21 February 2015

NZ v England, Wellington

Carnage. A day-night match that was wrapped up even before the stadium lights were required. Fewer than 50 overs needed for both innings. The best ODI bowling by a New Zealander, and the fastest fifty in World Cup history. So dominant was New Zealand in their eight wicket win over England, fans actually left the ground early rather than wait around for the winning runs to be struck. Whatever England is doing with its ODI team at the moment, it's certainly not working. But with individual performances akin to Tim Southee's 9-0-33-7 (which led to this crowd chant in his last over) and Brendon McCullum's boundary-laden 77 from 25 balls, nothing should detract from the utter ruthless dominance that New Zealand displayed. I can't quite bring myself to believe it, but perhaps the confidence this side has built up will actually allow them to compete with the likes of Australia and South Africa in this World Cup.

Southee bowls from the northern end
A full house at the Stadium
Yet another McCullum boundary

For what turned out to be a historic match, it was a bit disappointing to see the intrusion of ICC meddling, which diluted some of the presence and spectacle of the match. While the camera-work was tolerable, the absence of the steady-cam lady who zooms around on a Segway reminded attendees that Star TV have excluded nearly all of the excellent local TV crews in favour of imported cut-rate contractors. New Zealand camera crews are, I think, amongst the best in the world. But ultimately Star is able to do this because the Government specifically legislated to allow visa exemptions for events like this.

A source of much crowd dissatisfaction was the pig-headed decision to enforce a mandatory 45-minute dinner break during the New Zealand chase, despite the home team requiring only 12 further runs to win the game. At that stage the New Zealand run rate was a whopping 12.4, so if there had been a moment of sanity the game could have been allowed to play on and conclude within a mere handful of deliveries. Instead the Stadium resounded to a chorus of booing and perhaps a third of the crowd departed, robbing the huge win of some of the crowd support it deserved.

And during the unwanted innings break the likeable comedian Ben Hurley, who is often entertaining during New Zealand matches, had to compère a pointless foot race between spectators dressed up in giant costumes depicting World Cup sponsors: a giant TV, an inflatable soft-drink bottle, a mammoth trainer. A proud moment for international cricket, this was not. In fact, the somewhat sour taste of the enforced intermission was summed up by the sight of TV commentators Ian Smith, Shane Warne and Ian Botham preparing for their pieces to camera by the boundary, with the glimpse of a spectator's outstretched middle digits protruding into the shot.

Smith, Warne & Botham, and an unimpressed fan

Perhaps they were on day release

@CWCWhiteboard's message to the England fans

See also:
Cricket: NZ v Pakistan, 1 February 2015
Cricket: NZ v England (2nd test), 16 March 2013
Cricket: England v NZ (1st test, Lord's), 21 May 2008
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