I started my journey to LA sitting next to a man who was also traveling to Auckland. He had been to Berlin on business so an even longer journey than mine. We chatted a for a while, and it wasn’t long before we got on to cricket. He was telling me that his son moved to England to work and mentioned his wife said don’t fall in love with an English girl, he did and eventually they married. He stopped in London en route to LA to see his newly born grandson for the first time!
He said his wife and his three sons all loved cricket, two of his sons played to a high standard the one in England played in the Leicester league, he went on to say if decisions went their way they could have made it! Cricket is a sport that brings so many countries together, I guess you can say that about all sports, but with cricket no one loses, we just admire the brilliance of a century, a fifer or a brilliant catch, instantly Simon and I swapped business cards and hope to meet again somewhere!
I eventually arrived in a very wet and cold Auckland, not too dissimilar to when I left London, all that was being mentioned by some of the party that arrived and on the tv as well was the impending cyclone. I was hoping it would not materialise into anything significant, however it affected the eastern point of the north Island pretty much over Tauranga, and it wasn’t long before New Zealand declared a national state of emergency. Cyclone Gabrielle caused catastrophic damage, to the infrastructure and people’s homes. With incoming and outgoing flights cancelled, roads were blocked we had clients stranded from Vancouver to Brisbane, the next few days were extremely difficult trying to get them to Auckland or Tauranga in time to catch some of great cricket that was being served, eventually they all had arrived and managed to see part or most of that test with or without their luggage which took as long as 7 days to arrive.
The Bay Oval is a lovely ground with Mount Maunganui in view from parts of the ground. New Zealand won the toss and decided to field. I think England would had done the same. I was amazed the match started on time with the weather we have had! England posted 325/9 with major contributions from Duckett and the inform Brook. New Zealand replied with 306, they had major contributions from Conway and a brilliant 138 from Blundell. England once again being very positive posted 374 with most of the side contributing. The bowlers got into the New Zealand line up with Stuart Broad knocking over four of their batters in double quick time, with Anderson taking four wickets as well, New Zealand were all out for 126, England winning by 267.
We then travelled to Rotorua for two nights between matches with some taking the opportunity to visit Māori villages whilst others opted for the Skyline Gondola and Rotorua Luge to compete in leg 2 of the “Hokey Pokey Ice Cream Cup” competition which commenced when we were last in NZ. Great fun and a bit scary navigating twists and turns in a 3 wheeled toboggan/go kart hybrid especially as two of us were very competitive. We then flew to Wellington for the final test, as expected, living up to its name of windy Wellington!
The Basin Reserve was one ground missing from my list in New Zealand so I was delighted it was being played there and a lovely ground it is. New Zealand won the toss and elected to field, England posted 435 thanks largely to a brilliant 135 from Root and yet another great innings from Brook who made 186. At 24 he has been nothing short of sensational he looks extremely accomplished at the crease, playing shots you wouldn’t associate with test cricket, I’m sure he will be judged in the forthcoming ashes and the tour of India next year. If he produces that form we will all be marvelling at his ability. In his 6 matches to date averaging 98 is nothing short of brilliant. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen all his matches to date and I’m extremely excited to see what he can go on and achieve. We have a tendency to put players up on a pedestal, let’s hope he flourishes and becomes one of England’s all time greats.
Getting back to the match after being side tracked New Zealand posted 209. If it wasn’t for the bat of skipper Southee, New Zealand would have been in deep trouble as New Zealand were not where they would like to be in relation to England’s total they should have been a lot closer.
England enforced the follow on, no surprise there! This time New Zealand came to the party with several contributions but mostly a flawless 132 from Williamson who finally fell to the bowling of Brook, you couldn’t write it! and another 90 from Blundell after that partnership wickets began to tumble and New Zealand finally all out for 483. England needing 258 to win, started with partnership of 39 before Crawley once again struggling for form fell on 24, then Robinson the overnight watchman went next quickly followed by Duckett England were 59/3. Then we lost Pope and Brook due to a mix up with Root. Root and Stokes added 120 before Stokes fell and one run later Root went. Still needing 56 to win Broad joined Foakes, we know what to expect with Broady these days, and made 11 before he departed, leaving Foakes as our only batter and main hope of a win. Every run was being applauded and everyone on the edge of their seats, no one could a win happening. A game that looked done once New Zealand followed on, Foakes eventually fell leaving England perilously close to a win needing a further 7 to win. Anderson got off the mark with a four, Leach ran a single and then Anderson edged to Blundell giving the Kiwis a one run victory in a match that no one lost. Cricket was the winner, records broken, a great two match series comes to a close!
We departed Wellington in many different directions around New Zealand by car or to enjoy our super South Island tour before flying off to Singapore, Australia and USA.
Once again, a great tour which had challenges from start to finish came to a close. it’s so nice to see so many clients coming back with us, and great to make new friends.
Hope to see many of you during the summer or on the India 50 Over World Cup trip, West Indies in December, SA20 in January or the India Test Series at the end of January.
All the best