Anyone who visits here regularly will know that cricket is our first and most enduring sporting love. It's fair to say that we are cricket tragics.
And we love test cricket above all other forms of the game. It is the ultimate contest between bat and ball, and we can watch it for hours; much to She Who Must Be Obeyed's incredulity. So it's fair to say that we are excited by the prospect of a test match between England and New Zealand starting in Dunedin today.
Tours by England are special, not just because the English invented the game. The Barmy Army has flocked in for the test series (they are purists and cricket tragics too, just like us!), and there are suggestions that the Full House signs will be out in Dunedin today. At a true cricket ground such as the University Oval, the atmosphere will be wonderful; as long as the weather plays ball.
The New Zealand batsmen must perform in this series. The openers are a worry, but in McCullum, Taylor, Williamson and Brownlee New Zealand has a very competent middle order, whilst BJ Watling will bat at #7 and brings form from South Africa and the warm-up match in Queenstown. In that game, he scored 155 runs in the two innings, without being dismissed.
Doug Bracewell's infamous cut foot clears the way for Neil Wagner to play his first test in New Zealand on his adopted home ground. Tim Southee and Trent Boult join him to provide an encouraging seam attack. The dilemma for McCullum and Mike Hesson is the fourth bowler; do they pick Ian Butler as a fourth seamer, or with the pitch looking a little drier than the typical Dunedin deck, do they opt for left-arm spinner Bruce Martin to make a test debut? We'll know in just over an hour.
England is a seasoned outfit. Alastair Cook is in a rich vein of form, both as a batsman and captain. Trott and Pietersen failed in Queenstown, but both are class batsmen. And Anderson, Broad and Finn are almost as good a bowling team as the South Africans, whilst Swann is one of the world's best spinners. The English will take a lot of beating.
The New Zealand test side is in a quest for credibility after the disastrous test series in South Africa. We have high hopes of an excellent and competitive test series, and with the start less than 90 minutes away as we type this, we're thoroughly looking forward to the first ball being bowled.
Bring it on!
UPDATE: New Zealand wins the toss, and Brendon McCullum sends England in. Bruce Martin makes his test debut at the age of 32. And there's a blow for England with Graeme Swann out with an elbow injury; too much golf maybe? Monty Panesar come in to the England side.
UPDATE #2: Play has been delayed by bad light, and then rain. And England has lost Graeme Swann for the entire series; he's off to the USA for surgery on his injured elbow; with back-to-back Ashes series on the horizon, it's hardly surprising that that's where his focus is.