The Clubrooms: Dylan Cleaver – The hidden truth of Black Caps’ forgotten man

OPINION:


Winners

Black Caps’ forgotten man

While eyes, including these, boggled at the scale of the riches handed out to burgeoning superstar Kyle Jamieson, another New Zealand quick bowler’s fate went comparatively unnoticed. It shouldn’t have.

Adam Milne has picked up a contract for more than $600,000 off the Mumbai Indians and will aim to form a three-pronged pace attack with Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah. It is an impressive return for a guy who has not represented his country for more than two years.

When fit, Milne is slippery quick – the problem being that he is built like a greyhound and tends to break down playing a high volume of cricket. In that respect, Milne has forged a very modern, very lucrative career, picking up good contracts in franchise cricket in England, Australia and India without needing international cricket to provide him with a billboard to advertise his skills.

The wider meaning of that is probably worth chewing over at some point.

New Zealand

Sometimes it takes an outsider to spell out how different life is here than is being experienced elsewhere. Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said New Zealanders should be proud of the fact there would be a crowd in attendance to watch Joseph Parker take on Junior Fa in one of the highest-profile fights in the world this year.

“New Zealand has become one of the most famous countries in the world,” he said. “I know people who never knew where New Zealand was now talking about wanting to go there.”

“We’re struggling here; not allowed one person in to watch,” added the charismatic Brit. “You’ve got a great fight in front of a crowd that’s going to be watched in 180 countries. You should be very proud.”

Luna Rossa

And not just for their comprehensive victory over Team UK on the water. While that might not have been a classic down-trou, it certainly left the Brits’ intergluteal clefts exposed.

However, for those of us who briefly enjoyed the novelty of foiling monohulls but have been subsequently unmoved by the actual “racing”, there was something to admire in the way Luna Rossa, the Challenger of Record, called BS on America’s Cup Event Ltd’s attempts to shift the goalposts (mark roundings?) on the schedule.

The event was organised during a pandemic. It defies all logic that there were not hard-and-fast, unambiguous rules in place for all potential alert levels at any given time during the regatta. It has only entrenched the idea that the hosts are fantastic at putting together high-performance sailing teams, rather less so at organising events.

Losers

Men’s tennis

The Australian open men’s draw really was an ugly tournament, with the bitterness and angst persisting right through to Novak Djokovic’s prizegiving, with boos raining down even when Tennis Australia president Jayne Hrdlicka offered this seemingly benign observation:

“With [Covid-19] vaccinations on the way, rolling out in many countries around the world, it’s now a time for optimism and hope for the future.”

The booing was a weird response to an entirely predictable tournament. Djokovic won his ninth title, his 18th grand slam. Roger Federer might be in the late-winter of his career, but the Big Three’s other two, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, are still far more consistent and creative than their challengers.

There are some brilliant young players on the circuit but none who have grasped the notion that winning grand slams is about putting seven good matches together, not a couple of crackers followed by a shocker.

Crusaders

Lost to the Blues in one of those three-halves-of-nonsense pre-season hit outs. Under normal circumstances this would have no place in this column but as the Crusaders are unlikely to feature in it once the season proper starts, why waste the opportunity.

I have watched a lot of cricket this year and it is obvious Ross Taylor is not the player he used to be. Is it time for him to retire? Alan Henderson, Auckland.

Thanks Alan and I don’t want to sound dismissive but I learned a while back that nobody, least of all me, has the right to tell another person when they should give up doing what they love.

(This does not necessarily apply to boxers or collision sport athletes who are clearly unwell, but that is a different matter.)

That was brought home to me when journalists started to write off Roger Federer when he went on a prolonged dry spell after winning Wimbledon in 2012. The man himself then gave the best explanation for why he was still playing.

“I love tennis,” was the long and short of his reply.

While many sat back and saw Federer’s involvement in the sport as a means only to winning big tournaments, deep down he was still the kid who loved putting his sneakers on, hitting balls over a net and competing. Obviously he’d prefer to win every match, but competing and losing was preferable to sitting at home watching.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that it is up to the New Zealand selectors to drop Taylor if they no longer think he’s up to batting in the top order in international cricket. It’s not up to him to step aside just because journalists or punters think he’s no longer good enough.

I suspect there are still some landmarks Taylor wants to cross before he calls it quits and you could argue that his displeasure at being dropped from the T20 side indicates the hunger is still there.

But… your point holds in that Taylor is clearly out of form. His impact during the test summer was muted by his standards and his form for Central Districts has been hideous.

You can be certain that he’s nearer the end than the start but here’s another important point: he has 40 international centuries and averages more than 45 in both tests and ODIs.

He has done the business for a long, long time. Be wary about writing off champions.

It’s all in the details. The

and it’s all their own fault. The opening anecdote alone is enough to make you go hmmm. From

NYT Magazine

.

For some of us, it feels like an age since the best cricket team in New Zealand’s history has taken the field. They do so twice this week in their weakest format, T20, against the old enemy Australia. Tonight at 7pm, on Spark Sport and TVNZ, and Thursday from 2pm on Spark Sport.

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