What exactly is the point of New Zealand?

The below first appeared on the http://www.thefulltoss.com in February 2013.

When the Colony of New South Wales was proclaimed in 1788 the boundaries included “all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean within the latitudes of 10°37’S and 43°39″S”. Much to the annoyance of modern Kiwis this included all of the North Island and about half of the South Island. Indeed, New Zealand was legally (and administratively) a part of New South Wales (Australia) until 3 May 1841.

A 2010 poll suggested that 41% of New Zealanders are “open to the idea of becoming a state of Australia”. Respondents suggested that a merger would improve New Zealanders ease of travel to Australia, as well as their ability to defend themselves. TFT can only assume that the fear of a penguin invasion is a pressing political issue way down under.

Some Kiwis are sensitive about such talk, maintaining that New Zealand is not even part of the continent of Australasia, and that instead its belongs to the (submerged) continent of Zealandia. Some New Zealanders, it seems, don’t accept such things as the definition of a continent as a “land mass”. Indeed, rumour has it, they are petitioning the IOC for an additional Olympic ring!

On the sports front, New Zealand are ridiculous good at Rugby Union. Which has always struck me as odd, given that they are essentially a nation of Scottish immigrants with uneven tans. Why are they so good when Scotland have been so ordinary since the retirement of Gavin Hastings? The answer: Polynesians. Scientists believe that if it wasn’t for pacific island genetics providing high twitch muscle fibre then New Zealand would do worse internationally than Lithuania.

Which brings us neatly on to their current cricketing woes. Despite picking as many South Africans as England (they are canny, these Kiwi selectors) New Zealand were recently dismissed for 45 in a Test match. This despite winning the toss and electing to bat. The entire innings took less than 30 overs with only one New Zealander making it to double figures – Kane Williamson with 13.

The Kiwi’s only world class player is Ross Taylor, which is ironic really given the rugby theory cited above; Taylor is, of course, a man of Polynesian heritage. Despite his talent they recently sacked him as captain in favour of a man with more tattoos than Edinburgh Castle; as a result, Taylor withdrew from the team. However, as a better man than Boycott, the pugnacious Taylor has now returned – although one cannot help but feel the selectors have done the tattoo loving McCullum no favours. The situation reminds me of the dire and hopeless one Alex McLeish inherited at Nottingham Forest. It will not end well.

"The black Shane Bond"
“The black Shane Bond”

New Zealanders like to talk about the fragile Shane Bond. Not true: Kiwikind like to talk about the fragile Shane Bond a lot. I met an particularly fine example last week who described Malcolm Marshall – in my opinion the best bowler I have ever seen play – as “the black Shane Bond”. Have they forgotten that Bond only played a paltry 18 tests?

James Franklin, a much better example of Kiwi fast bowling, has played nearly twice that (and counting). This despite a bowling average of 40+ in ODIs – a record which has prompted him to turn himself, as a club cricketer might, into a batsman. His Test batting average – just for your information – is 20.71. He’ll bat at 6 against England nonetheless, because he’s the best New Zealand have.

On the bowling front, they still have the octogenarian Chris Martin (that fabulously crap number 11) and Jeetan Patel, who I’ve always rather rated – even though the Kiwis themselves maintain he is a poor man’s Xavier Doherty.  He has a Test bowling average of 46.

Consequently, for the good of the game of cricket, New Zealand should assume it’s inevitable long term position as a state of Australia. If not – in the interests of a fair contest – the MCC should send the Ladies team next time England are due to tour. Minus Charlotte Edwards of course; they’d never manage to get her out.

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