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The weekly New Zealand sport newsletter that prefers nervously pacing around at kids' cricket to a chair.

The greatest ride in sport

On Monday, the cricket lover in your house was probably hopping up and down on the couch like a toddler left in charge of the supermarket sugar section, because there was Test match cricket happening. 

To the fans, it was utterly gripping. To the rest of the household, it was as perplexing as herbal tea.

To be fair, some of its concepts are pretty mystifying. At the end, Pakistan were refusing to score runs even though they needed less than ten to win, as the decent batsman tried to protect the one picked last.

These days everyone gets one day and T20 cricket, roughly. The math is straightforward - Grant Elliot needed five runs to get us in the world cup final, he hit it for six, simple. Plus you only have to put up with it for a day , tops. 

But Tests... for fans, every win represents not just the time you've managed to spend watching over the last five days, but a commitment to the game that builds up over a lifetime.

Frustration, rain, boredom, defeat... they're all part of a Test cricket fan's burden. It's no co-incidence we usually refer to ourselves as tragics. 

Then suddenly, like a bus losing its brakes and coming right at you, a match gets close and you're plunged into agony and hope, your heart beats in a genuinely alarming way and concerns like work, family and your reputation as a sane, functional member of society fade away.    
When your team wins a close one, fans often declare their love for the game, as well as the team. Cricket Twitter was full of 'How great is Test cricket?' and 'How can you not love it?' on Monday night. You don't often get All Blacks fans declaring 'I love rugby!' at their moments of triumph. 

There's no doubt five day cricket is an anachronism, and fans  genuinely worry it could all come crashing down one day, when the economics of putting on such a resource-hungry game for a small section of fans doesn't work any more. 

We need to find a common language, so we can share the intense highs and lows of the format without presenting as a slacker lunatic fringe. A great Test is often compared to reading a novel, that feeling of either triumph or anguish and something you don't want to finish coming to an end. 

White clothing, long shadows and unparalleled drama are a heady combination, team. Without wishing a lifetime of angst and lost productively on you and yours, I highly recommend giving Test cricket a go.  

Thanks for reading 

- Richard
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The week's best NZ sport writing

Great backgrounder on Ajaz Patel, the wrist spinner who debuted at 30 and won a Test for New Zealand at the first time of asking [RNZ]

Sportsfreak on the nerviest Monday night since back when you had to do exams [] 

Bonus - Jarrod Gilbert watches us win it. He spoke for the nation when he said 'That's fucken it!' [Twitter] 

Very inside-baseball analysis of the All Blacks' loss to Ireland. In short, we're not that familiar with our own game plan, going into the biggest game of the season [Rugby Pass] 

Suzanne McFadden gets the tour and inside story on Team New Zealand's base for hanging on to that Cup [Newsroom] 

Video nasty

Mainly including this as I'm hoping Schorcio is heading our way soon. 

Long read

How Facebook brazened it out and hit back at lawmakers wanting them to take our data security - and elections and that - seriously [New York Times] 

Bonus link - the very wise Paul Kimmage on sponsorship in sport. Features Justin Marshall being put on the spot [Irish Independent] 

Selected weekend fixtures

  • The BLACKCAPS will try and wrap up a significant away series win against Pakistan in Dubai starting at 7.00pm Saturday night, it's on SKY
  • The All Blacks are trying to get things back on track against Rome, in the eternal city at 3.00am Sunday morning, it's on SKY
  • Auckland Tuatara, our new professional baseball team, play four games against Brisbane this weekend 

Bring back the gif 

When you think of the bad / wrong joke, but are powerless to stop yourself saying it. 
Sport Review newsletter is the best of New Zealand sport writing and content, in your mailbox every Friday at 8am, just in time for the weekend. 

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