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.