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Archive for the tag “cricket”

Book Review; Out of the Park

images-1An Autobiography by Craig McMillan and Neil Reid

I love the game of cricket, I love the history it has, and I love the mundane side of statistics. I have read a lot of books on the game however most have been specific to a country’s history, almanacs, about series, or high, (I mean lofty, big kahuna, heavenly) profile players of the game. I find cricketer’s biographies seem to have a self-indulgence that those from other codes have, and by this I mean they seem to be less modest, focused on stats, and have a common ingredient of wanting to hit back at someone. Even rugby players, the rough and tumble men of New Zealand sport seem to be somewhat self-effacing in comparison…

I have read (a few of) The Don’s, a great Hadlee bio, one of Richie Benaud’s, and a cracker one of Steve Waugh by the brilliant Peter Fitzsimmons, and in fact haven’t even read any on Warne. But through a chance meeting, and a gentlemen’s agreement I had to make the effort to read this one about one of NZ’s more maligned players…

in fact, I don’t ever remember a player ever  (if at all) drawing as much flack as Craig McMIllan, aka Macca.

I met Craig about 10mths ago when he asked for some assistance in setting up his iPhone and over that time I have visited him in the manner a doctor might make house calls. Truth be known, the iPhone, his iTunes, and his laptop should have been declared dead a long time ago but I finally got it to something that resembled a working setup that he could understand and use. By his own admission, he is somewhat of a technophobe.

Now, as an Aussie, and as a Cantabrian, Craig was an individual I loved and hated as I watched cricket during the period he played. He could smack the fastest and most accurate pace bowlers out of the ground, and treat even my hero, Warnie with absolute disrespect, and for this I loathed his fantastic skills. But, begrudgingly he was good…in fact he was fucken good, and did everything, batting, bowling, and fielding with consummate ease and what could only be described as an air of arrogance (don’t get me wrong, I love arrogance, it is a trait distinctly missing in a lot of NZ sportsmen and women).

But it was his brilliance which also became his albatross around his head. The Kiwi public, the most fickle of all sporting observers had the knives out at the ready to carve the man when he got out for playing a ‘rash’ shot and hung and quartered and tarred and feathered the guy in the press and on talkback radio. Never a mention of the bowler who may have been spanked to all corners, nothing about a top order who failed more than often, not even a mention to the brilliant and (often) match saving efforts of days before. The public had someone they loved but could just as easily sacrifice like a virginal offering.

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Book Review; Footrot Flats Sports Collection

Very popular in Australasia and in the UK, Footrot Flats was a comic strip devised by Kiwi Murray Ball which was printed in newspapers for close to 30 years. I remember reading it every day in the Christchurch Press and also owned a few of the 20-odd volumes that came out, almost yearly. It was turned into a movie (with a hit title song, personally Dave Dobbyn does my head in, but this a classic tune) in the 80s but it all came to an end when the muse for the main character, The Dog, died.

This volume is a collection of sports anecdotes which are so funny as they are so easily related to, especially by those of us who were week-day farmers and weekend warriors on local sports fields.

If those of you around the world can get your hands on any Footrot Flats, I recommend you do so although some of it will be lost on you.








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Book Review – Cricket’s Greatest Scandals

by Ken Piesse

tut, tut, Hansie

This was a very interesting book, and one that would be loved by anyone who follows sports, and a lot of the stories will also fascinate those who don’t follow cricket. Unless you have been in space the last 100 years, names such as Don Bradman, , Hansie Cronje, Dennis Lillie, Ian Botham, Mikle Gatting, and Shane Warne will be instantly recognisable, and each of these, plus more all appear in their own chapter on being ‘bad boys’. And just for good measure, there is a chapter denoted to Stephen Fleming, Dion Nash and Matt Hart from NZ for the ‘popt smoking’ incident. But more than the people themselves, there are the incidents; Bodyline, The Underarm, World Series Cricket, and match fixing. Even for those, like me who consider themselves pretty knowledgeable on the sport, this book will open some new revelations for you.

It is sectioned into a “First XI” and “Second XI”, the assumption the top-tier is more scandalous than the following, however I couldn’t help but feel that some of the stories in the second half were most befitting of being promoted up the order. And for good measure, there are a couple of appendices; the first a “Timeline of Trouble” and then “Big Bets” which chronicles betting in cricket and match fixes.

This is well written by a sports journalist, although I was wary after the first couple of chapters believing he may have been very-pro Aussie, but it very much levels out and shows the unbiased reporting that should be present amongst scribes. Good photos that bring back memories such as Lillie vs. Miandad, Walsh vs. Waugh, and Michael Holding kicking down the stumps (everyone remember that series?).

Book Review…Anything But An Autobiography


Richie using a retro
electric razor

This was a book I have passed by a few times in the library, and always meant to go back and get it out, and this time I made myself break away from my war-themed books and read it. Now, like just about everyone else, I am a huge fan of Richie Benaud, I don’t think there is a more knowledgeable and levelled commentator on cricket…well after you reads this book you will get an understanding why.
He is well educated, loves the game he has played and served almost all his life, and like “The Don” before him is one of the true ambassadors of the sport.
It is very good reading, and well documents his life, and more to the point, his cricket, and I was even amazed by the stats and facts thrown up chapter by chapter. It is unfortunate that I have read this now, and not closer to the time it was published as there were some predictions from the great man about Warne, Tendulkar, One Day Cricket and administration, he seems a true prophet.
It lost it’s way slightly at the end, but it takes nothing away from the book at all. It was surprising in his recollections there was no mention of the Underarm Incident, something to which his reaction was just as blunt as NZ Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s. I also half expected some thoughts on Billy Birmingham, but I guess he doesn’t need to say a thing, it adds more to the mystique of it all.
3 out of 5, but worth more for the insights into his career and stories from the inside. No one tells blow by blow his achievements in the sport other than Mike Batten.

Cricket Stats…

Shane Warne I may not be…except for the TXT, smoking, drinking, and general larrikin-ing about.

But here are some stats I found on my cricket career covering my time with the Avondale Cricket Club, The Mighty Centurians, and more recently, Swannanoa Cricket Club. I think there was too much cricket in my drinking!

Avondale Cricket incl. Mighty Centurions – Scroll down to Club Statistics/AllTime/List Of Players, and finally select Ozzy (I kept telling them it is Aussie!

Mighty Centurions

Swannanoa Cricket – Note: I also wrote the Code of Conduct for this club, however it must be duly noted that the version that appears on the website is not a true depiction of what I originally wrote up thanks to it being “Catholicised’ by Timmy Fulton!

Unfortunately records of my career post Avondale were lost in the Armageddon of ’02, but included a few seasons with Takapuna 1 Day 2’s (where even in my late 20s I was the oldest by years!), and Rep and Senior cricket with Hurunui, North Canterbury and Cheviot. I can tell you, highest score was 36 for Cheviot Seniors, and best bowling is shared between 4 for 4 off 4 against Hawerden (spin) in my first ever game, and 7 for 21 off 7 against Kaikoura (medium LH inswingers).

You will note that I have taken a single stumping – I will leave the telling of this ditty to my mate Mike Batten who was the bowler in this instance.

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