Last weekend I attended the Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival. What a well organised, delicious and entertaining event. The only downsides were the two punishing admin-focused MCs and the weather. I was one of those MCs so that's an easy fix and the weather didn't matter because the stadium has a roof. Seven thousand Kiwis laughing, eating, drinking and talking about beer in a warm dry bubble. The best thing about this festival - it will never be rained off. Which got me thinking about domestic cricket in New Zealand. We have a few problems there. Namely weather, crowds, vibe and rugby. But what can be done?
How about a season launching festival of cricket that's guaranteed to go ahead rain or shine? The cricket equivalent of the Wellington Sevens. Which was of course a great event before it had its heart ripped out by nerds. I'm suggesting a 3 day 20 Twenty tournament at Forsyth Barr Stadium, yearly on the 3rd Friday of November. Aces v Kings v Stags v Volts v Firebirds v Knights. All the big names, head to head in a three day cauldron of cricket under a rainproof roof.
Of course there are problems that need to be addressed. 1 The ground is small and rectangular. 2 Dropping in a pitch that holds together for three days could be challenging. 3. It would need an amazing name. 4 The roof is low and the walls plastic.
So let's turn those weakness into strengths. A small ground means more boundaries and party people love boundaries. Who cares if everyone scores 300? This is entertainment, let's not get precious. Throw down a new astro turf each night. It won't be perfect but it will do.
Every kid has smashed a window growing up playing cricket in the backyard. So who wouldn't want to see the professionals smash the Forsyth Barr live? We could even put up a row of smashable million dollar prize windows high up over cow corner. Give the players something aim at.
The name is easy. It has to be 'The Undercover Super Spring Smash Big Royal Cricket Bash' weekend. Run it 9am to 9pm, 120 overs a day for three days.
Forsyth Barr is the perfect venue. Judging by the Craft Beer Festival, Dunedin and its wonderful stadium are open to cool events. Plus out of towners would flock in to join the party.
As for the players, a single weekend commitment is more than doable for our internationals. Surely we'd get 'Steady the Ship' Williamson, Guppy, Corey Corey Corey Corey Corey Corey Anderson, Ronchi Donkey, Mr Darcy, Santa's Little Helper, Little Lamb Nesham, Hairy Nipples, The Sodhi-Stream, Lovely Trenty and Southee the Sexy Camel. You might just coax The Hairy Jav, BMac and NMac back too. Bring them in from other countries as well. How good would Gayle, A B or Davy Dumb Dumb go under the roof at Forsyth Barr?
There's no doubt the cricket purists will hate 'The Undercover Super Spring Smash Big Royal Cricket Bash' weekend. There's a lot to hate. Luckily there will be plenty of serious cricket to savour later in the season. The USSSBRCB weekend would exist as a statistically meaningless good time season launch.
The Alternative Commentary Collective would be all over The Undercover Super Spring Smash Big Royal Cricket Bash weekend. We would cover it in our love. ACC head Grot Lane would be the first to sign up. From the mainstream I could see the great Ian Smith jumping on board too, he loves Dunedin and Sky Sport Commentator Scotty J Stevenson would have to be there. Waddle not so much.
Let's face facts, spring in New Zealand is soggy and every year this messes with the start of cricket season. At the other end rugby invades deep into Feb. The window for our summer sport grows ever smaller. That's why I believe NZ cricket should launch its season with an indoor spring bang. Let the current domestic competitions grow unhindered but New Zealand cricket as a whole would benefit from an exciting event that's guaranteed to go rain or shine. Big names, big bats and big holes in the walls of Forsyth Barr. Let's throw some diesel on the cricket BBQ. Let's get together and make 'The Undercover Super Spring Smash Big Cricket Royal Bash' weekend' a go. Who's with me?