It is here. The most eagerly awaited ODI of all timeTM . The red hot New Zealand team is set to take on the Evil Empire in from of the biggest crowd to ever rock up to an ODI in New Zealand. Or something like that.
Why the hype?
This is a very good New Zealand ODI team. However, it can only be called a great ODI side once it has beaten the best, and Australia are favourites for this World Cup. These two sides have been dominant at home all summer, and appear to be improving with each outing. Tomorrow they come up against stiffer opposition though.
There will be Prime Ministers in attendance, albeit for the first 15 minutes only. In fact it may be Tony Abbott’s final act as PM.
The Warner factor. Davey Dumb Dumb has once again been promoted as Comedy Villain #1 during the week. When he was put up in front of the media saying he expected abuse it was clear that this was a team tactic.
He said that New Zealand threw things at you, which is probably a reference to when Greg Matthews has a toilet seat thrown at him in 1986. Now Davey Dumb Dumb is not a scholar of the game; it would appear his sledging has a research team behind it.
The Vettori claim of never being sledged in 18 years of Trans-Tasman internationals is a bit of Passive Aggressive in return.
It invokes memories of the opening match of the 1992 tournament; Crowe’s century, Boon’s run out, Larsen imposing some obscure and bewildering spell over the Australian batsmen.
The two sides are remarkably unfamiliar with each other. They have not completed an ODI against each other since the last World Cup. Most of this Australian side has not played an international match in New Zealand.
The return of Michael Clarke from a lengthy layoff. The last person who did that against New Zealand was a rusty Malinga a fortnight ago.
And Australia has been here for getting on for a week. Australian teams, across all codes, just don’t do that.
Who is hyped for the BlackCaps taking on Australia?!?!? Not Cruz. pic.twitter.com/Abha32sSbq
— Veitch Commenters (@VOSCommenters) February 22, 2015
This match is, after all, just a pool match. Both teams are all but guaranteed of the top two slots in the pool, and home semi-finals should they get that far. For New Zealand there are more important matches coming up next month in Wellington, probably Auckland, and possibly even Melbourne.
As any South African will tell you, topping your pool does not guarantee progression once the knock-out phase begins.