A cricket fan's New Zealand survival guide

Paul Ford
A cheat sheet to help the visitor understand the idiosyncrasies of the New Zealand sports fan in his natural environment

Leaping into the water would be a "choice" thing to do when in New Zealand © AFP

The basics

Sobriquets: If you hear that you're in Aotearoa, Godzone, Land of the Long White Cloud or God's Own Country, don't freak out. You're not lost: these are all nicknames for New Zealand. You should also know that when you hear the word kiwi, it may be referencing the flightless bird, a person from NZ, a furry fruit, or the New Zealand dollar.

Flags: Do understand the differences between the New Zealand flag and the Australian flag. Both are blue and have a Union Jack in the top left corner. The NZ edition has four red stars, representing the crux australis or Southern Cross constellation. The Aussie version has six white stars.

Teams: Heaps of New Zealand sporting teams have a moniker that includes the word black or silver: All Blacks (rugby), Black Caps (cricket), Silver Ferns (netball), Black Sox (softball), Iron Blacks (gridiron), Black Sticks (hockey), Black Ferns (women's rugby), Black Fins (surf lifesaving), Wheel Blacks (wheelchair rugby), Tall Blacks (basketball) and Blackjacks (bowls). Things famously went off the rails when New Zealand badminton rolled the dice and tried to become the Black Cocks. It didn't last long.

Geography: There are two main islands: the North Island and the South Island, which are separated by a challenging strip of water (and a bloody expensive one to cross by boat or plane) called the Cook Strait. The latter is often referred to as the Mainland as it is larger in size. It is also perceived as tougher and less posh. You will blow locals' minds if you can name any other islands in our island nation such as Stewart Island, the Chatham Islands, Great Barrier Island, d'Urville Island or Waiheke Island.

Don't say:
Don't say: "You mean those rocks south of Australia are a country?" © UniversalImagesGroup

Prime minister: Our PM is a bloke called John Key, recently re-elected for a third three-year term. He once hit Shane Warne for three boundaries in a low-intensity charity cricket match at the Basin Reserve. "Be gentle, son," he told Warne, and the eccentric Australian tweaker obliged.

Cricket culture

Criticising the Black Caps is a national sport: The team have been whipping boys in the eyes of the sporting public for large periods of their history. Like most NZ sporting teams, they suffer from a sporting milieu dominated by the All Blacks, the national rugby team who have won 75% of their matches over the past 111 years. To get on this bandwagon, say things like: "No consistency…", "The top order is so brittle…", "If only we had a guy like Hadlee…"

Keep an eye out for the eighties mafia: The decent New Zealand team of the 1980s are still floating around in many cricket circles, making their presence felt and talking about things back in their day (when medallions and moustaches were rife). There are some from the era who are less than keen for the current crop to eclipse their achievements in the heyday of one-day cricket.

Chris Cairns: The most controversial man in New Zealand cricket. There is a pro-Cairns camp and an anti-Cairns camp. You probably want to walk the tightrope and stay out of the raging arguments and just describe the match-fixing allegations fiasco as a sad episode and a blight on the game. Especially in Canterbury.

The guy in the crowd holding a kiwi: That is Sonny Shaw and he is both an obsessive cricket fan and a peculiar individual. He aims to position himself at each game to get on TV as much as possible, and he's got a back story with some skeletons. Approach with care.

The underarm: Never forgive, never forget. This is the reason so many New Zealand cricket fans still hate Australia. That and the procession of plonkers who followed in the Chappells' footsteps: Greg Matthews, Dean Jones, Greg Dyer, Brad Haddin…

The two types of spectator attire at New Zealand grounds © Getty Images

1992 World Cup legacy: It was the perfect tournament in so many ways, and cricket gripped New Zealand on the back of Martin Crowe's magnificent batting and captaincy, Mark Greatbatch's red-line tonking, and the strangulation techniques of Gavin Larsen and Dipak Patel with the ball. Swot up what happened in this tournament because New Zealand cricket fans will be discussing this ad nauseum.

Eric Tindill: To demonstrate your staggering sporting awareness, ensure you know the story of Snowy Tindill - the only man to have completed a truly extraordinary double double: playing cricket and rugby for New Zealand and also refereeing international rugby and umpiring a cricket Test. Legend.

Alternative commentary: There is no doyen commentator in New Zealand. On the TV, portly wicketkeeping legend Ian Smith is the main man, and on radio it is the long-toothed, short-legged and high-pantsed Bryan Waddle. In recent summers, the ACC's cult cricket commentary has emerged too, appealing to those who like a bit of innuendo and risqué discussion with their ball-by-ball.

Slang: what you'll hear and what to say

"Bring back Buck" A reference to former All Black captain and notorious hard man Wayne "Buck" Shelford who was dropped from the team despite never losing a match as captain. Signs with this phrase on it pop up at sporting events all over the world.

"BYC" That's backyard cricket, the great Kiwi summer pastime. Halls, lawns, beaches, parks, roads - anywhere really. In high-end BYC the tennis ball is taped on one side for swing.

"Cackhanded" Left-handed like Jesse Ryder or James Franklin.

"Chilly bin" Compulsory at all cricket matches except stadiums with over-exuberant rules. It's an esky or insulated plastic box for keeping food and drink chilled.

"Choice" This is not about decision-making - it's an expression that means very good. Example: "Corey Anderson's $98 haircut is choice."

"Chunder" To vomit. Example: "Jesse doesn't look well, reckon he might chunder?"

"Eh" Pronounced "ay". It is often used at the end of sentences to turn a statement into a question. Example: "It sucks that the beers here are $11, eh?" It is also used as a substitute for "pardon" or "what".

Be prepared for plenty of '80s nostalgia © Getty Images

"Hard case" A person who is funny. Example: "That Mattress McCullum, he's a hard case."

"Hissy fit"/"Wobbly"/"Pack a sad" Throw a tantrum. Example: "Look at Mitchell Johnson over there having a hissy fit."

"Jandal" Rubber sandals, default footwear for a day at a cricket ground with an embankment or heading to the beach.

"L&P" A unique New Zealand drink that combines lemon flavour with spring water from the North Island town of Paeroa.

"Loo" The toilet. The best one in NZ cricket is at the Basin Reserve, where you can keep an eye on the cricket from the urinal at the southern end.

"Pakeha" A Maori word referencing a Caucasian/European New Zealander. It's not offensive.

"Piece of piss" Easy. Example: "Beating South Africa in a World Cup knockout match is a piece of piss."

"Scarfie" A university student, probably from Otago Uni in Dunedin.

"Sweet as" This simply means something is good. Example: "Daniel Vettori's running style is sweet as."

"Zed" The way we say the 26th letter of the alphabet.

Paul Ford is a co-founder of the Beige Brigade. @beigebrigade

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  • Android on December 16, 2014, 9:29 GMT

    great article, hope nz wins the wc

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