When the most contentious issue among New Zealand cricket fans is the ins and outs of the follow-on strategy, you know it wasn’t your usual summer. Most people struggled to remember a better one. My best bits:
28,000 people making noise at Eden Park in that tied third one dayer v India was quite something. It was vibrant and loud and really neat to be part of, it was a wonderful cricket match, obviously, but felt like a very Auckland occasion. More please.
When people started swan-diving themselves over 1.2 metre high advertising hoardings or launching themselves face-first down banks that day in Queenstown, you knew this was going to be a winner. By the end of the summer, everyone had a favourite Tui Catch A Million near miss, whether it was the guy in Wellington snaked by his seat mate, the guy in the suit (whose catch was probably the best of all) or the bald guy who got smacked in the head with the ball at Eden Park and appeared delighted about it. And we actually got two winners, the second of which was immediately surrounded by a good-hearted mosh pit. It made the crowd part of the game, and it was fantastic.
I enjoyed visiting Whangarei for the NZ XI v India match, it is a fab ground, with a little Lord’s replica for a pavilion. Make a trip.
The emphasis on recognising and preserving team traditions like capping ceremonies for current and historic caps (and the return of the cable knit) is something I’m right on board with.
Seeing the 92 World Cup team saunter around the boundary to the delight of the crowd was a great moment, considering everyone at home and on the park was blubbering last time they wandered around a boundary.
The Test series win over India was special. Everyone knows what happened at Eden Park last year, and this year went to the wire again, but we bloody nailed it, in the kind of thrilling end to a Test that you watch through your fingers. At the Basin I tweeted after day three, when Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling’s partnership was only 158 of the 352 they went on to score, that it was one of the most satisfying day’s play I’d seen. Yes, I totally spoke too soon on that. Seeing everyone streaming in on that grey Tuesday morning, all hoping to be part of a bit of history and willing the skipper toward the big milestone was lump in the throat material and something I’ll be very proud to tell the kids about. Monumental.
On the field, where do you start? Ross Taylor’s batting all summer. Brendon McCullum’s double then triple tons. The spectacular (one, two, three) catches. The relentless, crushing batting blueprint we rolled out against India that saw us score 300 or thereabouts in five successive matches, that India had no answer for. Corey Anderson’s whirlwind in Queenstown. The limo ride. Our bowling attack with great depth, for Tests and one dayers. Happy days.
NZ Cricket Museum book sale: two thumbs up.