Chris Gayle rolls the dice on Instagram this time
There has been a gargantuan outpouring of emotion and tributes in the wake of Martin Crowe's untimely death. The deluge has been inescapable and there have been many wonderful words inked and spoken. (I wrote a few OK ones too.) The man made an impact.
Gees I've enjoyed SKY's pop-up Cricket Max tribute channel, featuring an absolute smorgasbord of retro cricket action from the 1990s and early 2000s - possibly the least cool era in the history of eras. In amongst the preposterous umpiring signals, players in shorts, ultra-buggy shirts the size of top sheets, hysterical Strayan commentary from Graeme Hughes and atrocious music from the 4 Non Blondes, the Goldilocks-haired Carl Bulfin was the star of the show for me.
Now a painter (of property not watercolours) ensconced in Blenheim, Bulfin was bowling in sunglasses and even took a Lara-Chanderpaul-Campbell 'Max hat-trick' at one stage. I also enjoyed @LuchaLounge pointing out that Bulfin was operating the Adidas Twini model shades.
The shrill, high-horsed, manufactured outrage from some quarters about some ex-players not attending the Crowe funeral this Friday was unfair and well off the mark. Nobody gets to mandate when someone else attends a funeral. I won't dwell on it as it doesn't deserve the attention.
The funereal criticism wasn't the weirdest reaction to Crowe's death. That would go to Mountain Scene in Queenstown which rustled up an archives piece about the Crowes from 1996, zeroing in on their separation and departure from the shores of Lake Wakatipu.
Editor David Williams has defended the opportunistic but understandable trawling of the back catalogue: "I posted it because I felt our readers would be interested in the fact cricketing great Martin Crowe, who died last week, lived for a time in the Wakatipu. Not everyone knows that. Some readers have taken this as being in bad taste. This wasn't the intention."
The World T20 is under way in front of empty stadiums. There are at least a couple of blokes to look out for that are not in the beige bustier but have a Kiwi connection. One is Hong Kong's Mark Chapman, of Auckland Aces, Parnell CC and King's College cricketing fame. Born to a Chinese mother, 21-year-old Chapman is a decent left-handed batsman, left-arm spinner and excellent fielder. Cricinfo reckons he is the Kongers' best player.
Meanwhile in the punishingly fluorescent orange of the Netherlands is Christchurch-born Peter Borren. A million years ago he played for New Zealand alongside Michael Bates, Rob Nicol, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor and Neil Broom in the 2002 Under-19 World Cup, then upped sticks. He was brutally honest in Wisden this week: "I got a chance to play club cricket in Amsterdam and I loved the idea. My father is Dutch, so I stayed back in Holland. Honestly, I was not a very good cricketer, and had I stayed back in New Zealand, I would probably have never been a Test cricketer." Gold.
Spotted UMR's Mood of the Nation research this week - and the findings on cricket's resurgent popularity in 2015 whacked me over the head like an irate Neil Wagner short ball barrage. The Cricket World Cup was the #1 news story in March 2015 and cricket has stormed past league and netball over the past year - thanks to a combination of success, admiration and a compelling approach to the game.
Meanwhile in the UK the pessimistic realists at Sheffield University have completed a study entitled An Economic Analysis of Attendance Demand for One-Day International Cricket and zeroed in on the factors that attract and repel fans, with a view to the next World Cup in that neck of the woods: "If the tournament is to be a success then careful thought must be given to its structure, because consumer appetite for predictable fixtures is undoubtedly limited....There isn't necessarily a problem with having 'minnows' at the World Cup. If two of the smaller nations were to play each other, for example, then they ought to produce a close contest - which, according to our findings, is what fans want to see. But the authorities have to be careful to minimise the number of fixtures with too big a difference in team quality, otherwise overall attendances are likely to be poor."
The bacon-and-egg brigade at the MCC have announced their Cricket Book of the Year shortlist. The six on the list are:
- Cricket The Game of Life: Every Reason to Celebrate by Scyld Berry ("cricket in different areas of the world, and abstract concepts such as language, numbers, ethics and psychology";
- Summer's Crown: The Story of Cricket's County Championship by Stephen Chalke ("visually wonderful");
- Gilbert: The Last Years of WG Grace by Charlie Connelly ("the final years of Grace's life through the eyes of Grace himself");
- Chasing Shadows: The Life and Death of Peter Roebuck by Tim Lane and Elliott Cartledge ("celebrates Roebuck's immense achievements...but not shy away from the controversies that plagued his life and hang so darkly and with such uncertainty over his shocking death");
- Fire in Babylon: How the West Indies Cricket Team Brought a People to its Feet by Simon Lister ("a man called Clive Lloyd began to lead a side which would at last throw off the shackles that had hindered the region for centuries"); and
- Amazing Grace: The Man who was W.G. by Richard Tomlinson ("reveals the real W. G: a self-made, self-destructive genius, at odds with the world and himself")
I have read precisely zero of these, but the Roebuck one is on my must read list.
READ Jonathan Liew on Stuart Broad: "Interviewing Broad is always a treat...Broad not only loves what he does, but loves talking about it, and is excellent at doing so: what we describe in the trade as the Holy Trinity of interviewing."
WATCH the couches burn on the Carisbrook terraces back in 1997 as Heath Davis and Simon Doull knock the top of the Sri Lankan batting, following on from Bryan Young's monstrous double century the aftermath to Bryan Young's unbeaten 267.
LISTEN to the BYC podcast in which The Godfather, Kev and Off White Thunder doff their caps to M.D. Crowe, are stoked to hear from Blenheim's Finnish Kiwi cricketer Karl Fitzpatrick and yarn about Black Cap #239, Aaron 'Son of Rodney' Redmond.
READ Suresh Raina's journey from nowhere to five-star hotels: "The train was chugging along towards Agra....Raina was sleeping on a newspaper spread on the floor, wearing his pad, chest-guard, and thigh pad as protection on that chilly night. So were the other 12 to 15 year-old boys heading to play a cricket tournament at the city of history and romance."
WATCH this amazing forward windmill, back windmill, skippety-skip, twirly-whirly bowling action.
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 email@example.com.