ANY GIVEN MONDAY
Being a North Sea fisherman is a tough job. So too being a mother of three children under 5. Rabid cricket fan – ditto.
A difficult job is about to get even tougher with the start of the World Cup. At the bottom of the world, "day" matches start at bedtime, while the day-nighters finish over breakfast.
That is no way to maintain healthy relationships with your children and significant others.
Cricket fans are, by nature, prone to wild mood swings. An unscientific survey of my cricket-watching brethren suggests they tend to feel either terrifically upbeat or utterly funereal about the Black Caps' chances. A lack of vitamin D and the associated decrease in dopamine will tilt the optimist versus pessimist scales dramatically in the latter's favour.
Normally relatively well balanced and realistic (well, I would say that) when it comes to assessing the Black Caps' chances, I have surprised myself by how bleakly I have viewed the team's chances of matching the efforts of 2015.
I have hidden this pessimism behind a gossamer-thin veil of logic but lately, I've started to wonder whether it is just my mind's way of preparing for dark times (and by that I mean literally middle-of-the-night pitch blackness).
Where others are seeing a comforting half-full mug of hot chocolate, I'm seeing the half-empty dregs of a tepid cup of Bovril.
It's not healthy, so in a form of self-administered therapy I'm making a conscious effort to turn this pessimism on its head. I'm ditching Charlie Brown for Pollyanna.
New Zealand will win the World Cup. Here are just a few reasons why.
Run rates have trended up at alarming levels but New Zealand does not need to engage in all that frippery as they have a beautifully balanced bowling attack capable of defending sub-300 scores.
They've cleverly manipulated a horses-for-courses approach at the top of the batting order whereby, depending on conditions and opponents, they could opt for the crash-and-bash approach of Colin Munro or the more stoic reliability of Henry Nicholls.
And don't forget we have a revitalised Jimmy Neesham and the uncomplicated power hitting of Colin de Grandhomme to push the Black Caps to big totals when absolutely necessary.
Blundell scored a test century on debut, so has proved he is a man for the big occasion.
Another important factor in the Black Caps' favour is the tournament is in England with Duke balls. It's going to swing around corners, so a combination from Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson and Tim Southee are going to be, well, basically unplayable.
Nobody steadies a ship like Kane Williamson, who is due a big World Cup.
The list of reasons for New Zealand's inevitable
demise success could go on, but let's just say that if the Black Caps aren't stage-diving off the Lord's balcony into the arms of their gleeful supports in seven weeks from now it will be a shock.
Just writing this has made me feel infinitely more jazzed about New Zealand's prospects, so much so that I've reached high into the tree of verbs and plucked off "jazzed", which I'm almost certain will never appear under my name again.
A French dude once wrote that optimism was "the obstinacy of maintaining that everything is best when it is worst". Au contraire, it is pessimism that has proven obdurate. This optimism is liberating.
I look forward to spending darkened hours alone with just a paraffin lamp and Nasser Hussain's dulcet tones for company.
These seven sun-starved weeks will be, in their own way, enlightening.
Rugby officials cannot sit on the fence when it comes to the head. It's either sacrosanct or not. The tackle by Blues' fullback Melani Nanai on Crusader Richie Mo'unga during the weekend's borefest might have started at the shoulder but it finished at the head. It warranted action.
THE MONDAY LONG READ ...
I'm going to struggle to convince you this has anything to do with sport but it's clipped from a sports magazine and, in the wake of the Crusaders' South Africa 'scandal', it feels like a timely riff on the difficulties of restraint in the age of social media (and the complexity of how MSM interacts with said soshmed). And it has grizzly bears! From Outside .