Middle & Leg: Slacks, Vengaboys, chicken and Billy's new ad

Via Beige Brigade: In 1986 a group of Australian Cricket stars visited Victoria University in Wellington to promote the installation of an artificial cricket pitch at Kelburn Park.
Via Beige Brigade: In 1986 a group of Australian Cricket stars visited Victoria University in Wellington to promote the installation of an artificial cricket pitch at Kelburn Park.

Pakistan weren't good enough at the Basin, but Wellington definitely was. The Basin Reserve on the capital city's birthday was a sight to behold - and another piece of evidence that a full ground is the best ground, regardless of size.

Kudos also to NZ Cricket for scheduling the match on a quasi-public holiday, removing the need to arrange clandestine mid-week "business meetings" in the RA Vance stand. Tripling down with the T20 on Friday night, and Wellington Cup Day at Trentham on Saturday, it made for a hell of a weekend in Welly.

I'm a massive advocate of establishing traditions and locked-in dates in our cricketing calendar so that fans can plan epic trips months and years in advance - we've torched, reincarnated and re-torched the Boxing Day test concept - but we could commit to matches on every provincial anniversary day: Wellington, Auckland/Nelson, New Plymouth, Dunedin and Southland all land in cricket season - and Hawke's Bay, Canterbury (and even the Chatham Islands) could all work OK too.

It'd beat the beige pants off the current arrangement where there are essentially zero locked in fixtures per annum.

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The punishment dished out on cricket fans' eardrums around the grounds this summer is incessant. NZ Cricket's in-house disc jockey needs to find some new tricks as his work is becoming a parody.

I can cope with music at the cricket, it's unavoidable it seems, but when 100 decibels of Wagon Wheel or Suicide Is Painless stops people mid-sentence as they talk about the game, you might be doing it wrong. When the Batman theme, The Vengaboys or Fall At Your Feet intrude on the atmosphere and overwhelm the user-generated content - chants, songs, clapalongs, player-directed banter - being created by a packed house, you might be doing it wrong. These are the halcyon days for NZ cricket, we don't need cheesy eurodance or Radiohead on the embankment with us.

The rare music-free, announcement-free, ad-free, stony silence after Mitchell McClenaghan was felled was deafening, eerie and memorable. The crowd was concerned and captivated. The DJ, Mark McLeod, is on record as saying he "has enough music on file to play for five days straight without repeating a song". For the record Spotify has about 152 years' worth, but whatever is going on, let's expand the repertoire, contract the volume and reduce the frequency. Maybe it's time for a guest DJ?

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Cricket lost an important man in Jack Bannister this week, aged 85. A first-class cricketer and respected cricket correspondent, he was an influential figure in the rise of player rights as a founding member of the Professional Cricketers' Association in the UK. George Dobell eloquently summed it up: "The roots of better salaries, freedom of movement and more equitable terms and conditions for players all grew from those roots. The players of today owe Bannister and his colleagues a great deal." He was also involved in a cracking practical joke on Jonathan Agnew - acting as an uncooperative talking head alongside Fred Trueman at Edgbaston in 1993.

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The Big Bash League over the ditch has attracted attention in many quarters - it was a fantastic competition, bolstered by spectacular crowds averaging close to 30,000 per game and plenty of star power.

American sports lawyer Jason Belzer hasn't missed its ascension: "Above all, when league attendance the first few years was modest, Big Bash continued to focus on developing enduring relationships with its targeted fan base instead of using short-term marketing gimmicks that could fill seats but would hurt the league's brand in the long run."

In the New York Times, NZCPA boss Heath Mills sounds a warning about the rise of franchise cricket like the Big Bash and its ability to shrink the international game: "If the bigger countries start to play less international cricket, particularly against the smaller nations, which is less profitable, and commit more time to their T20 competitions, that will significantly impact the smaller nations. In turn, this will reduce the small nations' ability to fund the game and retain players."

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Billy Bowden is making ads in Australia. This one was for Telstra and Uber's Backyard Cricket Australia Day gimmick, where you could dial in an umpire to officiate your game of backyard cricket. Decent idea, well played.

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GRAM: Controversy magnet and self-promoting genius Chris Gayle on Instagram: "Don't Blush UniverseBoss - Ok Baby! #LionHeart #ManALion #NewTattoo #YouNeedWingsToCatchMeUp" Righto. And if you want to buy his gold bat - and only for a lazy AUD$2000...

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READ: Andrew Alderson gets a bit intoxicated with the bearded run-making feats of Kane Williamson - "New Zealand's Don Bradman" he reckons. For one I think Bradman had a streak of arrogance in his genes that Kane doesn't have: "[Williamson's] acute modesty is what resonates most with the Kiwi public. The more self-effacing he becomes, the more he is respected for being himself."

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WATCH: The New Zealand vs West Indies preview from the World Cup in 1999. It features Geoff Allott, Adam Parore, Stephen Fleming, Steve Rixon and Dion Nash on a boat. And an opening pun to die for.

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LISTEN: The BYC podcast in which the boys are celebrating Black Cap #234 - L.R.P.L Taylor - with an homage in the form of fried chicken and red wine.

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READ: The back story to Pranav Dhanawade's 1000-run feat, and the nonsense of it all. The quote from the curator of the ground where the mismatch happened is golden: "My first love is snake catching. And that's my living. When you're dealing with them, you can't get it wrong, or you lose your wicket for good. No second innings..."

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TWEET: Via @imeldahide in Hertfordshire: "Hubby's birthday cake.. Scotty 2 Hotty!


- NZ Herald

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