It’s a long weekend coming up, the weather is predictably likely to be a bit rubbish, so it’s a good time to plonk yourself on the couch and enjoy a weekend of sport. Here’s your guide to the pick of the weekend; in chronological order
Aces v Daredevils
The T20 Champions League has never got much attention in NZ in the past; mainly because our teams had never won a game and kept getting knocked out at the qualification stage.
But this year’s different. The Auckland Aces won both qualification matches and then upset Brendon McCullum’s Knight Riders in their opening match of the tournament proper. And there is the other feature of this tournament to date; the much vaunted IPL sides, with their preferable draw and lenient overseas player rules, have been pretty rubbish.
But it’s another one of these sides that the Aces face on Staurday morning. The Delhi Daredevils; complete with KP, his ego, a full length mirror, Sehwag, Warner, Jayawardene. And Ross Taylor.
It would be churlish to note that Auckland’s stand out performer has been a Pakistani import. That’s what T20 cricket is all about; but there’s also Guptill and Vincent with the bat, and wily old hands Mills and Adams with the ball, as well as Michael Bates. People get upset when you don’t mention Michael Bates.
Wellington v Auckland
Yes, that’s right the ITM Cup is still going along. And it’s even at the exciting bit now.
Saturday night sees the hosts playing a knockout game at home for the first time since 2009; battling against Auckland in an amateur way scrapping out for the right to go to Addington next week to suffer ITM Final humiliation.
It’s also the last match for South Africa’s favourite Bryce Lawrence. He won’t go quietly.
Wallabies v All Blacks
Whatever happened to the DHL Cup? As far as meaningless trophies go that was right up there.
This is the beginning of the AIG All Stars era. It’s another Bledisloe test this weekend with the build-up dominated by the passing of Steve Hansen’s father and a 100th test cap for the guy with the coolest ears going around; Kevin Mealamu. You would expect the All Blacks to win, but they do tend to struggle in the more meaningless encounters; don’t forget that the DHL Cup sits in a cabinet in Sydney
And note to New Zealand media. Regardless of what happens, can we please not focus on Robbie Deans’s future? That obsession has gone past being boring to being embarrassingly cringe-worthy.
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea
Andre Vilas-Boas welcomes his old club to White Hart Lane. And he will be trying to ignore the fact that Chelsea have done rather well since he left earlier this year. An FA Cup, Champions League title and now comfortably top of the Premiership.
Chelsea has tended to dominate this fixture in recent years, but Spurs won at Old Trafford a few weeks ago and will be wanting to show they can indeed mix it with the big boys. Chelsea, meanwhile, are in the middle of confidential action against John Terry, after a week dominated by hand-wringing of what to do with racism in the sport.
The TAB has Spurs as slight favourites.
Phoenix v Roar
This season has produced an unexpectedly good start for the Phoenix.
First up a comfortable win at home again the side featuring the Best Thing To Ever Happen to the ALeagueTM. And then draw on the road in Melbourne with a team of kids and a fourth choice goalkeeper. The new academy seems to be working well, and the Belgian whose name no one can remember looks like being a good signing,
But on Sunday it’s the real test; up against the best side in the league by a mile. Roll on the home town advantage, and the forecast storm.
Oh, and there’s NFL on too