Monday, January 10, 2011

Dear Black Caps

Dear Black Caps. For years I have been a supporter and lover of NZ cricket. What I witnessed yesterday has tested that more than any other performance I have seen in recent times. Against a reasonable Pakistani bowling attack, you capitulated pathetically. This, the day after a number of you were snapped up for good money by Indian T20 teams. You should be ashamed of yourselves. This season you have been trounced by the world's second worst side Bangladesh, smashed in the one-dayers in India, and out of character, performed well in two tests in India. Why should I bother watching you again?

There are basics cricket is based on. Here are some you might like to consider:

1. When the ball is on the stumps, you defend. If it is short, you go onto the back foot and defend it. When it is pitched up, you step forward.
2. When you step forward, you lead with your head. MacIntosh, you need to go and get someone to throw a million balls to you and teach yourself this.
3. When the ball is wide of the off-stump, you leave it, at least until you are well settled and know the pitch and are in. This means, as Andy Moles put it, you give the bowler a half hour to settle in. You don't need to dominate the first 30 minutes. Leave the ball alone when it is wide of the off stump.
4. When you are running between the wickets, there is no need to take silly singles in test cricket. It is pointless. Sure, if there is a run chase, go for it.
5. When you are playing in test cricket, keep the ball on the deck. There is no need to wack it over the top. Sure, later in your innings you can do so. Or, in a run chase, you may be more daring.
6. Have you heard of playing in the V? That is that area from mid-on to mid-off. If you are batting well, you will be driving into these areas off front and back foot. Remember Martin Crowe? He did this consistently. Drove the ball straight, in an arc from extra-cover to mid-wicket.
7. Time is your friend in test cricket. It is a strange thing, but the longer you bat, the easier it gets.
8. When bowling, note the field you have, and bowl to it. If you are have a 6-3 off side field, that means bowling on the off stump.
9. Don't bowl on the legs of Pakistani batsmen. You may have noted over the last 100 years of test cricket, that Pakistanis and others from the sub-continent love it there. Bowl on or outside off stump.
10. When the ball is hit in the air and you can catch it, catch it. If you find you can't, practice more. It is funny how hours of fielding practice finds you better at fielding.
11. Be relentless when you bowl. Give them nothing. On a length with some variation. Hours and hours of it. You don't need to be quick or turn the ball square. Just put it there and it will come. Test cricket is a relentless game of wearing down the other team. For the last 15 years you have been giving them away on a plate. Grow up!

Most of these ideas are old fashioned but they are tried and true. I saw a side recently do this really well. It was the English Ashes team. They bowled relentlessly, they caught every catch, they batted with complete discipline, they triumphed.

You have the talent, but what you are doing is pathetic. Why should a fan like me keep watching? Why?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010-2011

So 2010 is over. It was a big year. There were a few eruptions notably the Icelandic Volcano eruption which messed up European travel, surely they could have started flying earlier? The best thing about it was the name of the mountain, Eyjafjallajokull… yeah baby, pronounce that! Avatar was released, smashing all records and setting the scene for 3D movies big time. There were disasters like the Haiti earthquake which was horrific in January, with 230,000 killed in the event, and who knows how many since, the place is still a disaster. Later in the year our own Christchurch was hit with the same sized quake, and no one died. Such is the difference between the poor in the third world and the rich in the first world. In China in April a smaller quake of 6.9 saw 2,689 killed; kind of proves the point. A huge one hit Chile, 8.8, with 521 killed. The Pakistan flood which killed 1,700 people. There was the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which messed up the ecosystem, have we stopped buying BP yet? Then there was the Pike Mine disaster in NZ with 29 killed and still in their burning tomb. Compare the Chilean amazing mine rescue. Our future king William has found his bride Kate Middleton, phew, the monarchy is in good hands, and so we will all be ok; Not! I am finding myself increasingly republican! Obama tried and sort of got his health care reform through in the States. It seems it is causing an enormous anti-Obama, anti-tax tea party, will he get a second term? He certainly got a 'shellacking' in the Primary's but things are actually going well for him since. Will the Tea-Party produce the next Pres, Sarah Palin? Could be a classic if it does. Over the ditch Julia Gillard rolled Kevin Rudd and held on by a slither in the election. Girls can do it. But we knew that, Helen Clark? Thailand was full of protests with the red shirt resistance, seems it didn't gain a lot. The Poms got a new government too, a coalition, we know what that feels like. The iPad was launched, another luxury that will soon be a necessity! Consumerism roles on although the world economy is a mess and who knows where that will lead? The world weather seems all over the place, floods here, freezes there, is it human-caused global warming? Will it be too late when we agree it is? The global problem of Islam-west relations go on with foiled terrorist threats, a pastor threatening to burn the Qur'an, the US and Britain in the Middle East, and more. Where will this go in 2011? The WikiLeaks have stunned the world and thrown us into a spin trying to work out if Julian Assange is hero or villain. Probably a bit of both. And for good measure, the Koreas are at it again, ready to blow themselves up, and to draw the world into nuclear fun and games… mÄ“ genoito ('may it never be' – it is in Romans a lotJ). In NZ we saw Chris Carter self destruct. Mind you, he was not the only one with Pansy Wong, Shane Jones and others embroiled in controversy. The best was David Garrett who stole a babies identity! GST went up to 15% further reinforcing the fleecing of NZers with the huge array of taxes, levies, rates and other taxes. Can this go on? Paul Henry was axed, which in my view was shame, because without him Breakfast is boring as. But they are politicians, that's what they do. We nearly lost the Hobbit, a classic example of people choosing the wrong target for what was probably a good cause. More cops died, more cyclists were killed, the car crashes go on as does binge drinking. Nothing has changed.

In sport, Spain won the Fifa World Cup. The All Whites were really the best there though, the only team not to lose. What a brilliant year for them, they will sweep the Halbergs I would hope. Raphael Nadal is most certainly number one in the world. The demise of Australian cricket goes on, losing the Ashes at home. The only teams worse are NZ, Pakistan and Bangladesh! The Pakistanis were busted from fixing games, mind you the NRL is no different. The Storm was stripped for salary cap breaches, they are surely the only ones to get caught. The Dragons won the NRL, Wayne Bennett is a legend. Will the Warriors ever win this thing? The All Blacks dominated rugby, as they always do between world cups, is this their year? Tiger Woods dominated off the course, but was rubbish on it. I am not convinced he will ever be the same. We won a few soft medals at the Commonwealth Games, my fav was the netball, what a cool end, especially the celebrations. The league was pretty good too, isn't Benji even better and B.I.N.G.O the dog. He is a freak. Should get him to switch codes and link up with Sonny Bill, another freak. My other fav was Nikki Hamblin, but our family knew she was quick cause our youngest raced her a fair bit when she arrived in NZ and we saw her wicked kick! Oh yeah, then there is Nick Willis, it was a good third in a good race.

For me, it was a great year in many ways. I got a book published What's God Up To On Planet Earth and it is going into the US market soon. I also had a few other essays and articles published. I got a contract to write a commentary for Philippians which is well under way, for the EEC series. Emma and I had a glorious trip through Europe, what a blast full of never forget moments. I continue to have a great marriage, three wonderful kids who are going for it, a great church, a glorious God who blesses me, and a great place to work (most of the time!).

My wish for 2011:

  1. That I would serve him with all my being.
  2. Good health for me and my family.
  3. Another great year of marriage.
  4. That my kids blossom and find their place in the world.
  5. That God would provide all our needs.
  6. That God's blessings would be on everyone and his dream of peace on earth and eternal relationship with every human would come to pass… worth saying even if it will never quite be J

Aside from that, I have one wish:

  1. That the All Blacks would win the World Cup.

Is it ok to pray for this?