There is something special about attending a cricket Test and watching it at the Basin Reserve is probably as good as it gets in New Zealand, Barry Guy writes.
I attended the first two days of the Test in Wellington between New Zealand and Sri Lanka as a spectator and not a reporter.
There is always plenty of anticipation leading up to a Test at the Basin Reserve and this year was no different.
Coming off a stunning series victory over Pakistan, there was a feeling that the Black Caps could do something special and for many of us we were keen to see Kane Williamson in action.
Williamson is the backbone of the lineup and he’s the most exciting batsman they have.
He draws such attention that the anticipation of this trip reminded me of the time a few mates and I made sure we were at the ground to see Brian Lara in action in the nineties.
I’d watched the Wellington Blaze play a few weeks ago and was surprised at the amount of work that still needed to be done to the surrounds as a part of a major facelift for the Basin Reserve.
But come Saturday the ground looked close to perfect, the sun was shining, the ground was green and the Pohutukawas were set to bloom.
Sure, it would have been nice to have the Museum stand occupied, but that will happen in 2020.
While I spent all of my younger days watching cricket from “the bank” I only spent a few sessions there this time.
Taking up my usual place down at third man, I was fortunate to sit not far from “chicken man” and his friends as they got off to an early start with their fun on the first day.
They’d written up a list of a dozen challenges he had to get through during the day, they included performing the chicken dance with a woman to getting an autograph from every cricketers that fielded in front of them on the boundary.
Many of them are your more nerdy type of followers, anorak wearers as we use to call them, keen followers of the game who can recall most statistics or performances off the top of their head, and I assume, use to fill out their own scoring sheets many years ago.
I sat next two two men who reminisced about many players from yesteryear and compared them to the players of today.
The ground was also filled with fathers taking their sons to the game (possibly for the first time) and having to keep them entertained while also trying to catch a few deliveries. Their mums were obviously quite happy to send them off for the day and enjoy some quiet time of their own.
The best thing about the Basin – that the kids can find their own place to play when the action in the middle gets a bit boring.
Fortunately the Basin Reserve is one of the few grounds that lets fans onto the ground at lunch time to allow fans to play their own game and also check out the wicket – I heard one person ask what they were meant to be looking at (exactly I thought).
There were also plenty of other challenges in between that I’m unable to mention.
The crowd certainly got into the antics on the bank and it resulted in the players turning to watch on a number of occassions.
There is a special breed that attends Test cricket matches, they’re a lot different to those at All Blacks matches.
I was a little surprised in the modern age that the kids were still lining up for autographs, they lined up and waited patiently for players on the boundary to sign their bats, while some even had autograph books.
In fact the crowd was superb, they applauded all good plays no matter which team is was, they clapped as Black Caps walked back to the pavilion from a batting session in the nets and generally had a buzz about them all day, while the hundred or so Sri Lankan fans added their own colour.
Sure, the buzz transfers more into a banter on the bank as the day heads into the final session, but I’d moved to sit in front of the Museum Stand by then (the Wellington sun was getting to me) and didn’t notice any abuse.
Cricket allows fans to relax, chat, eavesdrop those around them and take in the intricacies of the game.
Test cricket is still alive and well and the Basin Reserve turns it into a day to remember.