The Tuesday Morning Quarterback returns to find Baz McCullum in swashbuckling form. On Twitter.
In a post-truth world, Twitter isn’t necessarily the medium that springs immediately to mind as a haven for the moral high ground.
But there are beacons of light.
Defenders of what’s right and good are out there, soldiering away at their mission of spreading positivity while reminding people to stop and ‘smell the roses’ and chill the heck out.
Enter Brendon ‘Baz’ McCullum, the pugnacious former Black Caps slogger and wildly inventive captain turned doughty defender of the glass half full.
When he’s not smashing twenties and thirties in the Big Bash league or jousting with KP and Punter in the commentary box, McCullum has been using Twitter to remind Kiwis not to be such misanthropic tosspots.
McCullum, of late, has been gently railing against the notion that the Black Caps’ incredible run of success is down to the fact their opponents are useless.
TVNZ journo Guy Heveldt was swotted down the ground for bemoaning the West Indies poor technique and application when they were bounced out by Neil Wagner in the first test in Wellington.
“It's not even moving around that much. It's just been incredibly poor technique and shot selection,” opined Heveldt.
“Or, it’s been highly effective tactics employed by a team who adapt quickly to the situation and conditions they are presented with. Grab yourself a beer and try enjoy it bro,” counselled McCullum.
An article suggesting the West Indies were the worst team from a collection of once great cricketing nations to tour here also riled McCullum.
“Or ... we could just enjoy our team playing good cricket and being successful. Touring is tough for most teams around the world. It’s OK to “Smell the Roses” right now,” McCullum tweeted in response.
Spoken like a man who no longer carries the burden of trying to please a national sporting public that celebrates successes by denigrating the vanquished and reacts to defeat by lamenting uselessness.
The Kiwi sporting glass is only ever half empty. McCullum, curiously, never seemed overly hyper-sensitive to this when he played. If anything, he seemed accepting of the fact that being a player who could bat for days and score triple centuries when he applied himself but more often than not got himself playing truly godawful, irresponsible shots would attract a degree of teeth gnashing fury.
Now free to roam the world’s T20 leagues and play whatever shots he likes whenever he likes, McCullum is also free to offer his opinion on what miserable sods we Kiwis routinely are when it comes to sports.
Curiously, when it comes to cricket, in particular, our collective attitude is the inverse of our nearest neighbours and Anzac brothers and sisters.
Australians have an unshakeable belief that their cricket team is the greatest on the planet. No deluge of alternative facts will ever shift that view. When Straya win it is because they are utterly brilliant. Losses are inexplicable, so no one bothers to attempt it. But they are only ever blips as Australia are clearly still superior and exponentially more brilliant than the team that has just fluked a victory over them.
Sunday’s thrashing at the hands of England at the MCG provided a wonderful insight into the Australian psyche. While we Kiwis would have felt compelled to offer some sort of critique of our opening bowlers as they were flayed for 12 runs per over, the Channel Nine commentary team instead honed-in on the key issue: that Jason Roy had flopped in the Big Bash.
Bill Lawry, the senior statesman drafted in to add some decorum to proceedings in the commentary box, personally gave Roy out three times. Sadly for Lawry, the first two times he screamed OUT, the ball sailed well over fielders’ heads and raced away on the lush MCG turf (the finest turf in the world, nonetheless). On the third occasion Lawry nailed it. The ball went to hand, but by then Roy had smashed 180 and the game was as good as over.
The 'astonishing' result won’t have shaken Australians belief in their brilliance. Their fast bowlers are still the most threatening in world, Steve Smith is only ever dismissed by act of God, David Warner is a saint and Mitchell Marsh is a taller, stronger, paler, more talented, right-handed version of Sir Garfield Sobers.
Meanwhile, back in New Zealand, the Black Caps are digging in, desperate to avoid humiliating themselves against the worst Pakistan team to tour anywhere, ever, while Baz McCullum’s fingers hover over the send button.