March 16, 2010

Brydon Coverdale on Australia in New Zealand 2009-10

Exploring neighbourly possibilities

Brydon Coverdale

There would be a new twist to the rivalry between Richard Hadlee and the Chappell brothers © Getty Images

Flying from Melbourne to Wellington feels more like a domestic trip than an international voyage. Passports are not stamped, accents change only slightly and it’s a shorter flight than from Melbourne to Perth. Even when an Australian settles down in New Zealand, their TV screens show Aussie sights like Eddie McGuire asking million-dollar questions and Kevin Rudd answering queries of his own on parliament question time.

The two countries have their own distinct characteristics but share much more than not. The former New Zealand prime minister Mike Moore once said that Australians and New Zealanders had more in common than New Yorkers and Californians. Some of that goes back to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) of World War I but even earlier, in the 1890s, New Zealand considered joining the soon-to-be Federation of Australia. Even Fiji was in the mix to become a state, while Western Australia was a somewhat reluctant participant.

Obviously New Zealand chose to go its own way and WA joined, although the state did hold a referendum in the 1930s over the possibility of seceding. And that brings me to my point. What if the Federation of Australia featured six states – Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand – while Western Australia remained independent? What would that mean for the sporting landscape?

There would be no Michael Hussey in the Australian cricket team, and in years gone by Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh would have lined up against the baggy-green wearing Jeff Thomson, Greg Chappell and Doug Walters. The Australian side would have enjoyed the benefit of a certain Sir Richard Hadlee, while Daniel Vettori and Shane Warne could have bowled spin in tandem.

The underarm ball, which helped solidify the cricketing antagonism between the two countries, would never have happened. There would be no rivalry between the All Blacks and the Wallabies and the intertwined histories of the two nations’ netball sides would cease to exist. No, it’s better this way. Everyone needs a friendly rival, with whom competition is fierce and comradeship is even stronger. But domestic holidays in Fiji would have been nice.


Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Asad on (March 26, 2010, 16:31 GMT)

Think about Srilanka & Bangladesh.... Young blood of Bangladesh is committed and coming T20; they will prove themselves... SriLanka is proven..I guess it would be a good combo. Asad from USA.

Posted by Girish on (March 20, 2010, 7:06 GMT)

Churchill once said - "Give me the Indian Officers and Pakistani Soldiers i will win the world three times". I'd say a team with Indian Batsman and Pakistani bowlers would have challenged even the team under Clive Loyd.

Posted by Tim on (March 20, 2010, 2:19 GMT)

@Dave and Nitehawk. Haha good one. Daniel Vettori is an overrated cricketer, what an original insult. I guess that's why he's ranked as the #1 ODI bowler in the world, and already going down in history as one of New Zealand's greats. He's also the most prolific number 8 batsman in history, and is only the 8th all-rounder to make it to the prestigious 3000 runs, 300 wickets club. His best bowling figures in tests are 12/149, and 5/7 in ODIs. But yeah, he's rubbish.

Posted by Dingo_starr on (March 19, 2010, 23:37 GMT)

Yawn...hmmphhh.. A more exciting combo would be that of Netherlands and Denmark combining to form one trans-Vikings XI...I'd pay a dollar to watch 'em lads take it to the uber-intimidated oppositions. Heck, Kenya-Zimbabwe would have been kickass too...and the most awesome of all would have been, needless to say, the UAE-Afghanistan combo.. Wristy artistic Pak/ Indian discards and NWFP discards dishing it out to bewidered opponents. Wow what a sight it would have been...

Posted by John on (March 19, 2010, 7:57 GMT)

This is like wondering what it would be like if the USA and Canada were one...

For one, I wouldn't be surprised if baseball never caught on and Canada (the name would have caught on for the rest of the continent I reckon) would be a Test playing nation...

Posted by essam on (March 19, 2010, 6:35 GMT)

Absolutely ... :) India-pakistan wud have been equally fierce side... With the greatest hitters n the best bowling attack ever....! And mite be a lil better as well... :) however its JUst "if" in both cases... So wy care to talk about it ...!

Posted by Nitehawk on (March 18, 2010, 21:06 GMT)

If NZ and Aus has just one team, then this would be their impeccable lineup

RT Ponting*, MJ Clarke, DE Bollinger, PR George, BJ Haddin†, RJ Harris, NM Hauritz, PJ Hughes, MEK Hussey, MG Johnson, SM Katich, CJ McKay, MJ North, SPD Smith, SR Watson 12th Man: D.Vettori

Posted by Nitish on (March 18, 2010, 11:51 GMT)

I wish the same were true of India-Pakistan.

Posted by Dave on (March 18, 2010, 11:15 GMT)

If the two were a single cricket team Daniel Vettori would be the new Stuart MacGill, not worthy of even having an extra special whinge in Warne's shadow.

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Brydon Coverdale
Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.

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