Sunday, 4 January 2015
My days at The Basin Reserve
So how did I get to the Basin 46 years later? Well my budget inhibits me from attending major sporting events, but as an avid tweeter I was given an offer I couldn't refuse (albeit reluctantly), tickets to the 1st and 2nd days of the test. I realised my wagon had fuel to see me there and back, packed my lunches and eats, and drinks, cameras and suitable wet weather gear (yes even Wellington has a reputation) and on the road I went early Saturday morning. I arrived in Wellington at 9am and found a carpark (I had to ring the council to make sure I wouldn't get towed away) and once happy wandered the short 200 metres to the ground. On arrival I saw about 10 people already queueing so I was happy to line up.
The gates eventually opened so I wandered in and around the ground looking for a suitable vantage point for both viewing the game and to take good action photography. I settled on the embankment at the southeast corner near the sightscreen, high on the bank under a Pohutukawa tree that offered shade for most of the day. Good move, as by the time the first ball was bowled the embankment was full and my vantage point secure. The folks around me were from Hastings, Masterton and Levin and we struck up a ready banter and for most of the day swapped stats chat. All were surprised that Brendon McCullum scored his first duck since 12 August 2012!!
And the ground was not just filled with male cricket followers, a fact that floored me a bit as once again you don't get any indication from TV. There were many women, girls and children and like their male counterparts, of all ages. This girl to the left was shot soon after Brendon McCullum's wicket and the features suggest she knew full well what had happened and the implications. I was in awe of the diversity of the crowd as a whole and the level of knowledge that permeated it.
And of course there was cricket of the highest calibre. Following are a few action shots.
Williamson on the drive.
What's a Sri Lankan test match without Ball complaints.
The Neesh gets one near the helmet.
But what for me the test was about the people and the sights. There was the Sky TV cameras, the drone, the Segway running on and off the ground during breaks, listening to Bryan Waddle and Malcolm Jordan and guest commentators on my little transistor (yes you read that right, so not 21st century), and The Big Screen, such a useful piece of kit at an international.
A Pair of Cameras in a Pohutukawa Tree.
Quite hardcase this drone. It was being operated from the top of the south end toilet block, and spent some time in the air around and over the ground. At one point I saw it over by the Carrilion Memorial. On several occasions when it hovered over the Basin Pitch it was bombed from on high by jealous seagulls. And that was one aspect that surprised me this test, Henry Blofelds pets were hardly seen on the playing surface. Maybe the drone did more than first thought.
Hard job Groundstaff. Actually, if I had one gripe it goes out to all those ignorant snobs that decided to climb the barrier ropes behind the sightscreens at both ends, many hold ups until the offenders cleared the area. I see today the groundstaff had placed a rope barrier either side at the south end.
Anyway, Day two I arrived and all the shade spots were taken so I placed myself by the south end toilet block at fineleg and under the glare of a very hot sun, persevered until the heat and sun and wind got too much and I had to relent and go home feeling very tired but very happy. I didn't realise how taxing being in the sun could be (I haven't been in it for long periods since I played Pressies cricket for Foxton in 2003) so it was a whole new experience for me. I now know I need to be better prepared for a long day in the sun and wind and on grounds that make old bottoms sore as buggery the next day.
My thanks go to New Zealand and Sri Lanka for a great opportunity, to the Basin Reserve Staff for a great facility, to the cricket lovers on Twitter that I had the opportunity to meet for a short while, but good to put faces to names, and finally to twitter cricket follower @BradyMagic aka Damian Sharkey for giving me the opportunity to realise a dream and cross an item off my bucket list.
And what's a visit to Wellington without scenery.
The Basin's Embankment Crowd on Day 1.
And a Harbour shot on the way home.
And the drive up the Kapiti Coast, always a great photo opportunity.