Monday – always hard graft

Please remember these blogs are written contemporaneously with the day’s play – so if I write something silly which later proves to be wise and vice versa…hopefully you’ll understand

The day dawned ‘bright and breezy’ with no rain in the forecast boding well for a full day’s play.

Incidentally, Gabrielle may not be featuring in news bulletins any more but the aftermath is still being felt. Communities are struggling to recover – silt is covering roots of trees and plants and slowly strangling them, roads still damaged or washed away, several people still unaccounted for. The media may scream and shout when things first happen but move on oh so quickly!

By lunch NZ have reached 325/5 – a lead of 99 with 50s from Mitchell and Williamson – the latter becoming NZ’s highest run scorer in tests. This is true hard graft test cricket. No quarter asked nor being given!

The views from around the ground are varied today as at sometimes you need warmth, other times cooling and at other times, shelter from the breeze. The banks look attractive as place to watch from but require so much strength to stop you rolling down, or deck chairs planted into the side. An alternative is to lay flat to spread the weight but then you have to crane your neck to watch.

The locals have worked it out to a tee! They arrive armed with an armful of folding chairs none of which are searched even though they’re large enough to conceal any number of weapons and devices. Water in opened bottles on the other hand has to be poured away! Priorities?

Meanwhile, Williamson ploughs on, a century beckons as does 400 and a lead approaching 200 with tea half an hour away. Any result is possible from here!

And so it came to pass – 423/5 at tea. A nominal 43 overs today and 90 tomorrow mean there’s plenty of life in this match yet. England need to re-assert their authority before the close of play although the pitch is getting flatter and flatter (another fans on the outfield at lunch confirmed this) so any target is probably within their range.

As befits a Monday, it’s hard work out there for both sides – the pitch getting better for batting, the bowlers straining and (it has to be said) not a lot of initiative or trying something different from time to time.

No side nowadays does ‘what the opposition least expects’ – plans are religiously stuck too, tried and tested methods work but then – as in most things – something completely unexpected and unplanned can bring the best results. So, give it a go! You never know!

Immediately after tea there’s no sign of Anna Doorsbred for a good 20 minutes or so…perhaps she’s a bit fatigued given her collective years? 😜

And lo! As I write Brook is asked to turn his arm over! Perhaps they should ask me to advise? 😜😜

And in his second over obliges – Williamson feathering an edge to Foakes and minutes later Bracewell is run out in the most casual of manners. So at drinks in the final session NZ are 478/7. Williamson not happy to go for 132 but a sublime knock nonetheless.

NZ collapse in a casual manner to 483ao with Blundell the last to go for 90; Leach taking 5 but Anna was off form taking 1 for 156. England need 258 to win with a day (90) and a nominal 16 overs today. Any result is possible.

England end on 48/1. Crawley scraped 24 together but surely a long spell in county cricket beckons? Hard graft again tomorrow but at least it’s not Monday

And a selection of photos to give a flavour of the day…

Robinson created a few early problems
Classic shots from Williamson
Defence too!
Dangerous places!
And so they continue…
Blundell too!
Brook’s first ball
And celebrating his first Test wicket!

Grit and grind

Another early start to catch up on the overs but the pace at which this game is progressing it’s probably not a worry. The day dawns misty and cool with occasional sunny spells. The overnight rain has passed and whilst the grassy banks are ‘moist’ we start on time.

Just missed the catch!

Today’s first period is spent at the top of a bank beside the sightscreen. A great view but into a strong and cold breeze so every layer needed and an excursion for my alpaca headwear.

Strong legs are required to keep your balance as the slope is so steep and after an hour or so, one can take no more. The locals come prepared with blankets, deck chairs and all kinds of impedimenta for the day.

The early action sees a couple of sharp catches not quite carrying – Crawley and Stokes. But the bowling of Leach and to a degree Broad makes life free and easy for Southee and Blundell. The former powering to 73 (apparently he’s NZs top run scorer without a century). Robinson looks the real deal. He, for me, was the pick of the bowlers but unlucky – he will bowl worse but have better figures!

NZ add 62 in very quick time but succumb in sight of the follow on requirement for 209 – 226 short in total! This is a lot better than the early stages foretold; so batting for two days and two and a half sessions or setting England a total that they can’t chase down are the options. And we’ve seen what England can chase in recent times. Nothing is beyond the collective belief in this team; weather is an ally for NZ but the entrails don’t look good!

Lunch arrives at 40/0 but not without its alarums and excursions – Leach in particular causing the odd headache.

What’s become clear is that we’re only seeing half of Anna Doorsbred

(see message from Anna Gram below) at a time – Robinson being preferred with the new ball, and half of Anna is first change. Seems to work.

Tea sees NZ sailing into safer waters at 128/0 – 88 in the session; Latham 72 and Conway 53. True grit and grind of test cricket. Having said that, the wind and today’s sun have/are drying out this pitch so it’s easier for batting and a different colour from what greeted us on Friday.

Both openers fall with 40 minutes of tea (to spin) so a bit of rebuilding is needed. But plenty of time to go! But by the end…202/3. Tomorrow should be interesting!

A day when pictures speak louder than words!

Message from Anna Gram – I’ll leave it to you to work out who Anna Doorsbred are

ICC robo-umpire prototype needs the occasional adjustment 😜
Bit of playing and missing!
Crawley just fails…
It’s not easy out there when it’s overcast!
Robinson in full flow
Crawley gets something right!
How did that miss?
Where did that go?
A study in concentration!

Frozen – the sequel

It’s always good to experience all areas of a cricket ground and whilst most England followers tend to do as they are told, I find it fascinating to go wandering.

And so it was today. The NZ grounds have their walkways close to the boundary edge so, unless you strategically position yourself, your view is constantly interrupted by spectators wandering around. But you are among ‘locals’!

The other need is to find somewhere warm especially at this ground. I’ve been frozen at cricket grounds many a time but probably not quite like this. Shirt, pullover, hoodie and jacket with hood are just about able to keep me warm. What’s incongruous is that a few feet away sunblock is being offered and applied as clearly those spectators know something I don’t!

But to the cricket itself…

An early start to catch up on the overs lost sees England lose four wickets quickly – Brook trying to rush things, Foakes just falling down for a duck, Stokes not playing for his average, and an exhibition from Broad in time wasting. I don’t pay good money to watch him stand around changing his mind every two minutes!

There’s a bit of spice in this pitch early on and it certainly livens things up.

Cricket through the monument in the ground

The topography of the ground is interesting- plenty of gaps for keen breezes, slopes and mounds to help catch the sun and warm things up. A nice gap and an off drive facing from the Vance end and that’s the last you see of the ball as it lands in a truck, city-bound!

Even as Foakes gets up from being flat on his face, his foot is not over the line!

And in keeping with the best grounds around, it has a interesting slope from the RA Vance End towards fine leg!

How you can have ends in a roundabout is another of life’s mysteries to solve!

435/8 declared as soon as Root reaches 153no. Tricky 30 minutes before lunch for NZ but let’s see. Sun keeps breaking through and with keen ‘breeze’ any early moisture should go but we can’t judge the quality of a pitch until both sides have batted.

Some majestic strokes again today!

And so it proved – 12/2 at lunch with Williamson and Conway back already. Pope took Conway’s wicket although the scorecard shows c Foakes b Anderson. Pope was only one to appeal fielding at short point; Stokes needed a lot of persuasion to review but he did and was rewarded. At the moment he can do no wrong but as sure as night follows day, one day…

‘Well done Olly, no one else heard anything’!
Foakes doing a bit better falling down!

The weather is strange to say the least – am being offered sun screen which those in front are taking whilst I sit three rows back, shirt, pullover and jacket warding off the stuff ‘breeze’ 🤔

Lunch is punctuated by a rap artist performance – about as far as you can get from the marching bands at Lord’s! And then followed by a fancy dress competition between several characters including nuns, traffic cones and chickens. Absolutely bonkers!

The afternoon goes from bad to worse for NZ with a steady procession of wickets and no real batting to speak of; at 96/6 with only Nichols and Latham reaching 30. Wickets shared between Anderson and Leach but Robinson has kept things very quiet 6-0 off eight overs.

There’s only one way this match is going and it’s only a matter of time – and how much spare we shall all have!

The shortened session after tea progressed as well as the previous – NZ ended on 138/7 as rain stopped play with over 90 minutes play remaining (I say minutes because overs are irrelevant when it comes to over rates – the day was on course for 10 overs to be lost!).

Hopefully tomorrow will be warmer and drier; another cold Wellington day is not something to look forward to!


Brook – no argument!

Today is the first day of the second test of this short series and the first time at the Basin Reserve in Wellington for some time. The ground forms the centre of a roundabout and is, apparently, an extinct volcano.

Brook – take a closer look!
Basin Reserve

So, while some will go round and round in circles, others will bring bangs and explosions over the next five days.

Talking of going round and round, several tour groups have congregated in the hotel. The melee at breakfast shows what life could be like in a compos mentis care home – no one under 50, a number still high on Sanatogen and rudeness in abundance! The joys to look forward to!

NZ started with a bang taking three for 21 in no time – Crawley (why?), Pope and Duckett back in the Chatfield Pavilion – looks like two shipping containers on top of each other; but you need to remember, everything here is built to withstand earthquakes!

101/3 at lunch (lot better than 21/3); why persevere with Crawley? Out of touch; Brook 51 no and Root 23no steady the ship after early inroads on a very green top! Root seems to be enjoying this ‘standard’ approach to the day, whilst Brook is carrying on regardless! Probably a good combination!

Crawley – first delivery of the day

237/3 tea Brook 136 Root 72; Wagner 0/81 off 12 – surely the end is nigh for Neil? A fine combination this afternoon – Root batting as he used to (as I said earlier, he’s internally conflicted by bazball) and Brook building on his fine career start (average is close to Bradmanesque) but hasn’t had the chance yet to face all attacks of all qualities! Time will tell.

And so they press on! Records falling – highest 4th wicket partnership by England v NZ (or in NZ) but also Root and Wagner both went to their hundreds off the same ball – not something you see every day and not one Wagner will relish! Immediate break for rain – short showers expected – at 315/3; and that’s it for the day.

Brook reaches his highest test score with the power to add against, what must be said, a pretty bland attack on a pitch that looks like getting flatter and flatter.

And another close look needed.
How did you take those photos I hear you ask?

These green edged photos were taken through the hole at the top of a recycling bin – had to stop walking at the bowlers end, and this was the only view of the batter I could get!

One thing Brook doesn’t do is flatter – he’s the real deal!

Root – another hundred.
Allowed on the ground at lunch
A photo of people looking at grass – surreal in the extreme!
It can be cold in Wellington when the wind blows!
The only test ground with its own folly which in turn has a bird bath? That must be a record!


Wellington – don’t give it the boot!

Todays exciting adventure sees another transfer – from Rotorua to Wellington by domestic plane service and, for once, no security checks! But that seems to be par for the course.

For some reason these are outside the parliament building – have no idea what they represent!

Wellington is famous for its wind and that greeted us plus some rain. The forecast for the test is not brilliant from a weather perspective but within a few hours here, the sun has come out to show Wellington in a better light. It’s sunsetting time here as I write.

A bit of tourism after a review of domestic issues – been the first day since London that I’ve been able to empty the case properly!

The view from the cable car – more like a tube up the side of a steep hill – is supposed to be the best in Wellington and a leisurely walk down to the City centre via some pretty impressive parks and gardens culminating in stumbling upon the Beehive.

A few splashes of colour in the Botanical Gardens

The Beehive is the national parliament building and is supposed to signify the hive of activity inside. Like some/most/all parliament (delete as appropriate) buildings more in theory than practice but as such buildings go…impressive nonetheless.

Views of the beehive!

Tomorrow – the Test – assuming no rain! 🤞

Geysers or thrills? Rotorua

Today is another ‘tourist’ day to explore the delights of Rotorua.

Renowned for its geo-thermal activity – geysers, mud pools, soft smell of sulphur etc – I had managed to see those on my last visit and had a little bit of fun on the (year round) luge.

This time, the opposite – two visits to the luge last night and today and a total of 10 ‘rides’ down the side of a mountain which has developed into a kind of private race/challenge with our TM, just to add a bit of spice – and then the geo-thermal stuff and how it worked (and works) for developing the Māori way of life and culture.

Time prevented a full geo-thermal experience but the lady in the car park showed a trail abutting the hotel and overlooking a steaming smelly pool of bubbling water.

Given that this has been here for thousands of years, producing heat and steam non-stop makes you think of the massive powers under our feet; and tragically all too evident in many places across the globe.

The ‘fun’ stuff here is really fun – and yes children I will act my age. The luge is just one option – swings (not the typical garden type but industrial sizes where you can terrify yourself to death and even youngish children allowed but I reckon could be traumatised for life 😜), zip wires, walkways etc.

I recommend searching the web for videos of the Rotorua luge and you’ll gain an impression of the fun you can have! 🤣

There’s so much other stuff offering you the chance to scare yourself and others witless! And that’s the polite word!

Not quite as mad as Queenstown but close (and yes, dear reader, I should be there next week!). So if the geo-thermal stuff doesn’t get you, the fun stuff will.

The good news is that this NZ organisation is building luges in Sheffield and Swansea ready to open next year!

Definitely worth another visit and since there’s so much fun today…very few photos!



Today’s tourist ‘stuff’ is a transfer from Tarunga to Rotorua via a tour of ‘Hobbiton’ – the film set cum tourist attraction from the Hobbit/Lord of Rings franchise.

I must admit that I’ve never Tolkeined nor seen any of the films so I have only what others have told me to go on – hairy feet seem to be a common thread!

So it’s a film set, tourist attraction and gardens all in one in the middle of a working farm. A wide range of photos to enjoy. Good fun nonetheless!

All I’d say – but then, dear reader, you probably have a view of my world – is check the numbers in each tour party (at least three per hour) at NZD90 each…and do the math! Even 1% off the top for the film director is not to be sneezed at !😜

My only concern was when the guide started talking about ‘real hobbits’ – I think she may be too closely involved! 😜

Just thought we were being watched?
There’s a group ‘visiting’ every 20 minutes – you can do the math!
And a bit of magic of my own!

The ascent of Mt Manganui 2

Tourist stuff today and an attempt to climb Mt Manganui for the second time (first successful attempt made in 2019).

The route has been changed significantly so unless you have mountain goat-like qualities, the ascent is extremely strenuous! The past choice of ‘easy’ and ‘steep’ routes have been replaced with two ‘steep’ routes and two ‘steep and challenging’ routes; so in the heat of the day, took the option to walk round the Mount and take a few photos…just spectacular!


Gold from Anderson!

The really BIG news is that I was reunited with my luggage after 8 days apart – not really an emotional reunion, but pleasant nonetheless, especially after wearing the same trainers, the same trousers, the same… (you get the drift) for that long!

There’s nothing really anything remarkable about today’s play – early wickets, a little bit of resistance towards the end but the damage had already been done. The Kiwis gave the impression that they didn’t want to be there and after 100 minutes they were granted their wish.

Other media outlets will offer their own views on the match but all I’ll say is that the penultimate Anderson over was his best of the match – fast, high pitched bowling against a genuine #11. Not necessarily the purest in terms of fast bowling but from a photographer’s perspective – pure gold. Here’s what I mean!

Keep your eye on the ball? But don’t turn you back (no contact with the head)

And whilst dear reader you may think that I’ve been a bit harsh on Broad – one can, occasionally, get a decent photo from his bowling!

So a few snaps of the short day at the Test. Move on to Wellington via Rotorua and, dear reader, some tourist ‘stuff’ to follow this week! Probably including ‘the Ascent of Mount Manganui 2’

In the interim enjoy these…(short stuff from Anderson)!

This time ‘I’m going to look in another direction?’
Wagner handles this from Anderson well
The self-anointed ‘hawk’ in full flight
Jimmy still not looking where he’s bowling (Benaud famously said ‘he’d never be a bowler if he doesn’t look to see where the ball’s going!)
And again!
Multi-coloured salt mountain
Mount Manganui

Luggage and dressing up news!

Before we get to the cricket I have news!

The anguish of getting out…

My luggage has been spending a few days resting and enjoying the fresh air in Auckland and was getting fed up/missing me and would be joining me in Tauranga in the next 24/36 hours.

On the down side – with a lack of any contact – I’d spent another £100 or so this morning on more clothes! Decision to be made before I move on is what to donate to local charities. An investment in AirTags seems sensible.

Seen in downtown Tauranga – spent ages looking for it!

Meanwhile it’s dress up day here and I can’t join in! ☹️

And on the pitch – Broad goes quickly, Pope follows a short while later. Root and Brook each go for very fast 50s which means that just after break one, England are 242/6 – lead of 261…probably another 100 needed before inserting NZ under lights later for the lottery.

The self-proclaimed hawk!
Just checking that I’m really out!
Root – imperious at times

Going back to Root for a moment; it’s clear from his approach that he’s struggling psychologically with this ‘free’ approach. Richie used to say the game’s in the mind and so it is. Joe wants to be part of the new gang but he’s also clinging to the comfy blanket of the ‘old ways’. He wants to please his old self but also be part of the new kids on the street.

What, dear reader, do you think?

Salt mountain still growing!

The second session ends with England 348/9 – lead of 367. In overall terms the match pace is fast with 7 sessions to go. Foakes builds a fine 50; Stokes 31 tries to force the pace a bit but it’s another false shot sees him depart. One thing for sure, he doesn’t play for his average!

One aspect of the match I need to stress is that the fielders don’t always seem to be able to track the ball (remember it’s orange/pick).

It’s also worth noting that the ground is crammers – the open banks are heaving and there’s not another space for another deck chair or blanket!

Even traffic cones need feeding!

The downside is that about 1/3rd of the crowd are not that interested in the match and even just strolling around is mayhem.

They plod on after tea for 20 minutes extending the lead to 393 before Leach fell at the last. Root 57 was the top score but the overall team effort was good.

Shades of Hobart for Robinson
View from city end!

NZ stuck to their task as well as they could but I suspect we’ve seen the end of Wagner (unless there’s other injuries) as he went for over 100 runs in just 12 overs. He didn’t expect that when he got up today!

As phlegmatic as ever!

Two hours or 30 overs of the evening lottery suggests that England have got the timing about right. Early breakthroughs (19/3 by the 8th over) suggest an end sooner rather than later.

As more fall, it’s clear that a) the pink ball moves more under lights, b) even more under cloud and c) I’m not convinced bats are picking up the line that easily and they rarely play this type of test; hardly a fair contest?

Whilst day/night tests as a concept should work, the lottery aspect is not encouraging nor is the fact that for it to work, the transport infrastructure needs to sufficiently efficient and effective to move large numbers of people competently at night.

The day closes with NZ on 61/5 – excellent bowling by Broad only outshone by the world class time wasting by NZ towards the end. Broad de facto world leader in time wasting passed on his compliments to NZ! Another 7 overs lost today – but no one cares, so why count?

Enough of this Meldrew approach, here’s a few of the dressing up I came across today.


Never like this at the BBC!