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New Zealand v England

Hoarding Tunnock’s & The Nick Knight King: an alternative view of the first Test

James Wallace by James Wallace
@Jimbo_Cricket 6 minute read

James Wallace rounds up the moments you might’ve missed from New Zealand’s first Test win over England at the Bay Oval. Five sleepless nights on the sofa-bed. All for this. You’re welcome.

Dark Satanic Trills

The start of the first Test at Mount Maunganui saw, and heard, the Barmy Army giving the old William Blake feat Sir Hubert Parry collab some oomph from the pleasant pastures of the Bay Oval grass verges. A smaller capacity venue often means the dulcet tones of the supporting fans ring out more clearly, like a guff in a cowshed. TV footage zoomed in on one particular unholy trinity really belting it out with some gusto…and added actions. It’s exactly what Blake would have wanted.

Less The Three Tenors and more Il Drunko. There was something mesmerising about these three. What was their back story? Their hopes, dreams and ambitions? What makes them… I’m kidding of course, DON’T write in. Footage of the warbling Boggis, Bunce and Bean did cap off what was quite a surreal start to a Test match. That sentence was, in case you missed it, a Segway segue.

Bow-ler on-a-Segway

Jofra Archer was seen whizzing round the outfield about 20 minutes before play on Sky NZ’s Segway. Zooming and grinning with the glee of a small child who has just cast off their stabilisers. Joe Root didn’t look quite so taken with the stunt though as he wandered past on the way back from the toss. We’ve all been there. The joke gone wrong, is there a worse feeling?

Kookaburra falling

To add to the strange atmosphere at the start of the game came the delivery of the match ball, from the atmosphere, parachuted onto the wicket by an Action-Man type. Lingering shots of an elderly Charlie Chaplin mime artist and blokes in full black morph suits writing messages on a not-especially small whiteboard gave the entire run up to the actual game a whiff of twisted carnival. Two policeman were later caught on camera in a discussion with the be’morph’d men, immediately sparking thoughts of Edward Woodward in The Wicker Man. The mind plays tricks in the wee small hours.

The (not-so) Young Ones

Speaking of lathering it on a bit thick, Ian Ward and David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd continue to do their double-act thing. They’re more Hale and Pace than Stan and Ollie but are undoubtedly heading to a municipal theatre near you some time in the 2020s. Ward filmed Lloyd giving a glimpse into touring life as part of the Sky commentary team which included some rudimentary toilet material and a lingering and unwelcome shot of his current flatmate and chief cricket correspondent of The Times’ lingerie laundry pile. The words steaming pile…did come to mind.

Over on TMS the vibe was thankfully less cacky and more cake-y but there was room for some blokey banter as newbie Steven Finn revealed on air that Colin de Grandhomme and Dom Sibley used to live with each other, noting that their food bill would have been “through the roof”. The run rate was so plodding on days three and four that any crumbs falling from Finn’s comedy table were gladly received during the graveyard shift. 

Free Mitchell Santner   

In the battle of the bespectacled slow left-arm-tweakers it was the Kiwi Santner who undoubtedly won the duel with Jack ‘The Nut’ Leach. Santner notched up his debut Test ton in a mammoth partnership with Watling before claiming career-best figures and pulling off a stonker of a catch to dismiss Ollie Pope. But his post-match interviews were as enervating as his play was exhilarating; speaking in the manner of a polite young man giving directions in the street Santner showed why he has earned the nickname ‘Flatline’.

There was something about Mitch that was over-stated though; displayed when he removed his helmet to celebrate his ton. He may have affected the game in the manner of fellow spinner Rashid Khan but his oversize eyewear complete with safety cord gave him more than a passing resemblance to Coronation Street’s Deirdre Rachid, ‘The Weatherfield One’. Surely has to be his moniker when his current one dies a death?

nick knight

Mitchell Santner celebrates scoring his maiden Test century

The Nick Knight King

The broadcast team have gone for some chilling new graphics to accompany their main coverage of the tour, opting for a sort of Game of Thrones’ ‘white walkers’ mixed with Damien Hirst-does-Spiderman aesthetic to accompany the viewers (all two of us) on the long dark nights of the soul on the sofa-bed.

Even frostier than this though was the atmosphere in the studio at times. With no Bob Willis on The Debate it was over to Rob Key to provide a few glacial moments with host Nick Knight, particularly as the Test rumbled into its latter stages. Key was forced to contend not only with Knight’s Madeley-lite hosting style but also his own bleary-eyed and crumpled appearance becoming increasingly contrasting whilst, session by nocturnal session, with that of young Michael Keaton-ultimate-Kiwi-crumpet, James Franklin. By the end of the fifth evening it looked like a ten-day old peach sat next to a gleaming boule.

Charles Colvile and Alec Stewart’s spicy repartee over on The Debate also contributed a rather curious frisson. Stewie’s contempt for the host’s lack of playing nous threatened at any minute to boil over into him slurring “You knuuur nothin’ Charles Colvile”, leading to them actually grappling on the studio floor with Jonathan Trott looking on, bored.

Hoarding Tunnock’s

Finally, a nice bit of snack-based nostalgia as Scottish wafer-merchants Tunnock’s could be seen advertising their wares at the Bay Oval. Never mind all the negative press of KP Snacks sponsoring The Hundred, it is actually humanly impossible to dislike a Tunnock’s product. With fans ranging from Hollywood actress Andie McDowell to Chris Martin – the lead singer of Coldplay not the medium-pacer cum famous rabbit – who is on the record as stating  “You can’t choose between the caramel wafer and the teacake. They’re like Lennon and McCartney – you can’t separate them.” With England’s performance in this Test being about as robust as a snowball in a sauna, the retro biscuit wasn’t the only thing on show that seemed to belong to a previous era.

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