All eyes on hosts’ epic Cup clash?
IT ALWAYS amazes me that some of the most diehard cricket players aren't the most passionate cricket watchers.
The vast majority of players I know would more than hold their own around the office watercooler during summer talking about matches here, there and everywhere. They love the game, and will happily consume it live, recorded, on TV or livestream, or even just with just online scoring running.
But there are also a few who can be surprisingly indifferent.
I won't name names - some of them are former teammates - and I should point out that they do watch the game, but more as an information-gathering device, as opposed to enjoyment.
Given the choice, they would rather be playing than watching.
So when a massive game like tomorrow's World Cup blockbuster between Australia and New Zealand rolls around, the only reason I can imagine that you wouldn't be watching the clash between the trans-Tasman rivals was if you were playing at the time.
It just so happens the Bulls and Premier Grade players will be doing that, but I can bet most will know the state of play as it unfolds at Eden Park.
Despite the Kiwis having the recent form on the board, I reckon that Australian players will dominate again, drawing upon their lengthy time as the top dogs in ODI cricket to hold a psychological advantage.
But there's a lot to like about the Black Caps. I enjoyed the privilege of playing alongside Dan Vettori during the BBL for the Brisbane Heat and Brendon McCullum is a bit of a favourite of mine. I wasn't with the Heat when he played for them in BBL|01, but the tales of his toughness - having his nose broken by Brett Lee and returning to bat at the SCG - and love for a scrap still get an airing in the rooms.
Funnily enough, he hasn't really taken down Australia despite his enormous run of form. I think our attack, with the variety of the two left-armers, and the overall pace and bounce should handle him this time around.
Away in Alice Springs, the Queensland Bulls are locked in a decent Sheffield Shield tussle with Victoria on a pretty unforgiving wicket.
Joe Burns didn't get a ton for Queensland, but his innings, by all accounts, was a stand-out and will be another step towards him eventually landing an Ashes berth later this year.
I am a big admirer of Burnsie. He has always been exceptional against the fast bowling, and now he has developed a game against spin which would make him a perfect replacement batsmen for England.
Joey knows he has to be consistently churning out runs in whatever conditions he bats in, and with two Shield games remaining after this one, both in Brisbane, he can play a big role in helping Queensland come down the outside to snare a Shield final berth.