2. Tim McIntosh using that let-off to carry his bat for one of the most dour, but necessary half centuries we’ve seen from a New Zealander in some time. Maybe since another un-flashy opener named Mark Richardson retired. His 62 off 210 balls won’t have given Sehwag any nightmares, but here finally it looks like we might’ve found an opener who values his wicket as highly as he should.
3. Iain O’Brien’s six wicket bag, including Gayle with his first ball and first-test trouble-maker Taylor for a worryingly quick 17. He doesn’t look like a test cricketer, O’Brien, but the way he charges in any surface makes your heart sing. This was a 400-500 pitch, so we’ve got a good shake here if a few of our heavyweights can come off.
4. Also – and this speaks to what David was complaining about a few days back – Iain O’Brien’s blog is a pretty fascinating read, and one clearly not subject to any interference. As a New Zealand sports fan it’s rather bewildering to read one of our representatives thoughts in this context. Aren’t those things supposed to be on the NZC website, about three lines long and written by some intern from Takapuna who gets it approved by three different PR people (but not O’Brien, obviously) before it goes live? Mind you, with New Zealand Cricket’s current administrative woes maybe they just don’t know about it…
5. Over the pond, South Aftrica are more than making a fight out of the first test against Australia. Smith’s ton, against an opponent which has long troubled him, sees them chasing 187 runs with 7 wickets in hand. You wouldn’t call it yet, not with Mitchell Johnson already with a 10-for – and 414 would be the second-highest run chase of all time – but damn, wouldn’t that be a phenomenal start to the summer?
6. OK so the England-India game’s not quite as well-poised as either of the other two, but after the last test’s heroics you can allow both sides a little down-time. The main thing to be pleased about is that we’ve got three competitive test series in progress simultaneously. That doesn’t happen often, and after all the doomy prognostications about the fate of cricket (following muppets like Allan Stanford pouring petrol on the brushfire that is international cricket right now), it’s refreshing to have the game focussed on quality test matches again. The madness will return, of course, but for now we’re safe.
7. Everything I read on King Cricket (thanks so much for the tip, Adam) has made me wish I’d written it. The site has a surreal, tangential sense of humour, coupled with a fierce love of the game coursing though every word. But one example: A post on the recent travails of Punter, Mr Cricket and, uh, Haydos kinda captured the aesthetic pretty perfectly. After noting their poor start to the current test, King Cricket got personal:
“If they’re so good, let’s see how they bat in a hole; a deep hole; one so deep that they’re effectively batting beneath the level of the stumps. How well would they bat then, eh?
We’d hazard that they wouldn’t bat at all well. Their cover driving would be substantially blunted by their unusually low stance and the lack of a bat with which to hit the ball. Did we mention that they wouldn’t be allowed a bat? Because they wouldn’t.”
I can only urge anyone with a love of all cricket’s idiosyncrasies to become a regular visitor.