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July 30, 2013

The World Cup and the Young Guns

Paul Ford
New Zealand PM John Key, Stephen Fleming, Waqar Younis and Grant Elliott at the World Cup launch in Wellington  © Getty Images
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We were stoked when the crew at the World Cup 2015 asked if we were keen to get along to their ritzy launch event in a darkened bar on the Wellington waterfront, surrounded by a plethora of outside broadcast vans that were airing live on national and international television.

It was excellent to see so many turned up with their embossed invites, given Wellington's burgeoning reputation as the place that puts the shake in Shaky Isles (and the launch venue being on potentially wobbly reclaimed land at the edge of Wellington Harbour).

We weren't stoked to be there because we are intoxicated by the thought of international cricketing stardom, or because we're moths to the celebrity flame of famous cricketing sons. No, we just liked the idea of having a couple of beers and doing our bit to endorse what we reckon will be a ripper international event.

We played a small part in the day's events, and we don't own flash enough suits or sufficiently floral ties to have made the cut for the powhiri and speeches at the waterfront. Instead, we were out on the concrete between white picket fences on an artificial pitch putting a light beige touch on a backyard cricket extravaganza with some local kids who'd taken a day out of their school holidays to be there.

Brilliantly, the children all wore face paint representing the flags of the 11 confirmed teams in the tourney (14 teams will eventually be Cup-chasing around Australasia in 2015) - this included some tykes from American embassy families who ended up "representing" Pakistan in the face paint stakes. Politically incorrect.

As the speeches wound down, the VIPs popped in for some BYC with a side order of paparazzi activity. Sir Richard Hadlee snaffled the tennis ball at one stage and bowled a gentle over of immaculate length, failing to secure the hat-trick but pocketing a double-wicket maiden nevertheless. Waqar Younis told reporters he didn't know how he bowled fast, while raconteur Jeremy Wells noted the overwhelming fragrance of choice for old cricketers appeared to be CK One.

The Kiwi prime minister, John Key, also popped in at one point and did a couple of interviews at cover point, forcing us to bolster his diplomatic protection squad with a couple of our more committed fielders to guard against rogue lofted cover drives to the back of his immaculately combed lid. This time around the PM didn't demonstrate any of his cricketing prowess, unlike back in 2011 when he faced up to Shane Warne.

The #cwc15 team has given us a taste of what they're about - and we liked what we saw. That's good, because despite 23 years having passed since New Zealand was last involved in hosting a massive cricketing event, the memories are strong and there are some bloody big white boots that have to be filled in 18 months' time.

Why? Because in New Zealand it is impossible to say those three words, "cricket World Cup", without conjuring up reminiscences of the cigarette-sponsored tournament back in 1992 when Martin Crowe wore his black-badged helmet and wielded his Duncan Fearnley in ways that made Kiwis burst with patriotic pride.

It was an incredible tournament for New Zealand cricket fans - and there were a hell of a lot more of them on by the time we fell at the Pakistani hurdle than a month prior when we banana-skinned a highly fancied Australian team at Eden Park.

The 1992 World Cup saw the players involved become our first legendary team since the hallowed XIs of the 1980s. Rowdy Roddy Latham, Six-Pack Dipak Patel, Willie The Wobbler Watson and the rest of the older-than-the-marketing-made-you-think Young Guns became national heroes.

The tournament in 2015 is unlikely to be the same, as expectations have been reset, but there are some healthy signs. For one, only the most optimistic Kiwi fan would have expected an even 50/50 split of games with the Australians as it could have very easily become a 75/25 arrangement.

Second, it's a great call to have the two host countries play their quarter-final and semi-final at home no matter what happens, and thirdly there are some quirky venues on the schedule to appetise the plethora of cricket obscurists out there: Saxton Oval and Manuka Oval anyone?

My one request is unsurprisingly a retro one - can we please re-use the theme song from the 1992 tournament, "Who'll Rule the World?" This anthem was dredged up by NZ Cricket on Twitter this week and it is absolute gold, and an earworm to boot. And in a totally low-key, relatively uncommercial 1992 way, nobody even knows who sang the damn thing...

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Paul Ford is a co-founder of the Beige Brigade. He tweets here

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Posted by Mob_King on (August 1, 2013, 2:47 GMT)

Beautiful nostalgia piece Paul, looking forward to hearing more about it from T-Bone Blain on the BYC podcast

Posted by Desihungama on (July 31, 2013, 19:23 GMT)

Any world cup matches being played on bouncy wickets of Australia and New Zealand are bound to be interesting and will create a perfect storm for the batsmen, as I am hoping for. My pick of the bowler will be M. Irfan of Pakistan, Malinga and Dale Steyn.

Posted by   on (July 31, 2013, 8:23 GMT)

2015 world cup is going to be interesting .The conditions and the stadiums there in australia and newzeland are awesome and fast pitches will add spice to the game .India is the defending champion which won the world cup in 2011 now it will be intresting to see if they win 2015 edition as well.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Ford
Paul Ford (aka Paul Holden) is a co-founder of the beloved Beige Brigade, the patriotic and long suffering Kiwi supporters' cult that is a bastion of things brown, tan, tongue-in-cheek and tenuously cricket-related. Paul lives in Wellington, somewhere between the Basin Reserve and Karori Park, and his favourite shot is the front-foot pull. @beigebrigade

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