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March 15, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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The reverse sweep

The Reverse Sweep

The Black Caps have once again proven themselves as more than able challengers of Australia in the shorter form(s) of the game. It is in the test arena, however, that our real problems arise. While the Black Caps seem to have something over the Aussies in the 50-over scene—especially at home—the seemingly terminal frailty of the top order cannot be overcome in the longest version of the game.

New Zealand has won just 68 out of 357 test matches, including only seven of 48 versus Australia. Recent history is perhaps even more concerning, with the Black Caps having lost nine and drawn four of the 13 matches played against the baggy greens since 2000, and not having tasted victory since 1993—that’s 20 matches ago! The only somewhat promising match statistic for the New Zealanders to go by is that their record at the Basin Reserve—where the two-match test series kicks off on the 19th—is much better than their overall record against the Aussies (five draws, two losses and a win).

Whether or not our Black Caps can compete with the Aussies in the tests should not be reason enough to keep the fans away, especially from the opener at the Basin—New Zealand’s premier and most iconic cricket ground. New Zealand—and Wellington in particular—has proven itself to be home to one of the more raucous fan bases in world cricket, especially when the Australians tour. The classic fan-to-player insult (feel free to use it) is “[insert two syllable name]’s a wanker”…“clap, clap, clap clap clap”. This has been demonstrated well so far this tour, with Mitchell Johnson often on the receiving end, since his unprovoked clash with Scott Styris in the first ODI.

My advice is to make the most of Wellington’s wonderful sporting atmosphere—of which the pinnacle has to be a good day at the cricket. Also, just how long our beloved Basin will remain as we know it is unknown, with plans still in action to build a flyover over the ground. The benefits of such a venture (namely traffic de-congestion) are far outweighed by the detrimental outcomes.

While the proposed flyover could save drivers up to a mere 30 seconds, both the price and effects on the Basin make it far from worthwhile. The approximately $50 million price tag will come out of the tax payer’s pocket, even though the public is strongly against the flyover’s construction. This is an exorbitant amount for a project which will not make for a significant improvement. In addition, and most importantly, the history and atmosphere of the Basin is far too precious to endanger.

Having become New Zealand’s first dedicated cricket pitch in 1866, the Basin has been home to some outstanding performances and priceless memories, as can be recalled at the on-site New Zealand Cricket Museum, which is itself regarded as “significant” by the Historic Places Trust. The Basin is in my opinion the finest sporting ground in the world, and should not be overlooked as a place close to New Zealanders’ hearts. Find all the relevant information at www.savethebasin.org.nz and sign the petition to save the Basin.

See you at the cricket!

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