Middle & Leg: Sky, Cunis, Zimbadway & Steven

New Zealand attempt a  run out after the ball was fielded and thrown in by a fan. Photo / Facebook - cricket.com.au
New Zealand attempt a run out after the ball was fielded and thrown in by a fan. Photo / Facebook - cricket.com.au

Sky TV has received an absolute pounding over the past couple of years, most recently when it raised prices at the same time as it revealed it was no chance of securing EPL football, and a fog of unknowns descended on whether it had secured coverage of the Black Caps' foreign forays this year.

As cricket fans know, it is delectable and ideal to view live ball-by-ball coverage in HD and bereft of pop-up banner ads on the big TV in your lounge - but if you can't, then you will find another way.

In amongst this angst-ridden mist, I'd like to give the channel a bouquet too. We've had English first-class cricket, Indian Premier League punishment and from 9:58pm Thursday night we can settle in as England (and Wales) and Sri Lanka get under way at Headingley. Don't miss the state of the crowd on Saturday night our time, as the ground explodes in a melee of Yorkshire dress-up nonsense.

I'm thankful for what I've got on this front.

For completeness there is also a Shaun the Sheep episode featuring cricket on Sunday morning, plus Box Cricket League on Hindi channel 151 - Colors. BCL is a 10-over-a-side cricket reality TV show with Bollywood 'celebrities'. Seriously. If you want to save yourself $9.99 a month and a world of confusion, investigate it here first.

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Two crickety reason to love Steven Funaki Adams: (1) he is honest, having trash-talked behemoth Aussie Andrew Bogut at CWC time, but has quit that after "we got destroyed" in the most recent trans-tasman cricket; and (2) he is a patriot and remembers the underarm : "They cheated us...I search out Aussies and make it my job to make their lives miserable." He is not related to Andre Adams or Paul Adams.

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Tweet of the week from The Guardian's Kevin Mitchell (not the groundsman from The Gabba), referencing a tennis court that is "neither one thing nor the other" - a description applied to the former NZ Fast bowler's surname.


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New Zealand's next opponent, Zimbabwe, has had a bit of kerfuffle over the past week. Our Pango Kiapas are Africa-bound in July for a series including Test matches, but the Zimmers no longer have a ranking at ICC head office: "Zimbabwe... has not played the required eight Test matches over the new rating period to be included on the main table. It will reflect on the table as soon as it plays two more Tests."

In the past 18 months, Zimbabwe has played exactly zero Tests - its most recent engagement was a 3-0 thumping from Bangladesh in November 2014.

For various reasons, there is not exactly a lengthy queue of potential rivals for Zimbabwe. What various reasons? Well for starters they're rubbish and Harare is not on many tourists' bucket lists.

Our own MFAT reckons visitors should: "maintain a high level of personal security awareness...avoid all demonstrations, rallies and large public gatherings...avoid association with any activity that could be construed as political, including political discussions in public places" and remember that it is an offence to make "derogatory or insulting comments about President Mugabe or to carry material considered to be offensive to the President's office."

Joyous.

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RIP Ian Watkin, former U-Bix Cup cricket umpire, actor in many things including that Crunchie ad , and originally from the West Coast. This correspondent notes that he umpired a U-Bix Cup match at Queen's Park in Invervegas featuring Herald scribe Dylan Cleaver. Opening up, Cleaver was out for a thoroughly respectable 63, bowled Jeff Wilson: the double-international sports legend says "full toss", the scribe says "yorker". Either way, Umpire Watkin's finger was not required.



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Deeptesh Sen has put together a retrospective of the 'Tehelka Tapes', which morphed into the documentary Fallen Heroes. I'd forgotten or perhaps never known the New Zealand-related sliver here, specifically the allegation that skipper Sachin Tendulkar was persuaded not to enforce a follow-on against New Zealand in the test match at Ahmedabad in 1999 at the behest of coach Kapil Dev.

Former BCCI fish-head Jaywant Lele reckons this what happened: "Sachin went to the opposition captain Fleming, and told him that they had to bat again. He told the umpires that India was imposing a follow-on and told them to show a few balls to our opening bowlers for selection. From there, he walked to the dressing room and instructed Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad to select the new ball. They nodded, and as they spoke, Kapil Dev, the Indian coach, who was some distance away, shouted to Sachin, 'Captain no follow-on! Our bowlers are tired. We will bat.'" They did and the game petered out into a draw.

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READ: Osman Samiuddin on the Manohar in, Srinivasan out deckchair rearranging at ICC headquarters: "None of the three boards of India, England and Australia will want to give up a bigger share of revenue..."

HOPE: The 2016 NZ Radio Award finalists include the idiots from The Alternative Commentary Collective, nominated alongside Tony Veitch, Kenneth Johns and Rikki Swannell in the Best Sports Presenter/Commentator category. Can the septet of punishers win?

LISTEN: Tino Best talks to The Beeb about siblings, sixes and sex - Jim Maxwell's question about the playboy lifestyle is awkwardly brilliant.

READ: Simon Hattenstone's chunky profile of Jägerbomb fan Ben Stokes featuring his brassed-off Mum and the immortal quote: "Well, I was f***ing trying to bowl f***ing yorkers, you dickheads, I just didn't execute it!"

WATCH: Snedden to Chappell, cracks it down the ground, great fielding by the sub fielder, throw over the bails, run out. Not quite - check out this classic beige vs canary yellow footage.

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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