A fascinating game of cricket

Today’s one day match between England has taken a few swings, and is heading for an exciting finish.

England’s innings started with a rush and the Black Caps struggled. It looked like England could get close to 400, but they had a major mid order collapse, and they got to 335 with a big last over.

The Black Caps had a terrible start to their innings, with both openers going for a duck.

Williamson and Taylor slowly got things in order and progressed well, albeit falling behind the required rate. Then Williamson was unlucky to be ruled out.

In came Latham, and he and Taylor gradually progressed to innings to keep the Black Caps in the match, and then accelerated.

A couple of hiccups, with Taylor injuring himself so he could only hobble, and then Latham holed out, but he had 71 runs, and helped Taylor to a record score of (currently) 155 not out with a game rescuing 187 run partnership.

de Grandhomme has joined Taylor and has started with a rush, currently 22 runs off 8 balls, putting the Black Caps in with a real chance now with 36runs required off 34 balls.

That was tense. Down to the last over, a six to Nicholls to seal a record run chase and a win to remain unbeaten at the Oval in Dunedin.

Taylor was the stand out performer, 181 not out.

Two medals at Winter Olympics

Great news from the Winter Olympics, with two 16 year olds winning bronze medals today, doubling New Zealand’s all time medal tally.


RNZ: Sadowski-Synnott wins first medal for New Zealand in Pyeongchang

New Zealand snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott has won a bronze medal in the women’s big air competition at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

It’s New Zealand’s first medal of the Games and just the country’s second Winter Olympics medal ever, following skier Annelise Coberger’s silver medal at the 1992 Albertville Games.

Sadowski-Synnott scored 65.80 in her first run, but rocketed into third spot when she posted a score of 92 in her second run and held on.

RNZ: Second medal for NZ: Nico Porteous wins bronze in freeski halfpipe

Nico Porteous, 16, has won bronze for New Zealand in the freeski halfpipe at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.


Federer wins Australian Open

Roger Federer has won the Australian Open against Marin Cilic, his twentieth Grand Slam victory.

A pretty good result for a 36 year old.

Remarkably Federer is still ranked world number 2 (Cilic is ranked 6th).

New Zealand lose to Fiji in League World Cup

Last week New Zealand lost to Tonga in the league World Cup.

Tonight they lost to Fiji in the quarter final. They couldn’t score a try – the final score was 4-2 to Fiji. Good for them, woeful for the Kiwis.

That’s a terrible outcome, but the whole tournament has not been riveting. I guess the only plus so far is there are more than two or three teams that are capable of getting into the final.


From news.com.au:

The lead story on Australia's news.com.au.

NZH: Reaction is swift and savage to Kiwis’ shock loss to Fiji

Rugby league fans and world media are reacting to the Kiwis’ shock loss to Fiji, calling it disappointing and embarrassing.


New Zealand lose to Peru

New Zealand’s All Whites had a praised 0-0 home draw in the first leg of a Football World Cup qualifier, but were undone 0-2 by Peru in Lima. Given the big difference in world rankings this was creditable albeit disappointing loss for New Zealand.

It was always going to be difficult for the All Whites. They don’t have the benefit of playing much together – whoever happens to be available are collected from around the world not long before big games. This is far from ideal for team building.

Peru was ecstatic, it will mean their first world cup appearance for three decades. Reports suggest it was a deserved win for them. Good on them.

The All Whites are likely to continue to struggle in a very competitive football world, with our best players spread around the globe. They are ranked currently 122 – Peru is 10, so a two nil loss doesn’t seem too bad.


New Zealand v Peru

The much lower ranked New Zealand football team has been praised for holding Peru to a 0-0 draw in Wellington in the first leg of a world cup qualifier.  So the teams have flown to Peru for the second and deciding leg on Thursday.

New Zealand will still be underdogs, but they are in with a feasible chance.

NZH: What the All Whites need to do to qualify for the World Cup

They will be heading into Thursday’s second leg in Lima having kept a crucial clean sheet at home.

Here’s what the All Whites need to do to in the second leg to qualify for the World Cup in Russia next year.

Benefit from the away goals rule

The All Whites will progress to the World Cup finals with any kind of win on Thursday, whether it comes during normal time, extra time or penalties.

But thanks to the away goals rule, they could also make it through with a draw.

World Cup playoff ties are decided by the aggregate score over two legs. But in the event of a draw, the team that scores more away goals will qualify.

This means the only score that will lead to extra time and potentially penalties will be another goalless draw after 90 minutes.

By not conceding at home in the first leg, the All Whites will take a slight advantage into the second leg – knowing that any goals scored in Lima will also act as a tiebreaker.

If the score does remain 0-0 at the end of normal time in the second leg, the match will go into extra time where the away goals rule will still apply. If the match is still goalless after that, the tie will be decided by a penalty shootout.

So a draw will get New Zealand through as long as they score at least one goal. That will still be very difficult against Peru, as will limiting Peru to scoring no more goals than New Zealand, but the dream is alive.

Free to air sports another policy no-go

A New Zealand First policy and claimed bottom line of showing major sports events including All Black test free to air looks to be a non starter with the incoming government.

NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell in January:  Billion Dollar Sport Spend Deserves Payback To Kiwis

Kiwis are forking out nearly a billion dollars annually to fund sport and recreation but can’t get any payback with free on-screen broadcasts of sport, says New Zealand First Sport and Recreation Spokesman Clayton Mitchell.

“In 2015 councils around the country spent $873 million on sport and recreation and taxpayers provided another $85 million to provide the best coaching and support our athletes required.

“But when our sports stars feature live on screen most Kiwis don’t see them because they do not subscribe to Sky.

“This is doubly unfair because Kiwi taxpayers support state television and then pay again to a private company for live sports broadcasts.

“To sort out this injustice, New Zealand First will ensure major domestic sporting fixtures, World Cup matches and Trans-Tasman grand finals with Kiwi teams and sports people, are back live on our screens in free-to-air broadcasts.

“All Kiwis should be able to see our sport stars when they compete,” Mr Mitchell says.

In March:  Free-to-air sport bill by Clayton Mitchell fails at first reading

Sports fans aren’t going to be able to watch major events live on free-to-air television, despite the best efforts of NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell drafted the member’s bill to amend the Broadcasting Act and on Wednesday night it came up for its first reading.

Parliament adjourned just before a vote was taken, but with National and Labour opposing it there’s no doubt about the outcome – it will be heavily defeated.

“This is important, it’s about treating all New Zealanders fairly and equally,” Mr Mitchell said when he kicked off the first reading debate.

Government MPs said the bill was “populist pandering”.

“Nothing is free, someone has to pay for it,” said Brett Hudson.

Labour’s Trevor Mallard said there was no way the bill could pass.

“No government is going to take $125 million a year off sport, that comes from broadcasting rights. The member’s heart is in the right place, it’s a pity his brain wasn’t engaged.”

June (NBR): NZ First MP says free-to-air sport will be an election issue.

It wasn’t.

Early this month: Free-to-air sport may be another ‘bottom line’ for Winston Peters

Newshub tonight showed footage of an old, unpublished interview in which the NZ First leader promised he would make significant sporting events free-to-air.

Speaking at the Karaka race horse sales in January this year, Peters told Newshub that “I’m not going to say we’re going to try and implement it – we will implement it”.

“Everybody that’s dealing with Winston Peters and NZFirst knows we intend, as in the past, to keep our word. So they should stop humbugging around. We don’t go making promises we don’t keep. We will deliver.”

NZ First policy: Broadcasting and ICT

  • Amend the Broadcasting Act to recognise sport as part of the New Zealand identity and to broadcast Games of National Significance live and on free-to-air television.

Today:  NZ First policy for free-to-air All Blacks tests a no-go under coalition agreement

Labour has ruled no-deal on the possibility of free-to-air All Blacks’ tests, or other major national sporting events.

NZ First leader Winston Peters earlier in the year said a law-change to provide free-to-air rugby would be the price of NZ First’s support in forming a government, though it’s one National is believed to have also refused to bend on.

Labour has moved to scotch any anticipation the policy might be written into the final agreement, following comments from NZ First sports and recreation spokesperson Clayton Mitchell that it was “still on the table”.

Mitchell said in the interview on Saturday it was discussed in coalition talks, and the prospect of Kiwis getting free-to-air access to significant sporting games was still on the table.

A spokesman for Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern has confirmed it was not in the agreement.

I had serious doubts whether this policy would survive common sense negotiations. I’d love more free-to-air sport but I don’t think the Government should be financing it.

Mixed messages coming out of the parties going into Government together.

Ardern has also said that Labour policy on immigration remains intact, meaning drastic reductions promised by Peters also look like not happening.

It was inevitable that some NZ First (and Green policies wouldn’t make the cut).

Details of the governing agreements will be released on Tuesday, but some are being leaked.

All Blacks lose to the Wallabies

The All Blacks have lost their second test of the season 23-18 (the also lost one to the British and Irish Lions), in the third of the year against the Wallabies, in Brisbane. The ABs had won easily in the first test in Sydney but only just came out in front in Dunedin a week later.

This was a ‘dead rubber’, the Bledisloe Cup had already been won for the season, but it will have (or should have been) a severe blow to All Black pride. But overall it shouldn’t do them any harm, being reminded of the hurt of losing can help drive teams to win.

It was a big win for the Aussies, who have been under a lot of pressure this year but are improving. Good on them.

This is obviously an excellent result for the Wallabies and for Australian rugby. It is also good for the game worldwide.

I didn’t watch the game so I won’t comment on specifics of the game. It was too late for me to be bothered going out and watching it, and I’m still refusing to pay Sky exorbitant amounts for single games and also won’t pay a subscription for a lot of crap I don’t want just to be able to watch what I do want to see.

I see that the All Black business is going to offer pay-per-view internationally for the tour of Europe, starting shortly. Sky will supply the feeds via streaming. I could be tempted, but at $24.95 a game that’s still a bit steep. The Maori All Black games are more reasonable at $14.95 but I’m not as interested in watching them – with so much rugby on these days I’m a lot more selective in what I watch.

All Blacks v Springboks

I’m glad I got up to watch the test between New Zealand and South Africa at Cape Town this morning. A classic match.

The ABs were relentless at times but made a lot of mistakes and failed to capitalise on their dominance. The teams were barely separated after a 50 minute first half.

Then the second half was absorbing. The Springboks started well and took the lead, and the lead kept changing from there. A couple of very good All Black tries, but the Springboks kept coming back. In the end a 25-24 scoreline was a fair enough reflection on how the game went, but it could easily have gone either way.

Commentators complained about the red card but I think that was the only option. A deliberate late charge with forearm contact to the head had to result in marching orders. It would always have been a yellow at least so it made no difference to the final outcome, apart from giving the All Blacks what turned out to be a crucial 3 points.


All Blacks v Springboks

It’s been a good year for rugby. First the Lions tour, drawn. Then Australia came very close to upsetting the All Blacks in Dunedin after a great come back from a poor first test.

Tonight the ABs get to test themselves against a resurgent Springbok team. This is the last home game of the year but it should be a good one.

It’s good to have a diversion from the election campaign.