February 10, 2013

New Zealand

Nick Knight and the 'Lovely Eoin fan club'

Andrew Hughes
Eoin Morgan top scored for England with 46, New Zealand v England, 1st T20, Auckland, February 9, 2013
Fan club members have hounded Madame Tussauds to make a wax statue of Morgan  © Getty Images


I have seen some dull cricket matches in my time, but Saturday's Twenty20 match between New Zealand and England really took the plain digestive. Much was made of the strange proportions at Eden Park, but equally to blame was the concrete pitch. It was the sort of track that Virender Sehwag pictures when the team psychologist asks him to go to his happy place. Boom, bang, crash, boom, six, four, yawn. Then it was New Zealand's turn.

Dropped catches provided the only spontaneous excitement, and the best of those came from Mitchell McClenaghan. Former concert pianist Mitch knows that nothing cramps your ivory stroking style like a bunch of gnarled and knobbly digits, so he was understandably reluctant to impede the progress of the hard leather ball with his delicate pinkies. His look of perturbed innocence, as though he had been the innocent victim of physics, was text book.

Mitch wasn't the only fringe player knocking about the place; the rotation policy even extended to the commentary box, where one Nicholas Knight had been called up. Nick used to play cricket himself, but is perhaps best known as the founder, chairman and head cheerleader of the "Lovely Eoin Fan Club". He regularly bombards the editors of literary magazines with sonnets, haiku and villanelles inspired by the little chap, and is hoping to earn the right to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest with a plaintive ballad of his own composition entitled, "Eoin, Why Won't You Return My Calls?"

So when the aforementioned centrally contracted ginger-haired wizard of one-day cricket took a reasonably difficult catch while Nick was on air, there ensued what can only be described as a volcanic verbal ejaculation that at first sounded like the mating cry of a wildebeest with a sore throat, then left the viewers concerned that Nick might have swallowed the microphone and be unable to continue.

"Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!" he screamed, jumping up onto the table in the commentary booth, demolishing the delicately assembled playing-card model of Eden Park that Ian Smith had spent the previous 20 minutes erecting. To add insult to injury, Smith was required to fill in while Nick was rendered speechless with ecstasy.

"He was in the perfect position to take that catch," explained Ian, by which he meant, for the uninitiated viewer, that Eoin had arranged to be standing in the approximate vicinity of the ball's expected area of landfall, the better to enable him to catch said object. Had he been standing further away, you see, he might not have been able to do so.

But whilst the men in blue were winning the Battle of the Bludgeon, when it came to commentary, the home side were running rings around their English counterparts. New Zealand understatement is a commentary genre for which I have a new-found respect, my favourite being this profound summing up by a philosophical Scott "Scotty" Styris:

"New Zealand haven't been winning as much as they'd like."

Translate that into Latin, stick it under a silver fern and you've got yourselves a motto.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Keywords: Commentary

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Si on (February 14, 2013, 4:07 GMT)

Interesting post, 'Ian'...Knight? I've read Andrew's blog for some time now and it strikes me that he already writes short stories. I think it IS Cricinfo's intent to provide comic relief via this outlet as there are pages and pages of dry fact and stat based reports of games etc found elsewhere on this site. Andrew's vivid description of Knights over enthusiastic commentary gave me a reference point for last nights Aus v WI T20 commentary from James Brayshaw who tried to escalate our 'excitement' at a Pollard pull shot by audibly taking a deep breathe and screaming 'BANG!'. Completely irrelevant commentary, even for the blind who heard the crack of the bat through the stump mic. Less criticism of bloggers where there's plenty of choice and more derision of TV commentators like Nicholas, Slater & Lee, whom were convinced to dance at the beginning of the coverage of Aus v WI T20.

Posted by Luke on (February 13, 2013, 13:55 GMT)

@Ian, you seem to be laboring under the, also amusing, misconception that this blog is a news article. Perhaps you might want to reconsider writing posts about anything when you understand so little about writing yourself.

PS. You can find the match report on the main cricinfo page, in the future you might want to look at that stunningly obvious place for factual reports rather than in the clearly labeled blog section.

Posted by Omar on (February 11, 2013, 4:08 GMT)

Ha, ha, that would be some motto!!!

Posted by Ian on (February 10, 2013, 22:56 GMT)

Apart from an obvious ability to wax lyrically with sarcastic hyperbole, I suggest Mr. Hughes' actual cricket watching and commentary on the subject (cricket) is of a quality rather less than advertised. His description of events only vaguely reflect what actually happened during the match. I suggest he tun his attention to writing short stories (fiction). If Criconfo's purpose is to provide comic relief - then well done. If however it is to provide the reader with some sort of accurate account of events, albeit laced with sarcastic humour, they might want to reconsider their choice of 'journalist'.

Posted by Anonymous on (February 10, 2013, 12:21 GMT)

Writing an playing cricket are two different ball games. So very well written than well played

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Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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