Lanka who, a long time ago were most famous for tea and Kamahl but by this stage of their cricketing history has passed beyond such lofty achievements and have produced the crankiest and possibly fattest captain in Test history - although The Big Ship Armstrong might present a fair wrestle over a meat pie with Fattytunga - through to giving the cricketing world the most unusual, controversial and successful bowler of all time. Times have changed. In the early sixties, they legislated to get rid of bowlers called Charles but today, with political sensitivities the way they are and with all the money and power residing on the sub continent, we legislate to include them!
Actually, to say New Zealand lost is a gross exaggeration. In truth, they were flogged. Sri Lanka scored 400 plus in both their first innings and New Zealand only managed one total in four innings beyond 300 and then, only when their skipper Dan Vettori scored a heroic 140 batting up the order at 8. In fact, so bad are New Zealand, that Vettori is now considered an all rounder, although not apparently by himself, because he usually bats at 9. The century was no fluke, as Dan the Man scored 272 at 68.0 for the series and was also their top wicket taker with 10 wickets at 32.5.
Do I not rate the Kiwi skipper? Far from it. He's a fine cricketer but his status among NZ's best is what worries me. Admittedly the Sri Lankan series victory lifts them No 2 Test playing nation and yes, they have the remarkable Murali sending them down, all mystery and china plate eye balls and yes, the Sri Lankan batting line up on slower wickets is thick with stroke makers ... it's just that, how does a bowler of reasonable talent who bats with application but little else, became such a dominant force in the NZ side.
Vettori is at best a handy late order bat who plays straight. How can he bat four times in a losing side, mostly at 9, record those numbers without the benefit of not outs? The next best Kiwi batsmen averaged 39 (Taylor) and 31 (Ryder)? Likewise, Chris Martin 5 @ 43, Iain O'Brien 6 @ 53 and Jateel Patel 7 at 55 were all a long way behind their skipper in the bowling numbers.
If I were the Kiwi sellectors, apart from worrying how that ram is looking at my girlfriend, I'd be making sure security is taking good care of one Daniel Vettori. He should be travelling on a separate plane - preferrably QANTAS - because if New Zealand cricket ever has a Man United moment, they could afford to lose the other ten. Don't have Vettori with the rest of the mob (although they are unlikely to use that particular collective noun for fear of untimely arousal).
At least this quandary about how much worse the rest of the Kiwi cricket team are than their skipper and how much better our fallen Aussie side is than them, gives me something else to ponder about the land of the Long White Cloud. For the time being, at least, I can set aside other matters ... such as, how can a two hour flight create such differences between us, here in Dorothy's Land Of Oz and a group of people who can't conquer normal things like vowels and animal husbandry without making themselves sound queer?
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