My corner of the oval

… thoughts from a Kiwi cricket fan

Thanks Black Caps!

(courtesy of Sky Sport)

(courtesy of Sky Sport)

Well, when this test cricket series against England (the #2 ranked side in the world, by the way) started, I said to myself that I would be happy with a drawn series …

After the third and final test match finished today at Eden Park in Auckland, it’s not hard to feel a little tinge of disappointment that the series didn’t end 1-0 … and not in favour of the visitors either; the New Zealand Black Caps did everything they could to remove the English batsmen from their doggedly determined innings at the batting crease (in order to draw the match for themselves) and to come within ONE wicket of what would surely have been an historical moment, not only for the team but for the fans around the country, leaves one with a slightly bitter feeling 😦

But as they say, it’s just a game, although for a short time there around the country, everyone loved our national cricket side (something the loyal fans are always happy to see!) and the Stadium of 4.5 million was willing our boys to pick themselves up and find the energy to bowl one more delivery, or take one more catch!

There’s a lot to be liking, too, about our national cricket side at the moment; not even considering some of the outstanding performances put forward in the limited overs section of the tour, the test series for me has seen many highlights, both cricket related and personally:

  • In Dunedin, bowling the tourists out on the “first” day of the test match for 167 runs, and Bruce Martin bursting onto the test cricket scene with a 4 wicket haul was a great start!
  • And then pushing home the advantage with a fabulous century opening wicket stand from Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford iced the cake perfectly.
  • Hamish Rutherford’s 171 in his test debut deserves it’s own bulletpoint!  😉
  • The New Zealand bowlers tirelessly bowling over after over at the English batsmen in their second innings and just about coming away with enough wickets for a result too!
  • Neil Wagner taking 7 wickets for the match!
  • At the hallowed Basin Reserve, the main highlight for me was being able to be at the ground in person, appreciating the efforts of our team live and in the flesh 🙂
  • The Duck of course has to be mentioned 😉
  • Getting to watch Kane Williamson bat on almost every day of the test match … okay, not such a great highlight in terms of the match result, but that guy can sure bat well!
  • Fighting batting partnerships from the New Zealand batsmen in the second innings to bat for a drawn match.
    And fighting bowling again, in particular the great battle between Bruce Martin and Kevin Pietersen!
  • Getting the chance to say hi and good luck personally to BJ Watling, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner at various points along the test match 🙂
  • Along to Eden Park, and the key highlight on day one has to be Peter Fulton’s maiden test century … especially after the English had won the toss and chosen to bowl first!
  • Another fabulous partnership between Peter Fulton and Kane Williamson, with the latter coming oh, so close to another test century himself.
  • Bowling England out, after many punters had expressed disappointment in the state of the test pitch, for more than 250 runs less than NZ had got first up!
  • Being in the position to enforce the follow-on and choosing not to, rather to keep the scoreboard pressure on and totally demoralise the English bowlers further by setting a target in excess of 400 runs!
  • Brendon McCullum never giving up with his imaginative and attacking captaincy decisions, even staying on the field for the team with a hamstring strain (get well soon, Baz!)
  • And to round out the test series with our bowlers again seemingly tirelessly sending down over after over in the hopes of a rare test victory, definitely made me feel proud to be a NZ Cricket supporter!

Finally, congratulations to Peter Fulton for topping the “most runs” table for the series … and Neil Wagner for topping the “most wickets” table!  Especially after I had heard such great things about the all-conquering England bowlers; it is very gratifying to see two New Zealanders (Trent Boult was second-equal on the list) at the top of the bowling rankings 🙂

Bring on Test #4 at Lords, England, 16-20 May!  You can bet the England team won’t be taking our boys so slightly next time – hehe!

Thanks for a fantastic 2012/13 cricket season, Black Caps - rest well, and all the best for the overseas tours coming up! (Photo courtesy of www.cricinfo.com)

Thanks for a fantastic 2012/13 cricket season, Black Caps – rest well, and all the best for the overseas tours coming up!
(Photo courtesy of http://www.cricinfo.com)

PS Please leave your thoughts, highlights, comments in the comments section below – I’d love to know your thoughts on our team/season this year 🙂

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Thanks for the cap Kane!

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My signed Kane Williamson cap turned up right on time 😉

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A soggy end to my test cricket holiday :(

Courtesy of Cricinfo

Courtesy of Cricinfo

Yep, not a lot happened on day five of my cricketing holiday at the Basin Reserve today … the drought is well and truly broken; and New Zealand and England are tied 0-0 heading up to Auckland now for the deciding test match on Friday!

About the only highlights for me on this day were heading to the Basin when the rain finally stopped … and the game being officially abandoned 😦

Well, at least I had the opportunity to say thanks and good-bye to my favourite merchandise stand attendant, who knows me by sight now after a couple of seasons of test cricket at the ground – heh heh!

I also finally had the chance to say hi to Neil Wagner, as the team were loading their gear bags into the mini vans to take them back to the hotel (or straight on to the airport!) … told him to win the next test so England lost a rankings place – ha ha!

And the last word has to go to @DuckNewZealand who was drawn back to the hallowed turf, no doubt by the damp conditions underfoot and a few seagulls hanging around 😉

"Quack!"  Well, really ... what else would he say?! ;)

“Quack!”
Well, really … what else would he say?! 😉

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My test cricket holiday … well, at least the drought is broken!

The main high/low light of today was …

Hold on tight, lads!!!

Hold on tight, lads!!!

Yep, that was pretty much the story of day 4 of the test at the Basin Reserve today!

On one hand, it was a low light because Kane Williamson and Peter Fulton had been batting together so well last night before the end of the day’s play, that I wanted desperately for them to have the chance to put together an even bigger partnership the next day too!

But it was really a highlight because, the day after the North Island of New Zealand had been officially declared a drought zone, the drought was broken (albeit softly and drizzly!) by the rain that came to upset the cricket fans gathered at the Basin!

We got used to seeing this a lot 

Lonely security guards guard the covered pitch area

Lonely security guards guard the covered pitch area

Although, in saying that, the players did manage to get through the entire first session of the day … but sadly Peter Fulton didn’t achieve my wishes of another big partnership and was dismissed for 45.

That brought Mr Ross Taylor to the crease, sitting on a King Pair (which meant, given he was dismissed off the first ball he faced in the first innings, if he was dismissed off the first ball of the second innings also, he would be “honoured” with the King Pair description of his dismissal!)

Thankfully, he survived this and proceeded to stroke his way to 41 and put together a handy partnership with the ever-improving and stunning to watch Kane Williamson (55 not out) … before rain again had it’s say and play was abandoned for the day.

A shout-out must go to the “stayers” who sat and stood around the Basin Reserve, in various vantage points, patiently waiting for the drizzle to dissipate and the match to be able to commence again!  I think we all deserve a mallowpuff for that effort 😉

Hopefully tomorrow dawns bright and sunny … despite the forecast … and I can have one last chance this season to see my favourite Black Caps playing live, on the best cricket ground in the world!  😉

Although I think I have a cold now after all that standing around in the rain 😦

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My test cricket holiday – day three!

Day three of my holiday at the test cricket started in regular fashion – early rising to beat the English fans to the front of the queue for gate-opening at 9am … and in case you’re wondering why so early, if you’ve ever tried sitting on the blue terrace seating for a whole day at the cricket without the luxury of a wall to lean back against, you’ll understand why the back row of the terrace section at the Basin Reserve fills up fast!  😉  Hence the early starts!

Also I get to add several highlights to my day at the cricket … such as:

  • Saying hi to Tim Southee as he wanders past on his way to a net session before play.
  • Saying hi to BJ Watling and “Nice day for a century today, BJ?” to which he smiled and nodded in reply … Our plan almost worked too, BJ – 60 runs!  So close!!  And so well batted too 🙂
  • Remembering that I was asked for Tim Southee’s autograph for a cricketing friend and ambushing him (well, not really!) on his way back from the nets to get said autograph (Thanks Tim!)
Lunch time fun at the Basin!

Lunch time fun at the Basin!

  • Neil Wagner running up the steps beside me in the lunch break, but not wanting to distract him by saying hi for fear that he would fall flat on his face!  (Those steps are tricky at the best of times, let alone wearing batting pads and sprigs!)
  • Oh, a cricketing highlight – Brendon McCullum scoring 69 exciting runs … although, I was sad he couldn’t get the last few runs for a deserved century!
  • Fighting 100 run partnership between McCullum and Watling – was so good to watch!
  • Seeing Kane Williamson bat twice in one day … is that a highlight or a low-light?  Heh heh
  • NZ being only one wicket down at stumps on day 3, 134 runs behind England’s first innings score with the prospect of tired-out English bowlers and a 30-over old ball to face in the morning!  Go Kiwis!!!
Peter Fulton plays another strong stroke on his way to 41* overnight

Peter Fulton plays another strong stroke on his way to 41* overnight

I think my lips are sunburned, though *sad face*

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My Test cricket holiday … continued!

Day two of my test cricket holiday and it started back at the Basin Reserve again, at an early hour to ensure ease of access to the ground and seating selections!

Today’s highlights included:

  • Being the first in line for when the gates were opened at 9am!  A bonus highlight was one of the Ticketek crew coming round to inform us that “the gates would be opening shortly at 9, and they were just waiting … for the gates to open!”  It was good he was able to chuckle along with the rest of the English supporters (and myself!) in the queue at his unintentional gag!
  • Chatting with an English supporter from London while waiting in said queue, who is in the middle of five weeks off work to be here for the tour, about such things as favourite places he’s been on tour so far in New Zealand, Dunedin students, and the difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom!
  • Saying hello to my new BFF, Peter, from Cricket Wellington 🙂
  • Chatting casually while watching the team warm-ups with visitors from England, including one gentleman who is a cricket umpire back in his home country who was diligently doing his homework while on tour (reading the laws and rules of cricket again!  He said he reads it before each season/tour and has read through it about 16 or 17 times already!)
  • Getting a prime view of the English team going through their warm-up drills …
The English play Statues!

The English play Statues!

  • The DJ for the Basin Reserve thinking he was in Dunedin and informing us (at 9.35) that play would be starting in approximately 25 minutes!  And then at 9.55, starting to play the regular “New Zealand” theme song but stopping it before too much harm was done (nice fade-out too, by the way 😉 ) 
  • Trent Boult getting the wicket of Jonathan Trott of his first delivery of the morning was a pretty fantastic, and important highlight!
  • Figuring out how to use my own cellphone and adjusting the brightness setting (so that I could see it more clearly in the bright Wellington sun!)
  • Applauding everytime a New Zealand fielder saved us from another rendition of “4 More!”  (On the bright side, hopefully we shouldn’t hear that all day tomorrow … )
  • Feeling for Brendon McCullum has he had to take evasive action from the ball during Bruce Martin’s overs …
... Brendon showing off his dancing skills!

… Brendon showing off his dancing skills!

  • Neil Wagner pulling off a stunner of a catch to dismiss Matt Prior!
  • Bowling England out for the second time in the test series was pretty fantastic!
  • Getting my twitter wish from the start of play fulfilled 🙂
Tweeted at 10.25am this morning!

Tweeted at 10.25am this morning!

  • Taking bets with my cricket-watching friend on when the empty bottle would fall from the full rubbish bin the event staff member was taking to be emptied … okay, so it had been a long day – ha ha!
  • And the best highlight of today … getting to see Kane Stuart Williamson batting, on his favourite ground!  🙂
More of the same on day three, please Nossy!

More of the same on day three, please Nossy!

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My test cricket holiday!

It’s March in New Zealand, and that means … a test cricket tour!
And this year’s tour is by the highly-ranked and rated England team!
I think I had decided pretty soon after the tour schedule for the summer was announced, that I would be attending the Basin Reserve test match, no matter what it took (took about 30 seconds, if I’m honest – heh heh!) There’s just something about taking on the English in one of the best test cricket grounds in the country that is so much more worthwhile seeing “live” and not on a TV screen!

The Basin Reserve looking amazing, in readiness for the first day's play

The Basin Reserve looking amazing, in readiness for the first day’s play

High (and low!) lights from Day One action:

– Getting to the ground half an hour before the gates were scheduled to open and being fourth in the queue that was already forming … to discover, at 9.00 when the gates were scheduled to open, that the ticketing people hadn’t arrived in time and they couldn’t let us through, so we had to run around to the other side of the Basin Reserve to get in at the gates there; needless to say, we weren’t front of the queue when we got there 😦 (Definitely a low light!)

– I was actually quite happy when Brendon McCullum won the toss for New Zealand and decided to bowl first (especially after hearing that Alistair Cook was considering this same option himself, had he won the toss!). There’s nothing better than the first morning of a test match and your team walking out, together onto the field! And they’re definitely playing as a “together” team these days too, which is also a highlight for me as a loyal fan!

– Heckling the English supporters as they were draping their flags around the fence line before the start of play, was also fun – he he! But I did actually help one of them with his flag-raising, so I’m not all bad, really …

– New Zealand fielding 12 players throughout the day was also a fun point! Okay, so Mr Duck wasn’t quite as useful as first hoped, given that he kept running away when the ball was hit in his direction instead of throwing it back to BJ Watling at the stumps – ha ha! But it certainly livened up the day’s proceedings, especially when TV and radio commentators joined in on the fun 🙂 (Follow him and his story at @NewZealandDuck on twitter!)

New Zealand Duck fielding at backward point

New Zealand Duck fielding at backward point

– I’m definitely over the whole “4 More” song that the Barmy Army regale us with every time one of their batsmen hit a boundary scoring shot!  Heh heh – in fact, it’s still stuck in my head – grrrr!  I just hope the New Zealand bowlers can rest up well tonight so that they can come out firing tomorrow morning, take 8 more English wickets, and we won’t hear the song again in this match – hehe!

– The woman at the merchandise caravan remembering me from the test match against South Africa LAST March was a nice way to end my day at the Basin Reserve 🙂

– My last highlight was my coupon parking ticket STILL being attached to my motor scooter when I got back to it after the day’s play … and anyone of you who owns a motorcycle or scooter know exactly what I mean!  There’s literally not really anywhere you can secure a parking coupon so I was most pleased to find it still visible 🙂  (Always better to be safe, than sorry, and have your bike towed, you know!)

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