Who among us – except perhaps Brad Haddin – has no weakness for New Zealand? The Nice Guys World Cricket labels inspired a legion of devoted kiwi lovers with their healthy brand of undervalued efficiency, winning hearts and minds (and even an occasional trophy) along the way.
At present, there is no one who looks more longingly at the Black Caps and quietly proclaims “I want to be you” than England. They were not satisfied with the fact that a few years ago they based the overhaul of their one-day teams on a New Zealand band of derring-doers led by Brendon McCullum, but now they have decided to bring the shimmering sage T20 as their new Test coach. Indeed, has there ever been a more overwhelming case of Stockholm Syndrome than the one inspired by the 2015 World Cup in a tin can?
Given that McCullum and (born in Christchurch) the versatile Ben Stokes form a totem-tattooed pair responsible for the Test Party, it seems that England intends to go down, to say the least. Which most fans would probably agree is better than going down crying as it happens more and more often. But what will life be like under “Thriller Bees”? Let’s look for clues.
One of McCullum’s most memorable gambits was Mitchell Starc at the start of the World Cup final. Sure, he got stumps and New Zealand ended up being beaten up, but the principle is important. Stokes has a similar mindset. Whether it’s balls, bodies or lockers, they both like to break it.
McCullum took over as New Zealand captain after the botched removal of Ross Taylor, helping to heal the divided locker room and rebuild the team from one of its lowest points in recent times. Stokes takes the lead in England after one of the longest and most successful (technically speaking) captains in their history and with the team still completely behind his predecessor, Joe Root. He has a good job in his hands.
Playing with a smile
Central McCullum’s philosophy. It can be difficult for James Anderson.
If in doubt, write it down. McCullum has his international cap numbers on his shoulder; Stokes has them on his arm. McCullum has silver ferns on his chest; Stokes has one on his shoulder and the pride of a lion on his back. Both have honors to their wives and children among their body art. Get ready for Mark Wood, who will have his imaginary horse tattooed on his buttocks, Jack Leach etched 1 * in the neck, and Zak Crawley, who will discover some Maori heritage.
So here it is. The decline of the test in England was slow and painful, but now they will live fast (or attempt to kill the format). It’s time for all the members of the Burma Army to go out to have “Baz Boys 4 Life” on their biceps.
The Chennai Super Kings may not have a chance to win this year’s IPL, but their fans can celebrate even better: MS Dhoni is back behind the wheel. It may come as no surprise that Ravindra Jadeji’s short captain’s mission was unfortunate – all the more so, Light Roller suspects that the alpha “Dad’s Army” was lurking in the background. “In the first two matches, I simply oversaw his work and let him be later,” Dhoni said after he was reappointed for the rest of the season. “Then I insisted that he make his own decisions and take responsibility for them.” The local Mahi radiates strong arrogant paterphamilias vibrations, like a dad who reluctantly allows his son to try out the role of a map reader on a family walk. Now everyone is lost, and Dhoni adds regretfully, if we all die out here, then we know whose fault it is. Still, things to build a character for young Jadda.
Another lolz transformation comes from South Africa, where CSA attempts to remove Mark Boucher as head coach of the men’s team have failed due to allegations of past racist behavior. Never mind that the record was shocked – shocked! – to find that the mass recruitment of a group of former white players into managerial positions could provoke a response from those who believe that South African cricket has long been charged for equality. CSA’s efforts to address the examples of discrimination raised during last year’s hearings in Social Justice and Nation-Building then failed due to the unavailability of witness statements. The intentions are good, clear. However, it seems that before CSA can make a significant hole in historical racial injustices, it will have to change the reputation of historical administrative incompetence.