Scotty Stevenson: McCullum's infected Kiwi kids with summer of cricket

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I blame Brendon McCullum. All that swagger and machoism of his. Photo / Greg Bowker
I blame Brendon McCullum. All that swagger and machoism of his. Photo / Greg Bowker

There once was a time when to me the term "summer of cricket" was nothing more than a mundane marketing catchphrase, as meaningless as "summer of mosquitoes" or "summer of sand in togs with attendant chafing".

Suddenly, it seems (unless I've been missing something all along, which is not a fresh charge against me) this summer is very much one of cricket.

I blame Brendon McCullum. All that swagger and machoism of his. All that flashing bat and derring-do. All those unorthodox fields, quick-fire fifties, and gum-chewing confidence.

Yes, I blame him, all right. He's infected the nation's children, and us adults can do nothing about it.

I am camping this summer, as you do when you marry into a family of campers. My wife's immediate and extended family takes up the entire E block of their favourite camping ground, which makes the whole thing sound more like hard time than holiday.

It's not easy to convince friends to visit when you tell them you are in E block. They immediately picture razor wire and a dusty exercise yard.

Of course, having the entire family in one place means there are altogether too many children, but at least they are all into cricket, which gets us neatly to the nub of this particular argument. The children are obsessed with cricket, and particularly with McCullum's mob.

In my day, you picked Australian cricketers to be like on the backyard pitch. Now every kid's a Kane Williamson or a Tim Southee.

My nephews Toby and Sam and their cousin Fergus are currently engaged in their own version of an endless test match, which has now been in play for the best part of 10 days with Sam on 630 for five, chasing a mammoth first innings total of 978 set by his two partners in crime.

Play begins as soon as they are all out of bed (which of course means start times may vary) and only ends when the last of the light has drained away, or when their uncle hears a tennis ball hitting his car. Quite why anyone would park a car on a cricket pitch is frankly beyond us.

When extra players permit, stumps, bats and balls and most of E block is ordered to the beach where six-and-outs are irrelevant and fathers do the fielding.

My own two sons (7 and 4) find themselves actively involved in a game they don't really understand, which is a great excuse for the eldest son's horrendous chucking.

Fortunately, the camping ground has a kitchen with Sky Television which on game days this summer has boasted the most men per square foot engaged in dishwashing in the history of domestic chores.

Yes, I blame McCullum for that, too.

And there is a pub across the road, which came in handy during the rained-off match in Nelson.

Play may have been abandoned, but we may have forgot to inform our better halves. In fairness, it was endless drizzle outside and, by the end of the night, it was endless drivel inside.

And now I find myself writing this at a friend's summer hut, in the middle of nowhere, accessible only by 4WD (which I only know because my car is not) while their two lads, Jack and Archie, listen to the Black Caps through the static on an old transistor and tell stories about meeting Brendon McCullum on Boxing Day.

Their bat and ball is sitting on the grass right in front of me, waiting for the next innings.

And when I get back to camp the endless test will still be going. And so will the summer of cricket. Long may it continue.

- NZ Herald

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