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March 6, 2016 | by  | in Sports |
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“Sports!”

The institution integral to our national identity—sports! So integral, wife-beaters are found not guilty if they can prove their unwavering affection towards sport (re: Tony Veitch). And parents will forever stand in winter gales—weet-bix ad-esque—to watch Johnny get smashed by a “7th former.”

“Sports!” provides some insight into the less elite sporting arenas, from badly kept greens, to much worse sports bars and TABs.

This week’s descent is from the match fixing heights of international cricket, to the lowly ranks of Wellington’s social cricket. More specifically, to the Doh-Bro swilling, watermelon flavour vaping, Eastern Suburbs Cricket Club, Sharks. “Sharkies” plying their trade in the very social men’s—and, depending on number, women’s—t20 competition.

Saturdays are the team’s Sabbath (the allusion falling down as a day of rest, but picking itself back up as cricket-cum-religion); and I was lucky enough to spend one with them. The beers from the night before were shaken off and the trek made to Whitby (or Wilton, or Grenada North; generally anywhere other than their home ground, they tell me).

The game, much to my surprise, was a kind of sordid affair, with the umpires increasingly appealed to—and outright questioned—as the batting team lost more wickets. Then, in an instant, a bouncer had demonstrably broken an opponent’s nose. I was hastily told “the bounce is hard to predict on these artificial pitches… and he probably should have been wearing a helmet, anyway. Right?” I wholeheartedly agreed.

Luckily for morale, the Sharks won. Though now, in the designated after-match flat, around a few beers, the result seemed to have lost all importance. That catch, or that six, or that bouncer was everything needed for a night’s conversation.
I asked the perpetrator—colloquially named “Zahzoo”—later that night how he felt about the poor guy’s nose: “Oh yeah, you know, these things happen. I feel pretty bad for it, y’know.” By the look on his face, he wasn’t lying—aside from the glee behind his eyes.

“Sports!” track of the week: The Naenae Express, “Rain Delay/Save the Bees”

 

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Newtown, between 1908-10. Photograph taken by Sydney Charles Smith. 1888-1972: Photographs of New Zealand. Courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library. 1/1-019663-G

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