Paul Ford is the co-founder of Beige Brigade.

Middle & Leg: Shihad, Heath, Masala & Monty

Wellington Primary Schools, 1985
Wellington Primary Schools, 1985

My mate fired through this amazing old school team photo from the walkshorts, walk socks and sensible haircutted mid-80s. Check out All White Harry Ngata and, best of all, Shihad livewire rocker Jonathan Toogood as skipper. Rumour has it that Jon's old man used to get along to the cricket in his leather pants.

The vice-captain, Timmy Boyer, reckons Toogood was old before his time and a cricket rock star to boot: "Jon was a very stylish and talented all-rounder who batted first drop and bowled first change in that team."

A while back Toogood told the Herald: "I rediscovered the guitar and music at 14 or 15 and I remember my dad being really bummed out when I started growing my hair long and getting into bands and giving the soccer and cricket away. But that's the age when you tend to get into music hardcore and it becomes your religion."


Elsewhere on the team sheets at the primary school tournament are a heap of well-known names too including Blair Pocock, Warren Burton (Auckland); Simon Mannix, Marc Ellis and Heath Davis (Hutt Valley); Matt Hart and Dion Nash (ND) and Tall Black Kent Mori donned the whites for Western Districts.

Heath Te-Ihi-O-Te-Rangi Davis (17 Test wickets @29.3) wreaked havoc - hitting an opener on the head with a bouncer. The batsman crashed back onto his stumps, before being taken away in an ambulance. In another incident the batsman retired, and the new batsman had to contend with blood on the pitch. Davis was banned from bowling bouncers at one point too. The joy of facing blistering pace before you were even a teenager.

Last I heard Davis was in Brisbane, and had lost a foot in an industrial crane accident. He said one of the most memorable quotes in NZ cricketing history when talking about the tragic state of affairs: "I didn't want to remember all the no-balls that I bowled through my career. So I decided to do something permanent about it..."


I've enjoyed NZ Cricket's extreme bewilderment followed by extreme enthusiasm after the BCCI announced that it was keen to play the Black Caps in a pink ball Test in October.

"We have decided that we will play one day-night Test match with pink ball against New Zealand later this year," BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur (1 first-class match, scored 0 and took 2/49) said. Without telling his counterparts Down Under.

"We're still waiting for the tour programme and that was the first announcement we'd had... it was quite a definitive one but from our side there's a few things we would need to understand," NZC's Lindsay Crocker politely replied. And then today from David White: "We've said we are receptive to the idea."

Of course we are. The reality is that in these matters, NZ Cricket holds little sway. We will field an XI, play wherever, in any conditions, on any pitch, and with any ball in order to keep the BCCI happy and to keep our players in the IPL - and to ensure India gets its blue backside back here for a return series, along with the mouth-watering flow-on financial effects that will then ensue.


The pink ball revolution is not being embraced by South Africa ahead of its upcoming visit to Australian shores this summer. Hilariously, AB de Villiers threw Smudge Smith under a bus when he claimed that Smith had helped the South Africans decide not to follow in New Zealand's pink Test footprints. "We had a meeting with Steve Smith and some of the Australian players when they toured here earlier this year and the consensus from our talks were that there are just too many unknowns, players from both teams were reluctant to go ahead with it..."

But now Smith has contradicted de Villiers' claims. Well sort of. "I'm surprised that he named me. I know having spoken to them, a few of [South Africa's] older players were keen to experience day-night Test cricket before they finish playing..."

Surprised to be named sounds about right - but it's not quite a denial. Awkward.


Meanwhile in Surrey...snow stopped play at The Oval as the great English spring got under way.


Another week, another obscure Indian cricket film is set to emerge - hard on the heels of the looming films on Dhoni and Tendulkar comes a "masala" entitled Azhar, celebrating the life and times of banned and unbanned Indian batsman and captain Mohammad Azharuddin: "Love him, hate him, judge him." I think we've done all of those things already.


READ: Andy Zaltzman on the best number eight batsmen of all time, starring Hamilton's very own partially blind Italian librarian, Daniel Vettori who he describes as "the rather less elegant but staggeringly effective..."

BID: Up for sale is a filling from the well-used mouth of Mark Richardson, with every cent going to IHC New Zealand - $1 reserve.

LISTEN: In this week's BYC podcast, entitled The Peaceful Yet Tempting Martin Episode, the lads discuss the life and times of lawnmower victim Martin McGoldrick: is he our greatest ODI player of all time?

READ: Will Magee on the cult of Monty Panesar: "Monty has been the butt of near incessant joking, clowning and general silliness from the stands. The vast majority of this has been intended fondly, the sort of lighthearted comedy that defines the cult hero's relationship with his supporters..."

Case in point, this effort by beige stalwart, substitute fielder, and amateur craft beer brewer Blair Sayer...

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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