Cycling, good cricket, bad cricket, and freezing temperatures all add up to the first Good, Bad and Ugly, and a bit of bizarre of the New Year.
How can one go past Aaron Gate and his outstanding win in the NZ Cycle Classic?
The current track points world champion and four-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist shut the gate on his opponents, winning four of the five stages and setting up teammate Kiaan Watts for the other. Don’t be surprised if a prized Olympic gold hangs from his neck in Paris come August.
Also, a big cheer to race director Jorge Sandoval for getting the event off the ground after losing the previous naming sponsor, Trust House. Mitre 10 MEGA Masterton came to the party, and what a success with close racing from a quality international field.
Post Office Hotel Wairarapa showed maturity in chasing down Horowhenua-Kapiti’s big first innings score of 358, eventually declaring at 419–6 and keeping alive their slim chances of earning the district’s first Hawke Cup challenge in 12 years. Standing in their way are Cup holders Hawke’s Bay, but with coach Mark Childs at the helm, the one certainty is that Wairarapa won’t die wondering when the two teams meet at Queen Elizabeth Park Oval this weekend.
The Wellington Phoenix, propelled by in-form Kosta Barbarouses with eight goals in five games! Sunday’s 4–3 thriller over Perth sees them top the A-League equal on points with Melbourne Victory, but ahead with most wins [seven], setting up a blockbuster when the two meet at Sky Stadium on Friday.
Like many Kiwis, I follow a couple of teams in North American leagues – the Green Bay Packers in the NFL and the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL. With the “Pack” riding roughshod over the Dallas Cowboys 48–32 in the NFL wild-card round and the Canucks with the best record in the NHL after more than a decade of being rubbish, their inclusion in this column is justified.
Sorry girls, but the Southey Sayer Wairarapa Korus fit in after a poor eight-wicket loss to Taranaki in their Shrimpton Trophy game on Sunday after posting a meagre 116.
What is going on with the Wellington Phoenix women? Not aided by some goalkeeping howlers and an atrocious miss by the referee for a handball on the goal line in the loss to Brisbane, the Phoenix have suffered three straight losses and four out of the last five and slipped out of playoff contention.
The TVNZ+ cricket commentators, or more appropriately, cheerleaders, are nothing short of diabolical.
Where is the criticism of poor batting, bowling, or tactics, and the insight into possible future tactics?
All we seem to get is a description of what we can all clearly see, over-the-top reactions, a load of cliches from a commentator who can’t shut up, and little else.
Bring back Simon Doull – he might not be everyone’s cuppa tea, but he’s not afraid to criticise when it’s justified and has good foresight – and then there’s the doyen of cricket commentators Ian Smith, but then again, he’s across the Tasman making his Aussie colleagues sound decidedly second rate.
What more can you say about the NZ Breakers ANBL season?
After staging a mini-revival to move into playoff contention, the Breakers have been slam-dunked back to ninth with three losses on the bounce, including an ugly 105–76 bottom spanking from the Sydney Kings, sending their season spiralling into the ugly zone.
Let’s finish with the cold and a cracked helmet.
The Kansas City Chiefs hosted the Miami Dolphins in their AFC wild-card game in -20 degree Celsius temperatures [wind chill made it –32C], cold enough for plastic on Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’s helmet to crack, forcing a stop in play. Bizarrely, the replacement helmet was little better with the interior padding frozen because of the intense cold.