My corner of the oval

… thoughts from a Kiwi cricket fan

#savetheBasin

Often over-used and misused in social media and other media outlets, in this case, the above phrase fits my thoughts precisely.  In this case, we need to #savetheBasin from ill-informed and short-sighted people who might sadly get listened to!

For some reason, my local newspaper, the Dominion Post, has decided to continuously publish a plethora of ill-informed and one-eyed “Letters to the Editor” suggesting that one of the premium cricket grounds in the world, the Basin Reserve in Wellington, is past it’s use by date, is never used, and horrifyingly, suggesting that, in order to fix the traffic congestion problems Wellington commuters endure every day, the Basin Reserve should be demolished entirely!

Have you ever heard anything so ridiculously absurd and shortsighted?

So, by this logic, because I never use the Newtown athletics track, or the National Hockey Stadium, and instead of providing them care and attention to keep them up to date and looking nice for the people who DO use them, we should just demolish them and put something else in their place?

I can’t believe there are people out there who actually seriously think demolishing things instead of looking after them and taking pride in them, is a viable solution to anything.

But the main reason people seem to have such a strong opinion about the roundabout at the Basin Reserve intersection is because they seem to think this is what is causing the traffic congestion delays in the city every day.

Let me be clear.  The roundabout at the Basin Reserve is NOT responsible for the congestion in Wellington every day!  And doing something rash and horrifying like removing the Basin Reserve, will NOT remove the traffic congestion problems at that part of the city.

Do you know what will remove the traffic congestion problems?  Well, for a start, motorists using commonsense when it comes to merging with other traffic into a single lane from three lanes, like did you know that you can’t actually fit two cars side by side into a single lane?  So maybe, if we gave each other a bit of space BEFORE we get to the single lane situation, traffic might move a little easier.

Also, this habit motorists in Wellington have of following blindly behind the car in front of them into an intersection when the Road Code clearly states that you should not enter an intersection if you cannot exit it on the other side.  We seem to have this idea that we might somehow miss out or get left behind if we don’t somehow get through the light change, not realising that if we left the intersection clear, it would free up the other intersections around the city and everyone would actually get home that little bit faster, ourselves included.

Another argument against the Basin Reserve is that it is never used.

Clearly the people with this idea really do have no idea what goes on behind the fences of the cricket ground throughout each year; fences which, incidentally have to be in place to prevent idiotic vandals doing damage and causing money to be spent on fixing up the damage caused by this, rather than using that money to do things like, oh, I don’t know, refurbish the RA Vance Stand, or do up the toilet facilities for the patrons who attend matches and events at the ground throughout the year, or install lights at the ground so that the Basin Reserve can be utilised for even move events, not just sports events either.

People for some reason have this idea that the Basin Reserve is only used during the months of November through to March.  Which, while this may be the peak time for the summer sport of cricket to be using the ground, couldn’t be further from the truth.

I mean, just this weekend coming, the Armageddon Expo is in Wellington, and they have booked out the use of the Basin Reserve over the weekend for one of their events.

And last year, the Basin Reserve was used for several musical events, notably the concert by Robbie Williams.

And currently, the Basin Reserve groundstaff have installed rugby and soccer goal posts so the ground can be used as a club rugby and soccer ground during the months of April to October.

And on the rare occasions you might drive past and see “nothing happening” at the Basin Reserve, don’t be fooled; the facilities are used by an event company, Scarlet Events, which have held many occasions and gatherings over the years, and in the years to come.

Also not forgetting that the Cricket Wellington offices are actually based AT the Basin Reserve so the ground gets “used” every day by these staff also.

Just last week, New Zealand Cricket released the schedule of matches to be fitted in to cricket grounds around the country and the Basin Reserve for the next season of cricket is being used for two international test matches, which means training and net sessions leading up to and during the matches, as well as the matches themselves.  And we haven’t even had the schedule released for the domestic cricket season, either, which means the Wellington Firebirds and Blaze cricket teams will be using the ground for training, net sessions, matches, and other functions, for the days, weeks and months in between the international cricket schedule from October through to April next year.

How can people say the Basin Reserve is never used?

Do other premier cricket grounds around the world get this much flak and disrespect?

And just in case you were thinking the Basin Reserve should be demolished because it’s an “eye-sore” or “ugly” (I mean, how can a green field surrounded by trees ever be  described as ugly, I ask you?!) these things take time and money (a lot of money, actually) and so they have to be planned out and the Wellington City Council and Cricket Wellington have got this plan set out, which you can read here if you would like to be better informed.

I would like to invite all those detractors and correspondents to actually enjoy the Basin Reserve for what it is, over the next summer months:  an oasis of green in amidst the busy hustle and bustle of commuting life, and maybe they will learn to appreciate the nice things that we have in this city of ours, instead of wanting to destroy all things pleasant and positive!

12 Feb - NZ v Aus - test day 1 - 11a

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Reasons why the NZ World T20 campaign was a success

How can it be a success, I hear you say; our team failed. They were beaten in the semifinal stage.
Yes, they were.  And the team that beat them in the semifinal played better T20 cricket, and earned their place in the final of the tournament.  And naturally, as an ardent Black Caps supporter, one is always preferring to reach the ultimate goal in tournaments such as these.

However, if you take a step back from your disappointment for a moment, you will see several successes and hopes to build on in the future.
Well, my successes and hopes for the future, anyway …

Kane Williamson’s captaincy:
Some may criticise and deride Kane for calls he made in the semifinal, but for a young captain, leading a team for the first time in a major tournament, throughout the competition he gained praise from around the world about his confident and positive captaincy.  His fledgling captaincy shouldn’t be judged on this one game, and from what we have seen so far, he has the makings of yet another “great” NZ cricket captain!

Colin Munro:  Everyone (by that, I mean the usual keyboard warriors!) didn’t always give Munro the credit he deserved for his batsman ship and, while some of that may have been sometimes deserved in previous years, since being recalled to the national team, it is clearly evident that he has really worked on his game (anyone watching domestic cricket in NZ this season would agree too) and he seemed to take his promotion to number three in the batting order seriously, taking the time on many occasions to build an innings, and partnerships, to work towards the team totals.  And he hasn’t lost the flair and creativity that we love about him either!  One of my lasting T20 World Cup memories will be his audacious reverse late cut!

Ish Sodhi:  Okay, I make no secret of it – I’m a Sodhi fan-girl, but I have been for a while actually.  But when you watched a bowler develop his craft over the years, taking his chances in the national side when given them, it is immensely pleasing to see him being praised on the international scene after his efforts at the T20 World Cup!  And when he can, together with Mitchell Santner, out-spin the “spin kings” of India, the future for NZ spin looks bright, even with the retirement of Nathan McCullum!

Mitchell McClenaghan:  Another player who is often misunderstood by critics of NZ cricket, Mitch seems to have gone from strength to strength this year!  Self-confessed as wanting to be the number 1 T20 bowler in the world, Mitch steps up time and again in matches, this season in particular, with cunning bowling strategies and proving he is more than just the “bouncy and aggressive” bowler we’ve seen in the past.  If he keeps on this road, number one won’t be too far away, I reckon!

Well, that’s just four of my highlights and positives from the Black Caps World T20 trip … and I haven’t even mentioned Martin Guptill, or Mitchell Santner, or Nathan McCullum, among others!  All I can finish with is that it is so great to have a cricket team, enjoying playing all variations of cricket (ie  T20, ODI and Tests) and enjoying being part of this team, and improving as individuals and as a team while they do it; the future looks bright for us fans!

PS Thanks Mike Hesson and Mike Sandle, and the rest of the team, for once again bringing our team so well through a world tournament!

PPS Thanks Nathan McCullum for a wonderful limited overs cricket career for NZ; you will really be missed, but we thank you for passing on your knowledge and experience and leaving our spin bowling stocks in good shape!

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The legacy lives on …

As I sit and watch archive footage courtesy of Sky NZ of the “Max Blacks” playing Cricket Max cricket, with expert commentary from the man behind the idea, Martin Crowe, I wish I could find the words to express just how much I owe to New Zealand’s greatest batsman for just how much I appreciate what he meant to myself, and I’m certain many, many cricket supporters and players around the world. 
Instead, I think I’ll let pictures say thank you for me …

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The noticeboard of the Streetwise coffee cart on my roadtrip this week

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I will treasure this signed copy of Out on a Limb forever!

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The Rememberence Book at the NZ Cricket Museum that I could express my thoughts in

Thank you Martin Crowe for instilling a love of cricket in me and many others!
We shall keep the enjoyment and love going as you would have wanted us to.

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Dear Wellington Cricket fans …

I am not calling this an “open letter” because it’s not really a letter; it’s a blog post, that anyone can read if they so wish, but I had to come up with some kind of title …

Anyway, I digress …

This weekend, I attended a One Day International cricket match between our New Zealand Black Caps and the Champion Australian team, and while impressed by the general overall behaviour of the 22,000 strong crowd at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, I did have a couple of moments of disappointment.

First of all, we seem to have this horrendous habit in this country of booing.  I mean, I can understand a sigh of disappointment, perhaps, when things don’t go your teams way, but loud choruses of “boo!” ringing around the Stadium for, for example, when an opposition bowler loses his run-up and has to pull out and start again.  I mean, really?  How does that warrant anyone booing at him for wanting to get his action totally correct so he, for one thing, doesn’t do himself a horrible injury if he gets it wrong?  And I noted there were times when a New Zealand Black Caps’ bowler had to pull out of their run-up for not getting it exactly right – how come we didn’t boo them?  It was for exactly the same reason as the opposition bowler.  Why can’t we just respect the sportsmen in front of us, regardless of their team that they play for, and respect them for the amount of skill and expertise they are showing to us?

And have you ever stopped to think just how hideous people actually look when they are mid-boo?  I mean, it’s quite hilarious actually.  If they actually knew how bad they looked, they’d stop in an instant, I reckon!

The other moment of disappointment that I had was when the Australian team were fielding in the first innings and David Warner had the misfortune of having to field at the third-man or fine-leg boundary line.  I guess he’s not the most popular of the visiting Australian team, but he’s a pretty spectacular player in his own right, whether he’s batting or fielding.  He deserves a bit of respect for just what he can do, not the obscene chants that get yelled at him from the other side of the boundary fence.  Do these people even realise what they are saying when they chant these horrendous things?  And apart from the obvious disrespect of it all, do these chanters not actually realise that all they are doing is firing up the likes of David Warner even more, and making him field 100% better, and bat 100% better, just to rub it in the faces of those who taunted him?  (This was obvious when he came out with his batting partner in the second innings and bludgeoned 98 runs in quick time!)

And then the same section of crowd, the very next time David Warner was fielding near them, was chanting for him to “give us a wave.”  I mean, seriously?  After what they were just chanting at him moments ago, they expect him to turn around and give them a cheery wave?

I know it’s all supposed to be “just in fun,” and “it’s only banter,” and “it’s all part of the environment,” but you can still have fun, and banter, and create a sporting environment by being a bit more respectful, not only of the opposition, but of our own team and the other people watching.  If there’s anything anyone should have been able to notice from our New Zealand Black Caps over the last few years, is that you can actually enjoy yourself and yet still be competitive, but you don’t need to disrespect the opposition to do it.

It’s time to raise ourselves ABOVE the lowest common denominator, people, and have a bit of respect for each other (and ourselves!)

Hopefully, at the test match starting at the Basin Reserve at the end of this week, we will be able to actually just enjoy the Australians being in our country for once, and appreciate them for the skills and abilities they have on show.  They may be the “enemy,” but they’re still all jolly good at what they do, and I for one am pretty darn impressed by what I see on the cricket field every time I see a match!  That deserves respect, not derision!

Rant over …

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A greater appreciation

I haven’t blogged in AGES, but what better reason to start again than following a sensational victory by our New Zealand Black Caps over Pakistan at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, last night!
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I mean, of course I’ve been able to watch all, well, mostly all, of the Black Cap’s home fixtures this summer, but there’s something so different about being there, at the ground, watching and absorbing every moment live and in person.
And not only did the Black Caps defy history by batting first at the Stadium, scoring the highest T20 score (196) at this ground, but the way they went about it was, for want of a better word, brilliant in it’s execution and completion!
From the clean striking of Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson to once again set the innings going with momentum, to the intelligence of Corey Anderson to “steady the ship” as the saying goes and build his own magnificent innings of 82 runs to achieve such a huge team score, to the (sorry to use the word again!) intelligent and thinking captaincy of Kane Williamson to move his bowlers and fielders throughout the Pakistan innings, let alone throughout each over; to the brilliance in the field as the New Zealanders proved yet again that catches do indeed win matches … and what catches they were – was anyone else’s heart in their mouth as the ball seemed to take forever to land safely in Mitch McClenaghan’s hands as he took an amazing over-the-shoulder , running catch at mid-on, or did anyone else’s jaw drop as Trent Boult seemingly plucked the ball from grass-height to take another catch in the outfield, and these guys are fast bowlers! They’re not supposed to do this, are they?!
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Yes, they are, and being able to see these athletes doing what they do in person at the ground makes this fan even MORE appreciative and thankful that our New Zealand Black Caps are continuing to play well, improve each day, and most of all enjoy what they can share with us!
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Photo courtesy of Black Caps Instagram

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Is it possible to care too much?!

Is it possible to care TOO much about a sports team, or about a sport that you love so much?

I have found myself asking this question a lot lately, particularly lately.  For example, I have been looking forward for SO long for the now-upon-us New Zealand Black Caps’ test tour of Australia, wishing more than ten times (a day!) that I was wealthy enough to be able to follow the team around each of the test venues for the tour, just so that I can drink in the atmosphere and match experience in person!

Is that too much?

Or actually making myself physically sick over the last couple of weeks, hearing stories out of London, and reading daily summary reports from that trial that is currently in process; I even had to talk to a couple of the guys at work about it last week, I was actually getting so anxious and upset at what this all means for this sport of cricket, not to mention this team that I seem to care about TOO much …

Am I caring too much?

Maybe I should really just take a step back, and try and find some other interests to take up my time and mind …

I don’t think I can though; especially when our New Zealand Black Caps play with such determination, and skill, and brilliant attitude – how can anybody not care about that?!

Needless to say, I think I’ll definitely be reaching my data cap on my smart phone over the next few weeks, and finding ways to follow the scoreboards as much as possible as our national cricket team goes up against one of the best cricket teams in the world, if not, the best at the moment.  It’s going to be such a fantastic tour, I reckon, but am I caring too much about it, and this team?!

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Why I love the Basin Reserve …

As I drove past the Basin Reserve Cricket Ground in Wellington (several times, in fact) at the weekend, I couldn’t help but feel sad that there are people in this country who have no appreciation for just what we have in our city.

I mean, aside from the obvious fact that the Basin Reserve is a top-class world-renowned Test cricket venue, where I personally have been privileged to witness many classic and historical cricket moments through the years …

The Basin Reserve in itself is also a rather stunning open Park, which the general population of the city have the privilege to enjoy for no cost to them.

27 Sep - Basin 2Many times I have wanted to go for a walk at the weekend, and decided to start my ventures from the Basin Reserve. As I walk through the stylish new wrought iron gates of the CS Dempster or JR Reid gates, I have often been greeted by many other people taking the chance to wander around the ground themselves. Just the other weekend, a family group were enjoying a fun game of backyard cricket on the lush outfield of the arena – it was so great to see!  But you are also greeted by the sight if people relaxing around on the splendid grass embankments.  I often think to myself how blessed we are in this city that we have such a beautiful and peaceful location to just sit and enjoy life for a time!

Latterly, I have also been really enjoying keeping an eye on various renovations and changes that have been taking place at the Basin Reserve.  Apart from the obvious pitch and ground preparations which always take place before the start of every new season, it has been fascinating to watch as the old Groundsman’s Cottage has been transformed into a well-appointed and necessary Groundsman’s Garage and Cottage in which the many pieces of equipment necessary for a curator of a cricket ground to complete his tasks, can be readily housed. Not to forget that the new “deck” area on top of the Garage in front of the Cottage gives a superb vantage point to oversea the entire ground … and keep an eye on the cricket action!  Tickets to the Groundsman’s Stand anyone?!

Work on the redevelopment of the Groundsman's facilities is looking good!

Work on the redevelopment of the Groundsman’s facilities is looking good!

The view from the vantage point of the Groundsman's Stand!

The view from the vantage point of the Groundsman’s Stand!

27 Sep - Basin 5

I haven’t even mentioned the NZ Cricket Museum, competently curated by Jamie Bell, which currently has a brilliant exhibition that you can stand out in the open air and sunshine to read about, in the “On a Foreign Field” display.  If you haven’t read all about the lives and achievements of eleven New Zealand cricketers “who went from heroes on the cricket field to heroes on the battlefield,” you really should pay the Basin Reserve a visit the next sunny Saturday we have!

The Basin Reserve - part of New Zealand Cricket history forever!

The Basin Reserve – part of New Zealand Cricket history forever!

I made up my mind that I was going to save up so that I could purchase a Cricket Wellington membership ticket this year … and I am so glad I did, because there is nothing better than having access to such a brilliant and beautiful landmark in the Basin Reserve!

27 Sep - Basin banner

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What a privilege!

It’s the first time in a long time I have been able to stay awake ALL through the night to watch a day of test cricket being televised from the other side of the world; but I am SO glad this weekend was Queen’s Birthday celebration weekend in New Zealand and I was able to spend day three of the second test match between England and New Zealand in Leeds, England transfixed on my couch back in New Zealand, because it was a fantastic day of test cricket to be privileged to see live!

Starting the day, the New Zealand bowlers needed to dismiss five more English batsmen and, in true test match fashion, four of these five were dispatched reasonably quickly, and then the stubborn “tail-end” batsmen, mostly in the form of Stuart Board finally discovering his batting form again, proceeded to inch the England first innings total closer to the New Zealand first innings total until, believe it or not, both sides were tied on exactly the same score when the final wicket fell (Only the eighth time in test cricket history this has happened, too, by the way).

Anyway, the New Zealand opening batsmen Tom Latham and Martin Guptill negotiated a tricky fifteen minute period before the lunch break and then what happened after lunch was something I was so privileged to have seen live!

After the sad dismissals of Latham and Kane Williamson cheaply, Ross Taylor strode to the crease, purposefully it seemed, and proceeded to attack the England bowlers as you would in a One-Day fixture!  But he wasn’t reckless about it either and the running between the wickets between himself and Guptill was a definite highlight of the 99-run partnership.

When Taylor was dismissed, sadly before he reached a deserved half century (he scored 48), the stage was set for Brendon McCullum to enter the fray and smash the bowling attack some more.  Or so the English commentators seemingly hoped!

(Photo courtesy of www.cricinfo.com)

(Photo courtesy of http://www.cricinfo.com)

Instead, McCullum, first with Guptill and then majorly with BJ Watling (playing as a specialist batsman in this test match), steadfastly and skilfully piled on the runs, and the pressure, as the New Zealand total (and lead!) grew at a rapid rate of knots.  But again, this wasn’t achieved by smashing boundaries and the like; instead I was transported back to the Basin Reserve in Wellington to a similar partnership between the same two batsmen when a triple century was scored on that particular occasion, the batting was so similar and McCullum and Watling were definitely doing it again today in England.

Despite the fact the McCullum was dismissed (with an ounce of luck for the English bowlers as the umpire’s decision to give him out LBW was reviewed and only JUST given in the bowler’s favour!) for 55 runs … but not before raising his 6000th test run for New Zealand … this didn’t seem to deter Watling from continuing the batting clinic as he continued on his merry way with Luke Ronchi at the other end, in his debut test match, chiming in with a healthily scored 31 runs to edge New Zealand closer to a 300 run lead.

Sadly Ronchi was dismissed before Watling could reach his century, but Mark Craig is definitely an able batsman in his own right and together they “steadied the ship” to see BJ Watling score the first test century by a New Zealand batsman at the Headingley Cricket Ground in Leeds!  And his first test century against England, for his own statistics, too!

(Photo courtesy of www.cricinfo.com)

(Photo courtesy of http://www.cricinfo.com)

So New Zealand lead by 338 runs with six sessions of the test match left to play; who knows what those six sessions of test cricket will hold, but I for one am so pleased and proud to have witnessed today’s three sessions and hope our Black Caps can go all the way with this one and bring this test series to a deserving 1-1 draw result!

#backtheBlackCaps

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And that was the Cricket World Cup for 2015 …

Wow!  What a ride, as they say!

The ICC Cricket World Cup is over and done for another four years, and Australia have duly been crowned world champions following their victory over the New Zealand Black Caps in the final on 29 March 2015!

Yes, you read that right – New Zealand qualified for the final of a World Cup for the first time in history, which shows just how fantastically our team of fifteen players performed!

But this was actually not the highlight of the tournament for me …

Nor actually was it the fact that our New Zealand Black Caps played through the round-robin games and quarter-final and semifinal, remaining unbeaten by all they came across (including beating the eventual title-winners, Australia, in their round-robin match-up in Auckland)!

My highlight wasn’t the brilliant swing bowling typified by our Black Caps, gloriously summed up in the Cup-record 7 wickets for 33 runs by Tim Southee against England in Wellington, and the 5 wickets for 27 runs by Trent Boult against Australia in Auckland!

It wasn’t even our impressive top-order batting unit who one by one, each match they played, stepped up and took our team through to victory.  Typified by Martin Guptill’s quite sensational historic 237 (not out) against the West Indies in Wellington in the quarter-final!

It wasn’t even again seeing the hard work of our fearless Captain, Brendon McCullum, moving bowlers and fielders about brazenly in order to get the breakthroughs required!

No, for me, the highlight of the ICC World Cup 2015 was having a New Zealand cricket team conduct themselves on, and off, the park with dignity, respect and humility … even when it was clear that they were the team to beat in the competition!

I know who I'd rather have on my side!

I know who I’d rather have on my side!

I have since read sad reports of the Australian crowds at the Final actually BOOING their own team members!  I mean, how sad is that, when your own countrymen and women can’t even cheer for you?!

New Zealand, you have every reason to be proud and satisfied with how this team of cricketers played for you at this tournament!  They may not have won the coveted title (but let’s be fair, this was their first chance at a Final occasion, and many teams couldn’t even get this far!) but they “won” many, many new fans and supporters around the world because of the way they went about their jobs!

Keep your heads held high, New Zealand Black Caps; New Zealand is proud of you and how you competed on the world stage!

29 Mar - proud

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Happiness breeds success …

I know they say “success breeds happiness” but as I sat in the seats at the Wellington Regional Stadium yesterday, before the scheduled start of play in the Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and England, our allocated seats gave us a privileged view as the two teams went through their warm-up routines on the field in front of us.

And I was able to observe the New Zealand Black Caps warming up with a riotous game of football … well, kind of football …

NZ Black Caps warm up before play

NZ Black Caps warm up before play

… and the sound of their banter and chat, and every so often, a burst of laughter, floated across the Stadium towards us.  I turned to my friend beside me and simply stated, “Happy team!”

In some ways, a happy sports team is brought about by that team getting winning results and maintaining them, but I think the opposite can also be true!  If you breed a happy environment and encourage and support the team mates to be who and what they can be, that brings about the success as well.

And a lot of the credit for our HAPPY cricket team at present has to be given to the coaching and captaincy styles from the likes of Mike Hesson and Brendon McCullum.  As well as the input and encouragement from Chris Donaldson, Shane Bond, Craig McMillan, Mike Sandle, Bruce Edgar and the others who work tirelessly behind the scenes of what goes on on the field and never seem to be noticed.

And so I say thank you to all of the abovenamed, as well as to the fifteen players in the playing team who are pushing and encouraging each other to be the best they can be … but also, to enjoy and make the most of every moment as they represent our country with pride and respect!

#backtheBlackCaps – heck, yes!!!  :D

We're all in this together!

We’re all in this together!

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