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Political Animal_1503

Crick­et and polit­ics have many things in com­mon — the highest form of each is both exhil­ar­at­ing to fans and excru­ci­at­ing to every­one else, and New Zea­l­and bats high­er than its aver­age on the world stage, espe­cially with Helen Clark clock­ing up out­rageous num­bers. In hon­our of such things, here’s the Government’s First XI.


Aggress­ive open­er: Hekia Para­ta

Goes in with one simple job: hit, and hit hard. Will some­times self-destruct, some­times abso­lutely des­troy, but has the audi­ence on their toes wait­ing to see what will hap­pen next.


Stable open­er: Paula Ben­nett

Frus­trat­ing to the point of exhaust­ing the oth­er team, Ben­nett can absorb attacks like few oth­ers in the world, and then go on the attack her­self if neces­sary. Quirky off-field cand­our keeps fans interested.


No. 3: Bill Eng­lish

Dour, meth­od­ic­al and the per­son whose work you build the innings around. Gets in and deliv­ers a by-the-books cen­tury. Only pur­ists really appre­ci­ate his mind-numb­ing attri­tion abilities.


No. 4: John Key (Cap­tain)

The best bats­man on the team, and the one who dic­tates the pace of the innings. He’s the wick­et the oppos­i­tion needs to take if they are to have any chance of win­ning. Record-set­ting scores come from Key. The captain’s pos­i­tion means he or she is often in charge of dam­age con­trol when one of the team makes a gaff and goes out early (e.g. former New Zea­l­and cap­tain H. Clark of Mt Albert and Auckland).


No. 5 / Closer: Gerry Brown­lee

Big and bom­bast­ic, cap­able of hold­ing the innings togeth­er, but also shows flashes of lun­acy. Needs to be present in a crisis situ­ation, even if he is not always effect­ive. Play­ers like this always seem to have their place on the team questioned.


All-round­er: Amy Adams

All-round­ers can bowl, bat and seem­ingly be every­where on the field, lock­ing down key pos­i­tions and mak­ing con­tri­bu­tions that put their team over the line. For some reas­on, all the fam­ous ones seem to come out of Canterbury.


Wick­et-keep­er: Chris Fin­layson

The safe pair of hands behind the stumps. Not too shabby at dir­ect­ing the tail either. Often a wise head in the team, able to see the whole pic­ture in a way the cap­tain can­not. Renowned for snarky com­ments that nev­er quite carry to the pitch microphones.


Leg-spin Bowl­er: Mag­gie Barry

A bold per­son­al­ity, either hold­ing down the oth­er team or attack­ing to take wick­ets. Will sur­round the oppos­i­tion with team-mates in a siege men­tal­ity. Often the team mem­ber whose online com­ments tend to get oppon­ents fired up.


Off-spin Bowl­er: Steven Joyce

Every team requires a true ‘spin mas­ter’, still func­tion­ing at a high level late in the day, and cap­able of chan­ging the game with their ‘pretty leg­al’ action. Takes on sev­er­al dif­fer­ent duties dur­ing the match, accord­ing to what the team needs.


Medi­um-pacer: Tim Groser

A human met­ro­nome: line and length. Keeps doing the same thing until the oppos­i­tion play­ers lash out, often giv­ing away their wick­et in the process.


Pace bowl­er: Simon Bridges

Young, attack­ing, and cap­able of wild spurts that leave every­one, includ­ing his team, going “WTF was that?”


It’s time to see wheth­er this XI are the world-beat­ers they have always threatened to be or have peaked too soon, destined to disappoint.