Thursday, April 2, 2009

Garth George's Indian summer

Garth George has penned a whimsical piece in today's Herald, which reminds us why we love test match cricket. Under the heading "Howzat? Five days in sporting paradise" he writes:

There are few things more enjoyable and relaxing than watching test cricket - ball by ball, at the ground. And that's what I've been doing for the past five days.

I was lucky. My wife and I had planned to attend the first New Zealand-India test at Hamilton a couple of weeks ago, but circumstances conspired to make that impossible.

So we decided to go to the second test at Napier instead and while McLean Park doesn't have the appeal of Hamilton's lovely Seddon Park - a truly cricket-on-the-village-green ambience - Napier is a much nicer place to spend a week.

Hamilton is a place you bypass if you can, drive through if you have to, and stay in if you must. Seaside Napier, on the other hand, is one of New Zealand's more pleasant places to be.

Maybe the City Fathers of Hamilton won't take too kindly to George's view, but he's dead right - Napier is a wonderful place to stay, and when the new stand at McLean Park is completed, Napier will have a first class sports stadium to go with its many other facilities.

But back to the cricket - George reflects that it's not just the on-field action that matters:

My thanks go again to those veteran radio commentators Bryan Waddell and Peter Sharp, who, among others over the years, have taught this latecomer to cricket most of what he needs to know to follow the complexities of the game.

Such as the difference between slips and gullies, silly mid off and mid on, deep fine leg and mid-wicket; cover drives, straight drives, cut shots and pull shots and so on and so forth.

Every time I attend a test match I have my pocket radio plugged into my ear, my binoculars glued to the action, and every time I learn more of the intricacies that lend such fascination to the great game of test cricket.

In those quiet times which are part of any test match, the folk on the bank and in the stands hold as much interest as what's going on in the middle.

And among any day's highlights is the colourful activity of the young and not so young on the field during lunch breaks, including at Napier a uniformed constable bowling to a bunch of kids, and later keeping wicket for them - using his policeman's hat instead of gloves.

It seems a shame that so few people bother to attend cricket tests these days. I suppose it is just another example of the decreasing attention span of the populace in general in these days of instant this and instant that.

George is right - test cricket is essentially a game for the purist. And we are envious. Much as we had hoped to be able to get to Wellington tomorrow for day one of the third and final test match at Wellington tomorrow, that looks unlikely, although Monday is a possibility if the match is interestingly poised.


Leg Break said...

Rain forecast for Monday at this stage, although that can well change.

I’ll be there by 10:30 tomorrow; grabbing that prime spot on the bank at the Government House end.

Will spend the afternoon doing various circuits of the ground. One of the many great things about NZ’s première cricket ground is that it is so easy to watch some of each day’s play from all 360 degree spots.

Inventory2 said...

Are you still doing radio interviews LB? Sorry I won't be there.

Leg Break said...

No, radio interviews would’ve been too tricky and meant I’d have had to have taken equipment into the ground.

And interviews of Indian fans wouldn’t translate as well to the radio as TV shots of them with their mobile whiteboards do.

pdm said...

If you get the good weather we had in Napier it will be a good 5 days at the Basin. However, I note a sceptic in todays DomPost suggests there will not be a full days play on any of the 5 days. Time will tell I guess.

The Indian fans are sometimes as good at entertaining as the players. On Sunday I took my 4 year old grandson to the first session. There was a group of Indian supporters 2 or 3 yards away from us. One guy did not shut up from when play started. He called out `good morning Daniel' to Vettori, encourged the NZ bowlers and cheered every run India scored.

There was another group a bit further away thankfully - as they had drums. It was all good entertainment and I guess they will be even more evident in Wellington.

Enjoy - LB. Perhaps you culd have a whiteboard saying you are LB. lol.


pdm said...

Oops - don't know where the basin at the bottom came from. Must have been my 5 mth old grandaughter helping scroll down.