APPLICATION FOR THE POSITION OF: Coach of the New Zealand Cricket Team (Black Caps)
It wouldn't be an Outside the Line
entry if it wasn’t slightly too verbose, somewhat beside the point, and
delivered on the nick of time, right? Well, we’re here to please. As the
fourth- or fifth- most prominent New Zealand-based cricket blog, it feels
almost like a duty to present at least a token application for the position. Thanks to JRod for creating the groundswell of support and interest in this nominating process.
So why Outside the Line? It seems like an
odd choice, doesn’t it? Even though I’ve lived in New Zealand for the better
part of four years now, I don’t think I’ve written more than a handful of posts
about NZ cricket in that time. I remember there was one about Stephen
Fleming’s retirement, and ode or two to Scott Styris and Brendon McC, some
disparaging remarks about the Black Caps’ faceless middle order, but little beyond
(I don’t think I’ve even mentioned John
Bracewell’s name once. Meanwhile, “Shooter McGavin” comes up at least three times in
And that, right there, is precisely what makes OTL
supremely qualified for the gig. It’s that understanding of the realities on
the ground; the pragmatic air of indifference; and the ultimate acceptance of
the utter irrelevance and meaninglessness of the gig itself.
Seriously, what can a new coach possibly do to
improve Kiwi cricket? Will a new coach bring Shane Bond back and give him
another 2-3 years in his prime? Will a new coach grant Kyle Mills an extra 10
kph of pace? Will a new coach find a way to bend the space-time continuum so
that Chris Cairns’ son would be old enough to fill in the allrounder spot solely reserved
for members of his family?
Let’s face it: it’s not bad coaching that has
kept New Zealand from achieving any great honours in cricket… it’s bad
Take a look around this little country sometime -- by my count, it seems there are about 67 people in the entire South Island, and
I’m sure at least 33 of those are out in the rain this very moment, practicing
rugby line-outs on a muddy council pitch.
(A quick Wiki search tells me that New Zealand
ranks 122nd in population and 204th in population density
in the world, nestled somewhere between Ireland and Lebanon in the former
rankings and Paraguay and Sudan in the latter.)
There is just no way a country like that can
expect to compete with behemoths like India, especially in a sport like cricket
that magnifies slight differences in talent and infrastructure. The fact that
New Zealand has managed to do so damn well thus far should already be a reason
to gasp in awe and celebrate. They are a team full of well-disciplined
overachievers who should be encouraged to just keep on doing whatever it is
they’ve been doing so far. ***
So as far as matters of performance on the
field, OTL wouldn’t propose any real changes. The only tweaks we could
suggest are more conceptual than anything else.
For instance, more of this is good…
In fact, anything that accentuates the rivalry with
Australia is a positive, since New Zealand will always come out as the
emotional folk favourite. The plucky upstart with the sense of humour and the
Pacific Island influence, battling the big, bloodless bully with all the riches
from across the Tasman.
The beige and brown combo of the uniform definitely works for
retro comedy purposes, but I think I like the opportunities black provides for
forming a team identity. Studies show that teams dressed in black regularly
face an unconscious officiating bias in American football and hockey, leading to
more fouls and penalties for aggressive behaviour being called against them during the game.
Maybe New Zealand should see that as an
opportunity… and come back as a bad-ass, anti-hero team, of the Oakland Raiders in the 1970s
mold. Behave badly, break norms, disrupt, get suspended, banned – what’s Jesse
Ryder up to these days, anyway? – and, you know, get people on their toes. Do the Haka
before taking the field. Roast wild pigs in a hangi pit just outside the boundary
ropes. Let the Mongrel Mob handle security at the grounds. Hand out free
Chappell brother effigies to burn joyously under the crisp summer night.
In fact, that might well be priority no. 1…
Make sure no one, EVER, forgets the Underarm
Incident. It should be brought up at all possible times, even when it has
nothing to do with the conversation. (“Say, what horrible weather we are having
today, gentle sir.” “Verily, my good man, but not nearly as black as Greg
Chappell’s soul.” “Mmm, quite.”Or something like that… I was never much good at
Oh, and since it’s worked out pretty well for
Zimbabwe so far… guess who else has a vote at the ICC that’s up for sale to the
highest bidder? That’s right, New Zealand is ready to be wooed again, and she can
prove very, ahem, “accommodating” of the winning bloc of nations at the ICC, if you catch our drift. Will it be the Asian bloc? The white bloc? See, all this talk of blocs is
getting her all hot and flustered already…
For any further ideas on management, we'll just draw from those who know what they're doing...
J Rod fills us in on the bedroom habits of Michael Hussey, in what I'm sure will be the first installment of many more to come. It's a
conceit so brilliant I almost feel like sending the man a mailbomb and stealing
in the cricketosphere, my thanks to Uncle J Rod from Cricket with Balls, who
gave Outside the Line a nice big'up today. Much appreciated, sir. Not to make this
seem like a mutual blogger reach-around here, but if you haven't checked out
Cricket with Balls already... well, you've got problems. With the fervent work
ethic of a lab rat on speed, and a quicker mind than a character from the West
Wing, Uncle J Rod has made it his life's goal to infect your mind, corrupt your
children, and put the name "Bryce McGain" on the map. It's a shame
his loyalty is still wasted on the Imperial Forces of Australia... the man has the
heart of an insurgent, and we could always use another good soldier. (I'm sure he can be bought off, though. Give it time.)
at Cricket with Balls, Uncle J Rod takes a break from penning odes to Natalie
Portman and pushing pins into his Brad Hodge voodoo doll to hail the genius
of Kumar Sangakkara. Good timing on it as well, since Sangakkara then went on to
score a fluid 92 that same day and almost singlehandedly kept Sri Lanka
competitive in the first Test match of their home series against England.
While I definitely agree with the sentiment, I think Uncle J Rod gets the nomenclature wrong. Maybe it's just my anti-imperial contrariety showing here, but I think "king" is not the right term to use with Sangakkara. We need something better, something more in tune with the times; a term that conveys the sheer greatness of the man, his superior skill, and his clear standing above all others in his field (without reinforcing bullshit colonial myths about the superiority of royalty).
So how about this, instead: Kumar Sangakkara, the Heather Brooke of world cricket.
Over at Cricket with Balls, Uncle J Rod
fine-combs for cliches in Kumar Sangakkara' latest cricinfo column, which
seems a little like shooting retarded fish in a barrel to me (do mixed
metaphors count if there are three of them? Two of them cancel out, don't they?). Come
on, this is a sportsman's column. You show me onecolumn written
by an active sportsman that is not vapid, cliche-ridden, and full of vacuous
buzz words out of some mid-90s Michael Jordan inspirational phrasebook. It's
just not what sportsmen do. (Though I wish cricinfo didn't make so obvious that it
was ghost-written -- it's not a good sign when your title is in quote
And the inactive players are not much better, either.
Ever read something by Ian Chappell? Yeah... and he's supposed to be one of the