Dylan Cleaver on sport

Sport analysis and comment from APN's Head of Sport Dylan Cleaver

Dylan Cleaver: Culcha club needs new tune

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Doug Bracewell. Photo / Getty Images
Doug Bracewell. Photo / Getty Images

Curious week in New Zealand cricket, but aren't they all.

It might have escaped your notice, but New Zealand had been doing rather well in Dunedin, aided and abetted by an England team that played the first half of the test like a side that had spent the previous week in Queenstown.

It was just as well that things initially went well for New Zealand because the days before the test had not gone well.

Doug Bracewell's bad choice of flatmates and even worse choice of footwear robbed New Zealand of a bowler whose wholehearted style would have been useful on a University Oval pitch that had less life than a morgue. Still it was a godsend for critics of New Zealand Cricket as an organisation and New Zealand as a team.

Just another example of "Boozeculcha", they screamed, forcing the NZC comms team and the Players' Association to reveal crucial details about Dougie's Big Night In. Like that he and his flatties had a few mates over to watch a Super 15 double-header - Blues 34 Crusaders 15, followed by the Hurricanes 12-18 loss to the Reds - the second match of which would have driven the Temperance Movement to drink.

Dougie had a couple beers but was not drunk, his mates got a bit rowdy and the neighbour poked his face over the fence a couple of times to try to restore a bit of civility.

To cap it off, the next morning Bracewell trod on a bit of glass while hoovering up the detritus from the night before.

Bracewell's been on the bad behaviour radar before, but Dan Vettori? Now there's a dark horse.

There was a time when the bespectacled twirler could do no wrong. He was captain of everything, selector, best bowler, best batsman and the maker of a fine cannelloni. Now, to steal from Monty Python, we discover he's "not the Messiah - he's a very naughty boy", after he took his mate Jeetan Patel out for a night on Q'town's slippery tiles; a night that ended with a ringing headache for Patel, a visit to hospital and an unscheduled day off.

All of this proved a little confusing for a flat-footed and befuddled NZC, perhaps even understandably so, but it was plain as day for the rest of us: "Boozeculcha!"

So it befell national fallguy Mike Hesson to defend the environment he has created, even though the incidents happened several postcodes from where he was at the time and even though drinking and cricket - drinking and team sport, if we're being honest - has gone hand in hand for generations.

But Hesson is fighting a losing PR war on three fronts: he's not John Wright, he's uncommonly small and he bladed a popular skipper.

People want to see him fail, want to see him in the gun and Bracewell, Vettori and Patel have unwittingly provided his critics with bullets.

So here's the nub: if his players - Taylor excluded for obvious reasons - respect him as much as we are told, then they can show it by laying off the booze until the end of the summer.

They might still lose, but it could change a culcha.

- Herald on Sunday

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