Monday, 28 April 2008

Tuesday 25th March

Great Day For Cricket
... and what a cracking place to watch the greatest game on earth (or is that Rugbeh Leaguh Stevo?). The atmosphere in the ground is fantastic, a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen. No, seriously, it's so much more pleasurable watching England play abroad because foreign authorities have a much less draconian approach to policing the spectators. We were able to walk all around the grounds, sit in any seat, and even play on the pitch at lunch. It was a joy to be there. The ground was probably only a half-full at best and most of those were England fans. The security people were respectful and genuinely wanted us to have a fun time. There was no rowdiness and no problems with fans what-so-ever despite beer being freely available all day every day.

The Barmy Army
... despite appearances don't go mental for the beers, they pace themselves, starting slowly and accelerating to a glorious finale rather like a Neil Fairbrother innings. The fans were here to enjoy the game, not to be stupid, the best fans in the world without a doubt. Everyone I met in the city were thankful for The Army's presence (nd it has to be said there are equally as many if not more non-Army fans that should also get credit) as it was helping to revitalise what was a dying game here in New Zealand.

Shoulda Brought The Kids
It was also a refreshing change to be able to get a beer in 2 minutes rather than 2 hours as is the case at certain English test match venues, like the one in Leeds that shall remain nameless. On the pitch England didn't declare (a surprise to me) and instead batted on for another 30 minutes allowing just enough time for Straussy to miss out on his double-tonne. The cricketing gods had provided us with gorgeous weather yet again, perfect for cricket and so inbetween Bumble Spotting I tuned into the not unbiased Kiwi cricket commentary (you'd think they were winning with the way they described the action, it took Aggers to redress the balance). Engaged in some sunbathing and the odd Sidebottom chant (to the tune of Robin Hood Riding thru the glen (Siders plays for Nottingham)):
Sidebottom, Sidebottom, swings it thru the air
Sidebottom, Sidebottom with his curly hair
He bats at eight or nine
His hat-trick was sublime
Sidebottom, Sidebottom, Sidebottom.

Jimmy A was unlucky today, (I gave him a fair bit of verbal encouragement given he's a Lanky Lanky) repeatedly getting Matthew Bell in all sorts of trouble but to no avail. The Kiwi commentators said Bell was looking good, rubbish, he looked as shaky as a morning after alky with Parkinsons during an earthquake.

Vettori Copped a fair bit of chanting and it's only several weeks later an significant consultation with Gerry the pub landlord that I've found out what The Army were singing each time Vettori went anywhere near the ball:
(To the tune of 'Oh My Darling Clementine')
Dan Vettori, Dan Vettori
He's Harry Potter in disguise
We're gonna take his glasses
And poke him in the eyes

Today was all about Stephen Fleming
I was lucky enough to see him get a guard of honour (well, actually I missed that bit as the lad at the fish and chip shop pulled out all the stops and deep fried me a square of lasagne which was both a surprise to me and also made me miss a few balls after lunch) by the England team as he came out to bat and a fantastic standing ovation from every single fan in the ground when he was dismissed after securing a test average of over 40 run per innings. This is the man who has been the rock in the Black Caps side for the best part of two decades and the best international captain I can remember seeing play live. A privilege to have been present. After the cricket I stayed @ Wally's Backpackers but only after sampling a couple of quiet ones with 'The Army' at Rosie O Grady's.

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