As the NBA and one-dayers show, it's adapt or die.
Mark: My God, I've turned into you. All season I've been sitting back going, "Yeah the Highlanders, no probs, we'll be in the finals" and I've just been chillin'. But now we're there I've got Sir Alex Ferguson "squeaky bum syndrome". I know we pantsed the Chiefs last time out but man this one's making me second-guess my belief. I feel like it's a pretty simple case, though - win this one and you win the whole lot.
Andrew: *Kevin Garnett voice* ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! The Golden State Warriors have proven that the NBA isn't about big men any more and it's not about little point guards who can set everyone up; it's now about versatility, scorers and shooters and having options on a team that needs to go 10 deep because you'll never know what situations you'll find yourselves in during the playoffs and finals like Golden State just did. And I'm laughing at you about your high anxiety levels. You're scared aren't you? A little frightened that a team like yours might trip at the first hurdle. Well, welcome to the rollercoaster my friend and let's hope for your sake it's not just one loop-de-loop and you're off.
Mark: The thing with the loop-de-loop is that the descent gives you the momentum to climb to the top again. There is nothing worse than the Tower of Terror when you sit at the top for the whole time before coming crashing down. Is it the Tower of Terror or am I thinking of the Hurricane of Hell. Yes, I am indeed thinking of the Hurricane of Hell. Out of respect for you, I'd also at this time like to express my outrage at Andre Iguodala getting the NBA Finals MVP. I mean REALLY. I guess it does prove that you need to come from the winning team to be the Man of the Match, that I do agree with, but Iguodala? MVP for gifting LeBron James 40 points a game? Come on.
Andrew: Maybe the journos went with Iguodala because they really liked his back story and Lydia Ko wasn't available to vote for? It's a little crazy but the stat they looked at was the three straight wins they had over Cleveland when he was inserted into the starting lineup and then held LeBron to 38 per cent shooting when he was guarding him. Which is kind of like saying you slowed that runaway freight train to just under 100km/h just before it hit our bandwagon. I'm thinking that the runaway freight trains that have become ODI innings might need to be slowed down but yesterday's result proves we need more control with the ball from our pace attack. Right?
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Mark: Sort of. They need to be more than one-trick ponies, as well as more accurate. In the new age of attack, attack, attack, wickets are the key and when the ball's swinging we have a chance but when the ball's not swinging our lads end up like cannon fodder. I'm sure they have a Plan B, but they appear a long way from having an effective Plan B or being able to deliver said plan. Oh, and having Dan Vettori might be handy too. If this series has shown us anything it's that when the situation gets out of control, Dan's the man.
Andrew: You need to let go of the fact that Dan might return. He's old and has the lower legs of an octogenarian. What we do need is to realise that maybe England were just brilliant yesterday. The Plan B you're referring to that didn't eventuate must be when the movement in the air and off the pitch gave us no love. England's self-belief is there for all to see and they've worked it out like the Black Caps did. As the Herald's Andrew Alderson pointed out, our 349-7 is the most runs we've scored in losing an ODI and the series has now yielded 2688 runs with an average team score of 336 and run rate of 7.26. How is this a bad thing? Win or lose it's a smashing watch.
Mark: Nah, I'm not sold on it. Sure the Poms have found some new inspiration and sure there is some freaky good batting going on in this series but ODI cricket feels a bit like a boxing contest where one contender gets in the ring and gets a round to pound the hell out of the other contender who has his arms tied and then in round two they swap rolls. The winner is the boxer who can administer the biggest beating to his defenceless opponent. Yes, it's a contest, but it doesn't feel like the true contest of cricket - of bat versus ball.
Pros & cons...
...of New Zealand hosting a State of Origin game
Mark: It is not our Origin. Origin is an Australian phenomenon, it's an Australian rivalry and we have no right to have one played out here. In fact I'm dead against it being played anywhere other than in New South Wales and Queensland territories. Because Melbourne has a good rugby league team and an awesome stadium does not make it right to host an Origin game. Also, just because we are into league and would fill our 50,000-seater does not give us the right either. The more they farm this great event out, the more likely it is to lose its relevance. This is a great rivalry played between two great league territories for the right to boast who breeds the best. In fact, ensuring a three-game series can be played only in Sydney and Brisbane enhances what's on the line and the significance of winning. The winner gets two home fixtures the following year. And don't tell me they can't fill a stadium twice. They'd fill them twice over twice.
Andrew: It's not Melbourne's either and they only have a team there because they want just a small part of the market that's on offer in a crowded and highly resourced AFL scene. It bears no relevance to whether or not it's "ours" because we are, as a rugby league nation, heavily invested in such rivalries and the NRL is already giving back to us with the Nines, so why not a State of Origin game? It makes sense to have one every few years in Auckland. It's the biggest market for Kiwi fans and the large numbers of Aussies who would travel across the Tasman to see it and the influence of a game of this magnitude in a rugby market would not be lost on anyone in NRL HQ in Sydney. The only roadblock is the size of the stadiums. The MCG holds 91,500, so we would need seating for at least 60,000, leaving Eden Park with temporary stands the only option. League fans would be all over it like Billy Slater on a grubber kick. You need to open your mind and consider the benefits.