My corner of the oval

… thoughts from a Kiwi cricket fan

My very own meet & greet!

Fresh off their history-making One-Day series win in South Africa …

Series winners over South Africa

Series winners over South Africa

… the New Zealand Black Caps hit the ground running on their return home, with a T20 series against the highly-favoured England side!

NZ v England 2013

NZ v England 2013

The first instalment of the T20 series, held at Eden Park in Auckland, didn’t quite go according to plan … in so far as victory for the home side goes 😉

However, it was still a fantastic spectacle of big-hitting cricket (the English hit 15 balls OVER the rather “postage stamp” sized boundaries of Eden Park!) … and reminded the New Zealand boys just what it takes to win at T20!

And win they did come round 2 in Hamilton two days later!

Batting first after losing the toss, Martin Guptill and new boy on the block, Hamish Rutherford combined to set up the innings nicely for master blaster extraordinaire, Brendon McCullum to smash 74 runs off 38 balls, including 5 sixes, and set the English a total of 193 to take the series.

Mitchell McClenaghan appeals for a wicket

Mitchell McClenaghan … appealing 😉

Enter Mitchell McClenaghan, Trent Boult and Ian Butler who, between them, knocked any impetus out of the English batting line up and ensured a, relatively, easy victory to New Zealand by 55 runs!

Ian Butler makes his return known in the team!

Ian Butler makes his return known in the team!

And so with the series tied at 1-1, the two teams head further south to my home town of Wellington!

Hoping for at least one chance to be able to say hello to any of the players and wish them well, you can imagine my disappointment when New Zealand Cricket announces the meet and greet/signing session would be held in Lower Hutt … some 20 kilometres away, during a work-day, so there would be no way I could get the time off to attend 😦

My disappointment soon turned to disbelief … and then delight when, walking through town on my lunch break a day after the teams arrival in the city, I spy directly in my path the man they call Mr February!

Don’t forget to vote (Cleo Bachelor of the Year!)

Also known as Mitch McClenaghan, which is how I got his attention to shake his hand as he stood in a queue for sushi on a busy Wellington street!

I guess that’s one thing my years of cricket watching and supporting have instilled in me – being naturally so shy and terrified of talking to anyone, let alone people I’ve never met before, I’ve found myself being a bit more confident and feeling able to do things like that (rocking up to a total stranger and saying hi, for example!) … of course, it helps that a couple of the New Zealand Black Caps have made themselves available to the fans on Twitter and I have been able to share a bit of “banter” and support with them there … and so as soon as I mentioned my twitter-handle, the recognition was complete!  (I hope I’m not really that infamous amongst the team – heh heh!)

Saying hello to Martin Guptill and Colin Munro who were also in attendance and not really wanting to whip my camera out in the middle of town during “rush” lunch hour and ask for a momento, I satisfied myself with a quick friendly chat … although, I wasn’t really much help when it came to confirming or denying the food quality of the chosen establishment; sorry about that guys!

So after being dejected about missing out on an official meet with the players earlier in the week … I ended up being totally blessed and overjoyed at a chance meeting … which, if you think about it, is probably better in a way 🙂

Hopefully I haven’t made myself too annoying to the team and I have the chance to add to my “meet and greet” hall of fame … following a New Zealand victory at Westpac Stadium against the English of course!  (They just have to play better than Tuesday night, that’s all 😉 – heh heh!)

Thanks again, Martin, Colin and Mitch for not only taking the time out to meet cricket fans in Lower Hutt … but for also making my year and not minding a fanatical cricket supporter interrupting your lunch break!

Oh, and go the Black Caps in the deciding T20 tomorrow night … I’ve been looking forward to this match since the schedule was announced months ago, and can’t wait to finally see BOTH teams performing to the peak of their abilities on the field in front of me!

More high fives and winning smiles please!

More high fives and winning smiles please!

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The wait is over!

As the teams begin their warm ups …

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)Steven Finn, Stuart Broad and Luke Wright chat with Andre Adams at Eden Park

Steven Finn, Stuart Broad and Luke Wright chat with Andre Adams at Eden Park (photo courtesy of Getty Images)

… and the uniforms are handed out …

(Photo courtesy of Ross Taylor)

(Photo courtesy of Ross Taylor)

I suddenly felt a surge of excitement yesterday as I realised this English cricket team’s tour, that I have been waiting months to commence, was actually just around the corner!

I don’t know what makes a cricket tour by the English such an exciting event … is it something to do with the traditional “home of cricket” notion that the team from the British Isles bring?

Or maybe it’s cause I am a sucker for accents, particularly Irish and English accents?  😉

Or maybe it’s cause the English fans are so … well, fanatical, and passionate, and supportive of their side?

Or maybe it’s because for the first time I actually have access to Sky Sport’s TV coverage and the use of a LARGE screen television in my own home and will be able to enjoy the sporting action from the comfort of my own couch 😉

Or maybe it’s because I admire the way the English team play their cricket and love being able to have the opportunity to see them playing the game on our home turf, because it gives me the chance to see at least two of the games live and in the flesh 🙂

Whatever the reason, for some reason, I have been finding myself desperately praying to the weather gods (or God, whichever you prefer! 😉 ) to bless us with fine, and uninterrupted days of beautiful cricketing weather, so that as cricket fans we can enjoy the T20, One-Day, and Test match series and the cricketing skills that will be on offer throughout the next six or seven weeks!

Like Stuart Broad says near the end of this video, “the sun always shines!”  😉

I am not even too concerned with the results of the three series … although, as a fanatical New Zealand Cricket supporter, I will of course be hoping that the boys in their new ANZ-sponsored uniforms will be able to work together as a team, and show the fighting Kiwi spirit we all know and love and applaud, and come out on the victorious side of the ledger at the end of the tour!

I can’t WAIT for the first ball to be bowled in the T20 match at Eden Park, Auckland tonight at 7.00pm … even though I’ll only be watching this particularly game from the aforementioned couch 😉

And I wish all concerned in the series, but particularly our NZ lads, the very best of success, safety and good sportsmanship to bring us, what promises to be a fantastic cricket tour!

Is anyone else as excited for this tour to start as I am?!!  😉

(photo courtesy of www.cricinfo.com)Well, Boulty jumping for joy about the tour, anyway ...)  ;)

Well, Boulty’s jumping for joy about the tour, anyway …) (Photo courtesy of http://www.cricinfo.com)

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Live blog: Sunday afternoon at the cricket

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon, than to spend it sitting in the sun (yes, we’re onto our tenth sunny day in succession in the Capital!) and watching the Wellington and Canterbury cricket sides do battle in the Plunket Shield competition.
Canterbury batted first, putting on 329 runs before the Firebirds hit back on day two with 356 runs, including yet another Plunket Shield century this season, this time from Steve Murdoch (102).
Day three saw the Wizards batting again, and this time they were able to declare their innings closed at 410/7, meaning the Firebirds needed to score 384 runs to take the win.
Well placed at the tea break on day four on 305/7, thanks to contributions from Michael Papps (65), Jesse Ryder (31), Grant Elliott (91) and Harru Boam (60*), the Wizards need another 3 wickets, while Wellington need 79 runs!
Let’s go, Firebirds!

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