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Posts Tagged ‘#backtheblackcaps’

There’s a strange feeling for sports fans in Wellington these days. We turn to the back of the newspaper, and don’t ignore the sports pages. There’s no cringing any more, despite the fact that at the moment both the New Zealand Cricket Team, our regional rugby team, and our soccer/football team are all playing in major competitions. Against Australia. It’s always good not to have to cringe when we’re playing Australia.

The Wellington Phoenix football team is the only New Zealand team in the Australian professional league. They’ve had mixed results over the years, along with financial and other troubles, and have only once or maybe twice been contenders for the title. (Unlike NZ’s basketball team in the Australian professional league, which has won four of the last five years). Right now though, they are leading the table. It’s a good feeling.

The Wellington Hurricanes (yes, Wellington is the windy city) is my rugby team. It too has had very mixed results over the years in the Australia-New Zealand-South African regional competition. For several years, the slogan “Expect the Unexepcted” summed up what it was like to be a Hurricanes supporter. We were prepared for amazing performances or complete disasters. There was no consistency. So although 10-15 years ago I would occasionally go to a game, in more recent years I’ve lost interest (especially when some favourite players left the franchise), and it has been several years since I even watched a game on TV. But this year, with the return of a favourite player and a new coach, the Hurricanes are unbeaten after six games. We’re starting to hope. It’s a good feeling.

And then there’s cricket. I remember, back in the 1980s on a summer afternoon, we might settle in on the couch, make a day of it, and watch a cricket One Day International match. New Zealand seemed to hold its own in world cricket. Since then though, I’ve rarely taken much notice of the team, as it struggled internationally, and consistently put up pathetic performances. Despite the big bucks available to some if the players (thanks to the Indian professional league) and the media’s insistence on treating it like New Zealand’s second national sport (even when the numbers didn’t add up), it really seemed like a dying and insignificant sport in this country.

Until now. The Cricket World Cup, after the last two months throughout Australia and New Zealand, is coming to a conclusion. And wonder upon wonders, the New Zealand team (known as the Black Caps) is for the first time ever in the final. We demolished England and beat Australia in the pool round, got through the quarters against the West Indies, and with our hearts in our mouths, beat South Africa on the second last ball in the semifinals. Unbeaten in 14 matches. Now, tomorrow, we play Australia in the final. We’re not favourites, as they will be playing on their home turf. But we’re in for a chance. Win or lose, the cricket team has thrilled the country so far. And take it from me, the thrill is so much greater when it’s unexpected. I’m not really looking forward to the game tomorrow – the tension will be high. Which is why I’m posting this now, rather than Monday, when I’ll either be a bad loser, or a gloating winner. But right now? It’s a good feeling.

Update:    Yes, we lost. Australia, who we’d already beaten early in the competition, thrashed us. Still, we got 2nd, and that’s not bad when we came into the competition seeded 9th. That’s a good feeling. Though admittedly, not as good as winning would have been!

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