Potterheads are surely missing the uncrowned Harry Potter of the cricketing world – Daniel Vettori — this World Cup. Dubbed the boy wizard after his floppy haired, bespectacled face and young debut, Vettori was much adored, though Potter-world awaits the next Harry’s anointing. Mitch Santner won’t do – just like Ganguly never fit the bill.
The World Cup did give English pacer Mark Wood a chance to visit London’s Harry Potter World, before their Bangladesh game – and throw in his hat. While crisscrossing the country and with a longish break between Nottingham and Cardiff, Wood had opted to stay on in London rather than head home to Ashington in Northumberland. So he decided to check out if his 150kph went faster than the broomstick at the themed fantasy centre.
“I pulled on the Gryffindor robes and had a go on the broomstick. I must have fitted right in, because I didn’t hear anyone say ‘that looks like Mark Wood flying that broomstick’,” he told BBC, adding, “I’m a pretty big fan — Half-Blood Prince is my favourite film, possibly because I quite like the dark side of Severus Snape. He might be my favourite character, alongside Jonny Bairstow/Ron Weasley.”
English cricket keeps mingling with Pottersphere, with Matt Lewis, better known as (b.k.a) Neville Longbottom making a rather tepid appearance on Test Match Special mid-Cup. Both Dan Radcliffe and Tom Felton b.k.a. Draco Malfoy had better outings earlier given they can play the sport decently. Radcliffe who fell for the sport when he found himself out-yelled by the boorish Aussie crowd as England lost the 2006-7 Ashes 5-0, had told Jonathan Agnew he was stirred into patriotism after the constant Australian gloating and let out a cry when Paul Collingwood scored a double and let out a guttural cry of his own.
He’d stood in queue for autographs of Andrew Strauss and Sachin Tendulkar thereafter. Like the books that get darker 1 through 7, cricket found a dark mention in Daniel’s nightmares too. “Andrew Strauss was chasing me with a cricket bat. It was during the West Indies series when Andrew wasn’t doing too well and an Australian who was listening in piped up and said ‘I wouldn’t worry about Strauss, if he had a swing at you at the moment he’d probably miss!'” he’d recall.
Given this background and as Jonny Bairstow lends himself well to any of the Weasleys, the England – NZ game would be the best place to go scouting for new Potterpeople.
Eng-NZ’s Potter XXII: Mitch ‘Hermione’ Santner; Jos ‘Harry’ Butler; Mark ‘Sirius’ Wood; Eoin ‘Fred-George’ Morgan; Jonny ‘Ron’ Bairstow; Joe ‘Luna Lovegood’ Root; Ben ‘Mad Eye Moody’ Stokes; Remus ‘Moeen Ali’ Lupin; Joffra ‘Tonks’ Archer; Kane ‘Albus Wulfric Percival Brian Dumbledore’ Williamson; Colin ‘Creevey’ de Grandhomme; Martin ‘Snape’ Guptill; Chris ‘Hagrid’ Woakes; Jimmy ‘Tom Riddle’ Neesham; Tom ‘Cho Chang’ Latham; Ross ‘Aberforth’ Taylor; Tim ‘McGonagall’ Southee; Lachlan ‘Gilderoy Lockhart’ Ferguson; Adil ‘Ginny’ Rashid; Liam ‘Dobby’ Plunkett; Matt ‘Moaning Myrtle’ Henry; Jason ‘Molly Weasley’ Roy.
Jason Roy’s 160-run opening partnership with Jonny Bairstow was crucial to set up a solid total for England against India on Sunday. Roy, returning from a hamstring injury, did not appear rusty and seemed to enjoy the company of his partner Bairstow. But on field company, unlike life, doesn’t probably require you to like your partner. That’s what Roy believes. In BBC’s Test Match Special podcast , Roy shared his thoughts on the art of batting. “You don’t have to like each other, though it does help, but you have to work well together.” Even if you don’t like your partner, indifference towards their likes and dislikes can’t be afforded, according to him. You also have to know your partner well, know their likes and dislikes. “Then when you’re in the middle you feed off each other, give feedback and make sure you looking after each other (does sound like relationship advice) ,” the batsman explained. Roy also gave fascinating insights into his pre-match rituals and how he and Bairstow avoid padding up for a game in front of each other primarily because his partner prefers to “take himself away a little bit more”. ” We then chat just before we go over the rope and go to work.”.
Blundell over blundering Tom
Former New Zealand captain Jeremy Coney was scathing in his assessment of wicket-keeper Tom Latham’s performances with the bat in the ongoing World Cup. During a chat with Phil Tufnell and Michael Vaughan in BBC’s podcast: “TMS at the World Cup,” Coney said Latham did not inspire confidence at the crucial No.5 position. “0,13, 1,12, 1 and 14…for God’s sake give us a 20.He is not that great at No.5,” he explained. With the semifinal qualification on the line, Coney reckoned that the time was right to blood in young wicket-keeper batsman Tom Blundell in the mix. “Blundell should be replacing Latham on current form. I mean the young kid has scored a 70 against the Aussies and a century against West Indies in the two warm-up matches. Add his wicket-keeping skills and you’ve got a very decent proposition,” he added. Blundell was the surprise pick in New Zealand’s 15-man squad for the World Cup, despite never having played in ODIs at international level. The 28-year-old has featured in two Tests and three Twenty20 internationals for New Zealand.
Baz bats for New Zealand
During his playing days, Brendon McCullum was never afraid to stand up for his country, even against the big brothers from Australia and England, and to garner respect for his small island nation. McCullum hasn’t changed much since hanging up his Black Cap. And when Mark Waugh and Michael Vaughan all but ignored New Zealand’s credentials as the tournament entered its decisive phase, the former wicketkeeper-batsmen politely intervened in their Twitter conversation to remind them that the Kiwis were very much in the reckoning.
Vaughan was in an upbeat mood after watching England end India’s unbeaten run, and predicted on Twitter: “It looks like the Semis could be … Australia v NZ @ OT & England v India @ Edgbaston !!!!!” to which the younger Waugh took a mild dig. “Geeze you change your mind every day of the week. 3 clear standout teams in Eng, India and Aust. The best thing is for the purists/spectators is they can all beat each other on any given day.”
McCullum couldn’t help but intervene. “I think NZ also. But it’s imperative they rediscover a bit of swagger, include Southee for his leadership & also be prepared to take risks and force the game. Take on the short ball & be more proactive against spin. If they get on top, then roll the dice with big guns & ATTACK!”
The Black Caps can seal a semi-final spot with a win over the hosts in Durham, though it would take an unlikely turn of events for them to miss out even if they lose, as their net run rate is superior to Pakistan.