Paul Ford is the co-founder of Beige Brigade.

Middle & Leg: Small shorts, big beards & the John drought

Between innings at Eden Park in 1982 from One-Day Wonders (published 1991)
Between innings at Eden Park in 1982 from One-Day Wonders (published 1991)

The Black Caps are three from three and have showed a stack of resilience in each win so far. That means that many New Zealand cricket fans have been joined by the johnny-come-latelys (welcome, welcome) and we are approaching that dangerous territory of daring to dream. I think I even heard Mike Hesson say it earlier in the week. Uh-oh. Let's just keep our heads down and keep talking everybody else up, as is the Kiwi way.

I was reminded of that Kiwi way and the place cricket occupies in most people's lives in the Land of the Long White Cloud when I saw that in the wake of the extermination of the Men in Green by India last weekend, there were scenes of chaos in Pakistan. One report described disappointed fans hitting the streets to "smash their TVs and set them on fire to express disappointment."

Nothing says "bat better" and "please hit boundaries more often in the last 10 overs" than a broken television.

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That cocky mofo Dwayne Bravo has released a new video for his song Champion, the West Indies T20 World Cup anthem. It's a shocker, but right on brand.

He reckons he launched the new song in India "I wanted to give back something to the country, which has done so much for me." Like pay him handsomely to play for Chennai in the IPL for example.

To be fair he is not only banging on about himself but also raps that the likes of Brian Lara, Kieron Pollard and Chris Gayle are all "champions", along with Michael Jordan, Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Serena Williams and Usain Bolt.

Kieron Pollard must be over the moon to be in the mix with that all-star cast.

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Jonathan Agnew was on-air and announced sombrely: "I have some very saddening news for England cricket fans listening...." This week saw the 14th anniversary of English cricketer Ben Hollioake's untimely death in a car accident near Perth, on holiday visiting his folks in Western Australia. He was 24 years old.

I remember the eeriness and whispers as the news filtered around the jam-packed Basin Reserve that Saturday morning, where England were batting against New Zealand in the second Test. Hollioake had recently been in the country as part of the preceding one-day series.

England captain Nasser Hussain summed it up: "Cricket is a side-issue when you've just lost a friend who only a few weeks ago we were mucking around with, having dinner with and having a laugh with. He was a bloody good bloke."

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Say it ain't so but it sounds like our most recent national cricketing hero, Grant Elliott, is set to retire his hairy javelin from the international arena. He tells Sid Monga lots of things in an extensive profile, including this as he gazes into his World T20 crystal ball: "It would be awesome to finish your career on a real high...If you don't believe you can win, you shouldn't be here anyway. I will still look to play T20 cricket around the world if I can. Try and mix that with work and some interests outside of the game."

***

The best contemporary beard/mullet/moustache combo in cricket belongs to future diesel mechanic and country music fan Blair Soper from the Otago Volts. The left-armer made the XI this week after more than two years out thanks to a shoulder injury and a decent stint running drinks, jet planes, jargon-filled captain's advice and fresh groin protectors out into the middle. The ODT also has a pic of him pre-beard and pre-mullet and pre-'tache.

Blair Soper. Photos / ODT
Blair Soper. Photos / ODT

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A North Shore teacher has been in touch about the dearth of Johns in New Zealand cricket. Staggeringly, the last John to debut in Tests was John Bracewell back in 1981, and in ODIs the last Jonathan was Millmow in 1991. And we've not had a John, Jonny, Jonathan, Jonty, or Jono at all in T20s to date. The Great NZ Cricket John Drought is upon us ladies and gentlemen who will step up? Jono Boult perhaps...

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An earworm earache from Mel Farrell on Twitter this week. I'm assuming this isn't a compliment.


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LISTEN: The BYC podcast recorded on Sunday night zeroes in on a 3-legged horse, the career of Hoppy Hopkins and has an all-star cast of Emails From Around the World.

READ: Dylan Cleaver on the Black Caps' real humility and why quantity surveyors provide better quotes. "This is a team where individuals appear happy to sacrifice success (if success is measured by statistics; and in cricket it usually is) for the greater good."

BUY: Tickets to the best cricket politics documentary ever made, Death Of A Gentleman. It screens in Wellington later this month and early next at Nga Taonga on Taranaki St, right in the city and seconds away from 100 pubs.

READ: Peak celebrity cricket awkwardness as Julia Hollingsworth encounters a blind Italian librarian. "We only snapped one terrible photo but I was far too ashamed to ask for another."

WATCH: That time David Gower chucked an off-spinner at Martin Crowe, was no-balled for throwing, and New Zealand won the Test at Trent Bridge. And bless the Secretary of the Test & County Cricket Board for ruling Hogan's boundary off this shocker of a delivery counted. Gower became the first England player to be called for throwing in a Test in England, and had figures of 0-0-4-0.

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 beigehq@beigebrigade.co.nz .

- NZ Herald

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