Outside the Line
August 3rd, 2008
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 that.
(I don’t think I’ve even mentioned John Bracewell’s name once. Meanwhile, “Shooter McGavin” comes up at least three times in my searches.)
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 demographics.
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 dialogue.)
- 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...