Thursday, 2 July 2009

Tomorrow the three unwise men name their All Blacks squad for the Tri-Nations. Here’s the team I’d line up against the Aussies at Eden Park in a fortnight:

Muliaina, Rokocoko, Smith, Nonu, Sivivatu, Weepu, Cowan, So'oialo, McCaw, Read, Ross, Thorn, Woodcock, Mealamu and Afoa.

Rokocoko and Afoa get in by default, I’d be tempted to give McAlister a run at second five-eighth to try to match the kicking game of Barnes, Weepu can’t do any worse than his two predecessors in the number 10 jersey and I think Read is a better long term bet than Kaino.

WG Grace is probably somersaulting in his grave and some of the old boys at Lords are no doubt aghast over their gin and tonics, but the suggestion that test cricket move to four day format is a good one for all but the purists.

I enjoy the thrust, counter-thrust and sub-plots of test cricket but have often pondered if the game expands to meet the time allocated to it? There’s a nice rounded logic in having four innings over four days. Or maybe over four day/nights?

Netball, like test cricket, is a sport I follow with a keen passing interest rather than a burning passion and, like test cricket, the seven-women code can be somewhat boring on occasions when the game is one-sided.

That was certainly not the case on Monday night when the Southern Steel dealt to the Adelaide Thunderbirds at an electric Edgar Centre. You could almost be forgiven for thinking you were back at Stadium Southland in the halcyon days of the Sting - with Donna Wilkins and Megan Hutton dishing out a bit of biff at either end of the court and Wendy Telfer and Adine Wilson roaming freely around the bits in between.

Much as she used to, when the Sting really stung, wily Robin Broughton kept the starting seven on for the entire game. Aussie Megan Dehn is now to the Steel what Robbie Deans is to the Wallabies, Katrina Grant could easily change her name by deed poll to Katrina Gazelle and pocket rocket Liana Barrett-Chase could teach Isaiah Toeava a thing or two about catching a ball on the run.

With no All Blacks to anguish over tomorrow, the netball will be a welcome respite!


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