ICC World Cup – New Zealand v Australia: Woodface

…It’s easy when you don’t try

Going on first impressions

Man in a cage has made his confession…”

It’s only natural, Crowded House, Woodface


For their 1991 album, Crowded House members Neil Finn, Paul Hester and Nick Seymour invited Tim Finn into the fold. Together they created Woodface; included in the SBS documentary series of Great Australian Albums.

Australian? It’s possible that they have a different perspective across the Tasman.


Yesterday I (fortunately) saw a fair bit of the World Cup Group A match from Auckland.

NZ were getting spanked. TG Southee was spraying it around. Trying for swing but executing erratically. And yet he kept having a go. BB McCullum strikes me as a leader that has a go. And encourages those in his team to do the same. What a gift.

With the scoreboard rattling along after six overs, BB McCullum went for DL Vettori. That’s gutsy. DL Vettori bowled superbly. The shift was on. Runs stopped. Men in a cage. Panicky shot selection crept in. The yellows lost 7/26 or something before a last wicket stand enabled a total of 151. MJ Clarke, captain of the one day team for the first time in ages, later decried the shot selection.


But that’s the Woodface phenomenon.

An Australian claiming something NZ as theirs; as within their control.

It’s nice for internal public relations.

It’s nice for amateur psychologists.

But it’s rubbish.

The other side of Woodface, the NZ side, is worth a look.


Australia was out-thought, out-played and out-lasted. Field placements to the Australian batsmen were superb. Fleming-esque. A man just off the cut surface, sillyish mid-off, at 7/100 to distract yer batsman. Out. These thoughtful things time and again.


Batting, BB McCullum again walked the walk. Until MJ Clarke summonsed MG Johnson, dropped two men back behind square and called for a helmet for short leg. Was this Jardine and Larwood? The crowd (rightly) booing. And then WHACK BB McCullum wore one on the elbow.

It was awful. It was the tactic of a schoolyard bully. No nuance or subtlety. There were two sides out there and only one of them was playing 50 over cricket.


Of course Australia nearly won it through MA Starc.

Could Australia have won it had MA Starc not been taken off with two overs left in his allocation? MJ Clarke was rusty with the bat, rusty with the captaincy. What would GJ Bailey, a man who’s captained a heck of a lot of winning sides, have done?

New Zealand’s subtlety as Crowded House to Australia’s tactics as AC/DC.


And so, this match as the songlist of Woodface:


Chocolate cake – Australia win the toss and bat. 1/50 in 33 balls. Hooley dooley. Can I have another piece of chocolate cake?

It’s only natural – Free-thinking radical BB McCullum, playing with belief and conviction, lobs the nut to left arm spinner DL Vettori to bowl the 7th over. It’s 1/51. DL Vettori starts with five dot balls. He changes the game. You feel lucky when you know who you are…

Fall at your feet – SR Watson hits one down the throat of deep mid-wicket on 23. DL Vettori bowling in tandem first with TA Boult and then with TA Southee, had the brakes on. 12.6 overs. The finger of blame has turned upon itself…

Tall trees – In the next nine overs NZ takes the wickets of DA Warner (3/80, 13.1 overs), SPD Smith (4/94, 16.3 overs), GJ Maxwell (5/96, 17.2 overs), MR Marsh (6/97, 17.4 overs), MJ Clarke (7/104, 19.6 overs), MG Johnson (8/106, 21.3 overs), MA Starc (9/106, 21.6 overs) Tall tree stand in the distance, remember when you were green

Weather with you – TA Boult has 8-2-25-5. DL Vettori has 8-0-25-2. And BB McCullum seeks to bowl these two out. Make it tough for Australia. But BJ Haddin who arrived at 6/97 now takes up the challenge with PJ Cummins. They take the total up to 151. Do I lie like a loungeroom lizard, or do I sing like a bird released?

Whispers and moans – And now BB McCullum arrives at the batting crease with great expectation. With him MJ Guptill and memories of the England game whitewash. Could this be all over in 10 overs? BB McCullum 22* from 6 balls. We are mirrors of each other in a lifetime of superstition…

Four seasons in one day – BB McCullum gets the Bodyline treatment from MJ Clarke-MG Johnson. Leg gully, two back, a bat pad with helmet. And is struck on the elbow. Awful. Even when you’re feeling warm, the temperature could drop away…

There goes God – BB McCullum slices the next ball, after medical treatment, for four. After 7 overs NZ 1/72, BB McCullum 50* from 22 balls. Hey don’t look now, there goes God…

Fame is – In his first over, change bowler PJ Cummins gets BB McCullum (2/79, 7.4 overs). MA Starc takes over from MG Johnson’s end now. First ball LRPL Taylor bowled (3/79, 8.1 overs). Second ball GD Elliott bowled (4/79, 8.2 overs). CJ Anderson defends the hat-trick ball. Wave the magic wand and hang on…

All I ask – After a period of tightening cricket with PJ Cummins and MA Starc to KS Williamson and CJ Anderson, MJ Clarke inexplicably brings MG Johnson back on. His first three balls are 4-4-6. Pressure released. All I ask is to live each moment, free from the last…

As sure as I am – NZ get to 4/118. What would the captain do now? Give MR Marsh a bowl? He does, 11 off the over. That’s the last we see of MR Marsh who’s had a dirty day. MA Starc back on. GJ Maxwell given a trundle. Gets a slogging wicket. CJ Anderson (5/131, 19.4 overs) Make your decision now, rely on no help from above…

Italian plastic – L Ronchi in now. Pressure situation. Whacks GJ Maxwell for 6 second ball. MA Starc from the other end is a handful. Bounces him out with one that brushes L Ronchi’s gloves. (6/139, 20.6 overs). MA Starc now 8-0-27-4. Thirteen to win. I say we’re having fun, nothing like that Italian plastic…

She goes on – PJ Cummins handled comfortably by KS Williamson, who collects 3 from the first three balls. Then a wide. DL Vettori gets a couple and then DL Vettori chips a full toss to mid-on. Seven to win. (7/145, 21.5 overs). MA Starc the next over. KS Williamson takes a single from the second ball. Three slips. MA Starc to AF Milne: bowled. Six to win. (8/146, 22.3 overs). MA Starc to TG Southee: bowled. Six to win. (9/146, 22.4 overs). MA Starc on a hat-trick. Two balls left. And TA Boult survives. MA Starc 9-0-6-28. In a world without end…

How will you go – So it’s PJ Cummins to KJ Williamson. One wicket. Six runs. And its: SIX. KJ Williamson slams a six straight down the ground! He makes room by exposing all his stumps. He got a full delivery in the groove and tonked it over long on. Mid on was in for some reason and he pumped the air even before the ball had reached the boundary. NZ win by 1 wicket. How will you go?, how will you go?, drive through the wind and the rain…



About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. A champion team will always beat a team that thinks they’re champions.
    India and the Kiwis will be a cracker in the final. Thanks ER.

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Dave, have you heard the uncredited song at the end of Woodface that appears well after the finish of ‘How Will You Go’, the just over a minute long Paul Hester sung ‘I’m Still Here’? Maybe a metaphor for GJ Bailey, our ODI leader.
    Superb work tying in Woodface to the huge World Cup (and Chappell/Hadlee Trophy) match.
    Woodface was the first album I ever bought on CD. Along with Stoneage Romeos as described in Smokie’s excellent article, it’s in my top 10. And number 2 album when it comes to Crowded House for me.
    Fleming-esque is right. Best NZ tactics against Australia since that wonderful drawn Trans-Tasman series here in 2001/02.

  3. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Stylish and thoughtful, Dave. I support your lofting of those values over mid-on.

    The Cygnet’s Under 12s had won their own Trophy on Saturday morning. They were all class. And he lay on the couch post match and gave the cockatoo yellows the kind of attention they deserved for that match. He read a book.

  4. Dave Brown says

    Nice work. Rarely have I been less disappointed with an Australian loss. Even in a week where some of our champions past did not cover themselves in glory, the current batch excel at boorishness. I’m hoping young Agar has a video library of Dan Vettori bowling and being – what a wonderful cricketer!

  5. Great work, Dave.
    An excellent cricket match.
    And an excellent album. If you are going to bring in your brother
    for one album only, might as well make it a beauty!

  6. David, if you saw the game literally “from” Auckland, you wouldn’t have missed the Finns at the Zoo.
    But if you weren’t, you did.

  7. Dave- excellent observations. Thanks.

    As he’s surely a free agent can we let Russell Crowe go home?

    Of course I’d prefer us to win the cup, but, as the Coodabeens might say, the Kiwis winning the whole thing would be GFC (Good For Cricket).

    They’re playing well and they’re playing in attractive ways too. I’m always cautious about ideas of entitlement, but it’d be a fitting coda for Vettori.

    Best give Woodface a spin now.

  8. E.regnans says

    G’day all,
    thanks for your contributions.
    PB – Yes I wonder about this team v individual idea. Cohesive *synergy* notoriously difficult to orchestrate. At least GJ Bailey is in the squad. Midas.
    Luke – what’s number 1? And while we’re on the RockWiz path, what was your first concert?
    Mathilde – it was in the slot. Congratulations (twice) to your cygnet.
    DaveB – DL Vettori may be drinking from the Fountain of Youth.
    Smokie – thanks. Both handy.
    Peter – Finns at the zoo? Regrettably I remain in Melbourne Town. The only fins at our zoo are in the aquarium section.
    Mickey – GFC, probably. But any cricket played in a positive and adventurous spirit is appealing, regardless of the teams. NZ under S Fleming and now under B McCullum have a terrific record of enterprise. Well played, them. Australia under MJ Clarke had that for a time, too. And may again. But presently, no.

  9. Hey Dave

    Very stylish as always, but gee, I reckon you’re being hard on Clarke. Using the short ball as a strategy is hardly bodyline. I also think McCullum handled that ball poorly. He took his eye off it and that’s what happens when you do. Anyway, no biggie. Wrapt to see the Kiwis get up. Be great for the game if they can win the cup.

  10. John Butler says

    E Reg, I usually find myself in furious agreement with you, but this time I must demur.

    T-Bone is right, absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of bowling short to McCullum. Batting as he is, he’s virtually taking the piss out of the quicks. They’re just supposed to make him a cup of tea?

    Clarke and Johnson’s problem on the day was that the idea was so poorly executed.

    Woodface is an interesting album choice given the subject: the Crowded House album where big brother Tim uncomfortably tries to crash li’l bro’s party and ends up sounding like a spare wheel. A subtle comment on the current state of relations in the Australian dressing room?

  11. E.regnans says

    G’day T-bone, JB,
    Excellent comments.
    Yes this probably is hard on Clarke.
    You’ve got me thinking.
    If it was Test match cricket, would those tactics be accepted? Probably. Ugly though, they were.
    Then the same should probably apply to limited overs cricket.
    Maybe I’ve got a different expectation about limited overs cricket. It remains a hit & giggle, maybe. Not something to be taken that seriously. The place for BB McCullum to go the tonk.
    Fair point you each raise.

    JB – re: T Finn. Interesting reading you’ve made there. Nothing intentional in the writing. Not at the conscious level, anyway.

  12. Good on ya ER. No shame in erring on the side of nobility. And going with short ball tactics always comes across as unimaginative in my book too. Getting someone out caught at fly slip or in the second of two gully’s is what a captain who wants to leave a mark as a tactician should strive for …. lest they be compared to Jardine.

  13. Folks, if you don’t have foxtel, and you’ve not caught any of Afghanistan’s games thus far, I urge you to tune into today’s match in Perth. Afghanistan’s fast bowlers Shapoor, Hassan and Dawlat are the real deal. There should be some real fireworks with these 3 berserkers in action. And the feeling I get when I watch Hassan in particular is that when he’s in his approach, he’s struggling to restrain himself from continuing right down the pitch and dishing out a hip and shoulder to the batsmen. The man is simply ferocious.

  14. Luke Reynolds says

    ER- my number 1 CH album (and my no.1 of all time by any artist) is Together Alone from 1993. A perfect album if ever there was one. First Gig- Midnight Oil in Geelong. With Diesel as support. Good times.

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