Sport can get emotional.

Last-minute wins, last-second losses, title droughts broken, curses continuing. Injuries, retirements, crashes, records. There are a multitude of ways and plays where sport teases your senses; when it can make the blood boil and the heart sing.

But it is hard to imagine sport can get any more emotional than having a child who desperately wants to play, who needs to play, but cannot.

A few weeks ago, after I had written an article on the apparent inequities of sports funding in New Zealand, I received a call from a mother who has this problem. The only obstacles in the way of her son playing sport were a physical disability and a lack of opportunity for regular, sustainable competition.


It wasn't difficult to find a slew of people with a similar concern. Most of their collective grievances formed a arrowhead with the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation as the target.

This is where things get tricky. The Halberg DSF is one of those 'sacred cow' organisations that have the greatest corporate coat of armour imaginable: the name of a revered figure in their title.

The people who put their names to the criticism knew they were risking a lot but felt it was time to make a stand.

I heard and reported their gripes and I heard and reported, at some length, the response from HDSF chief executive Shelley McMeeken.

Stories like these are rarely black and white. The truth tends to lie in the grey area, in this case between the Halberg dissenters' often emotional criticism and the slick corporate responses. But having seen the HDSF response to the story - a deeply ironic, unattributed piece of penmanship - the dissenters' points look all the more valid.

The Halberg Foundation might well be an empty vessel, worried far more about image and marketing, its sponsors and donors, than it is about providing regular recreational activity for the very people it is set up to serve.

The fact that about $1.50 of the $20 note you have dipped into your purse to give to the foundation will directly go to disabled children and their families in the form of grants might be able to be explained away with terms like "advisory networks" and "system building", but rest assured it is not what these parents need.

The Halberg Foundation has the name, it has the awards, it has the lion's share of the money, it has the backing of Sport NZ and it has the PR machinery.

What it doesn't have is universal respect within this highly charged, emotive sector... and it clearly doesn't know how to deal with that.


While Bangladesh's test win over England was a momentous result worth celebrating, cricket authorities should recognise it is more evidence that test cricket has become a game where home advantage has way, way, way too much sway.

What you now have is 'western' teams - and I choose that word out of convenience rather than accuracy - travelling to the subcontinent and getting towelled, and subcontinent teams travelling to England, Australia, South Africa and even New Zealand and being similarly enfeebled.

Don't believe me, look at this table that looks at all series between the subcontinental teams and the west's four teams back to the start of 2014.

The results are ridiculously lopsided. Only Sri Lanka, 1-0 winners over England, and South Africa, 1-0 winners over Sri Lanka, have won away from home.

The score reads home side 29, away side seven. These are hardly contests, they're more like ritual disembowelments.

There will always be inherent advantages with playing at home, but those advantages have turned into near-sureties.

The ICC can make one immediate change to redress some of the lost balance. Abandon the toss and give the away team first option. Give it a shot for three years, see if it makes a difference. Otherwise the most cherished form of the game will continue to be an all-too-predictable mismatch.


From a story on comes the following nuggets. Even given the platform and audience, it seems to be straw-grasping of the highest order.

"While the Black Caps fell just short of completing an historic first series victory in India, the tour to the subcontinent confirmed the international status of two rising stars of the squad.

"Canterbury opener Tom Latham and Northern Districts all-rounder Mitchell Santner had impressive series with both the white and red ball...

"Santner in particular caught the eye of local good judges and Hesson confirmed the laid back all rounder was now 'highly regarded in India as one of the best they've seen in a long time'."

I get it: NZC and Hesson love Santner. That's cool. There's something about the way he plays cricket that is invigorating. The chances are he's going to develop into a fine player.

But come on man, let's be a little objective about his tour to India. He scored 159 runs in three tests at an average of 26.5. He took 10 wickets on turning tracks at an eye-watering 52.4. His left-arm orthodox counterpart Ravi Jadeja was almost totally eclipsed by teammate Ravi Ashwin but still took 14 wickets at 24.

In five ODIs, even with two not outs, he still averaged just 12.33 while compiling an anaemic 37 runs, and his three wickets cost 61.33.

That last figure is misleading, obviously. Santner's economy rate was an excellent 4 RPO. For this he should be rightly congratulated.

Talking about Santner as if he is the next coming of Garry Sobers, however, or even Daniel Vettori, is jumping the gun a bit.


An intro that gets right to the point. This Deadspin story is worth reading, both to admire those pioneering female sports journalists that had to overcome extraordinary sexism to do their jobs well; and also to highlight the sometimes degrading effects of alcohol.