Paul Ford is the co-founder of Beige Brigade.

Middle & Leg: McCullum Fuss, Dick Illingworth & Nugget Rees

Nathan McCullum's brother circa 2001.
Nathan McCullum's brother circa 2001.

Gutted for Brendon McCullum not to have a fairytale ending at the Basin Reserve this week.

Having ventured to the ground early to hear from the extremely ironically named Ashley 'Rowdy' Mallett over bacon, eggs and outrageous Doug Walters stories, I settled in to soak up the first hour of play on a Kermit-green deck.

Yes we'd lost the toss and yes we would've liked a bowl, but never in my wildest nightmares did I expect to see McCullum batting in the eighth over and traipsing back in the ninth.

Cricket is a harsh mistress and she doesn't care for sentimentality, but surely she will be less wicked at Hagley Oval. For the record, I'd chuck Baz in to open with Latham, with Guptill down the order at five or six.

It was a test match with a smorgasbord of spectacular and memorable moments - two of the best caught and bowleds of all time (Boult's grab of Marsh was so sweet after his Hamilton petulance), the worst umpiring since Nigel Llong in November 2015 (oh hang on), a heaving Basin crowd (no toilet blockages), a Corey Corey Corey Corey Corey Anderson chant, bushfires, the traditional lunchtime BYC on the playing surface, craft beer on tap (well, Chomp), a delectable century from Khawaja and some grotesque bowling luck for Doug Bracewell.

Book me in at Basin Test matches for life.


In case you were wondering what that weird pattern on Brendon McCullum's tattooed breast was during this match, it was all part of the fuss of his 100th consecutive Test, as spotted by @gillespie_201.

Jarrod Kimber has also made a McCullum fuss in his own inimitable way, writing that "if X factor was an actual thing, not just something people said when they couldn't articulate someone's skill, not just something that replaces real words that mean something, not just a buzzword invented by dullards, Brendon McCullum would be richer than Bill Gates by just selling his own blood..."


I don't subscribe to the theory that we lost the test because Dick Illingworth's abysmal no ball decision, but it was undoubtedly a massive momentum-shifter from a potential 144/4, Australia were good enough to plough their way to 299/4 - and Voges didn't exit the roundabout until there was 562 on the big green scoreboard.

Once the no ball is called, there is no comeback for the bowling side - a batsman can't be expected to play on when a man in a white raincoat and welding goggles is screaming at the same time as the red leather is hurtling toward you at 140 km/hr.


The Aussie cricket team's good luck charm is a 72-year-old man called Barry. 'Nugget' Rees is a South Australian with a learning disability who has been part of Australian cricket for yonks, and is especially close to coach Darren Lehmann.

Nugget is a complete legend of the game in South Australia and across The Lucky Country, and Lehmann has launched a campaign to have a stand at his beloved Adelaide Oval named after him.

It all started back in the 1960s when Barry Jarman gave him a job at his sports store - Jarman went on to captain Australia and took Nugget along with him for the ride.

According to the ABC: "Jarman took Nugget on an interstate tour, and since then, every South Australian and Australian team has taken him on away trips at least once a year. Following Jarman's lead, every Australian captain from Ian Chappell to Steve Smith has taken Nugget under his wing. He is provided with team uniforms, included in team activities, allowed into the sacred dressing room and always stands with the captain for the National Anthem."

If this story and the video below don't warm your heart, you're not alive.



Highest scores by batting position in Test cricket for NZ:
1. Bryan Young (267*)
2. Graeme Dowling (239)
3. Stephen Fleming (274*)
4. Martin Crowe
5. Brendon McCullum (302)
6. Jeremy Coney (174*)
7. Brendon McCullum (185)
8. Daniel Vettori (140)
9. Ian Smith (173)
10. John Bracewell (83*)
11. Richard Collinge (68*).

Perhaps it's time for Tim Southee to bat for an hour and knock off that number ten record from the The Gravedigger. I read a ridiculously well-researched essay from Andy Zaltzman about number tens this week in which he said:

There are occasional debates about whether a 10 ought to be batting at nine, or an 11 at 10, but these register low on the Richter scale of cricketing squabbles.... The only way to make the 10 position indisputably your own is to be consistently quite rubbish without either slipping into outright elevenish uselessness, or elevating yourself into the outer reaches of Allrounderdom and a single-figure spot in the batting order.

He also includes a list of the greatest number tens - by batting average - with none other than John Bracewell second on the all-time list, albeit some way behind fellow offie David Allen from England.


The greatest name in all of cricket is Ilikena Lasarusa Talebulamaineiilikenamainavaleniveivakabulaimainakulalakebalau, the belligerent Fijian batsman from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Apparently he hit the ball over the grandstand roof at Lancaster Park back in the day, averaged 41 in first-class cricket, and was a massive fan of "the pull-drive". Incredibly he batted in bare feet - reminiscent of a mate of mine who bats gloveless in Southland club cricket, despite needing his hands for his day job as a possum hunter.


In the Masters Champions League final in Dubai, the Gemini Arabians scored 130 (Kyle Mills 9, Scott Styris 2/18), defending that successfully against the Leo Lions who were all out for 114 in their final over (Hamish Marshall 46, James Franklin 0, Styris 7, Mills 2/13). Marshall's LBW decision was apparently one that Nigel Llong would be proud of.


WATCH: Nick Knight talks to Brendon McCullum about setting a field : "Southee to open the bowling, taking the ball away from Hales at Edgbaston..."

READ: Samuel Scott take us through the descent into the "familiar hell" of a NZ cricket fan in Wellington: "But as much as I feel like a great wave of Australia vomit has spewed forth upon my soul, I think this team is tougher than me."

READ: Devon Mace's epic tale of NZ spin bowling from William Robertson to Bill Merritt to Daniel Vettori and almost everyone who wheeled in, in between.

LISTEN: The BYC podcast crew ventured into the crypt of the NZ Cricket Museum and made a podcast this week: it's called The Museum Crypt Correction Episode.

WATCH: One of the great umpiring sequences as Geoff Lawson is out hit wicket twice in consecutive overs, but not given out wither time by Australian umpire Dick French. And yes cricket nerds, there were appeals on both occasions from Jeff Dujon and Michael Holding. French may sound familiar to you - he was the blind man in a coat who denied Danny Morrison's stone-cold LBW appeal against Craig McDermott to help Australia save a Test match, nine down at the MCG in 1987.

Middle & Leg is a cricket newsletter for New Zealand cricket fans who like a dose of optimism and a tablespoon of take the piss with their weekly cricket informational. It is tapped out by Paul Ford, co-founder of the Beige Brigade, and one-seventh of The Alternative Commentary Collective . You can email him here

- NZ Herald

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