Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Munro Show- 28 November 2012

Day three of the Plunket Shield clash between Auckland and Wellington turned into something of a record breaker. By all accounts the wicket was pretty flat, with the bowlers unable to get much out of it. The runs certainly piled on, with the Aces ending up on 658/9 declared.

It wasn't looking quite so healthy on day two, when the Aces made plenty of starts, but no-one was able to carry on, and the wickets kept falling. At one stage they were 174/5, and looking quite precarious. That was until Cachopa and Munro headed out to the middle.

Cachopa batted for 6 hours to bring up his 166. I did wonder if he had read MD Crowe's piece about being able there being nothing finer than 6 hours out in the middle playing bat on ball. This was good cricket too. No smash and dash T20 styles. There was plenty of straight bat, and "showing the makers mark" Windies style. It's not a bad achievement to get your maiden first classs century with such finesse!

And as for Mr Munro, you had to be there to fully appreciate the demolition job he did on the Wellington bowling attack. His 269* came off just 252 deliveries. There were 27 4s and 14 6s. Now I know I don't get out much, but I have never seen anything like it! It wasn't irresponsible batting either, for the most part. I can remember the good old days as a kid watching Lance Cairns belligerently swinging Excalibur at the Aussies, and this did remind me of those days. And guess who was sitting in the stands watching too!

 Going into lunch, Munro was sitting on 198. After lunch, those last two runs seemed to take forever to get. There was a lot of blocking and clear shouts of NO on the singles. It looked like the entire Auckland team were holding their breath and just willing him on. He seemed very determined to not give away his wicket cheaply at this point, and rightly so. However, once he crossed the 200 line, there was a different batsman out there. The next ball was aggressively smashed onto Sandringham Road for 6, narrowly missing a delivery truck. Then the next one was dispatched into the back of the West Stand at the number one ground. Gillespie and Elliott were the bowlers given the task of ending the Munro show at this time. Despite them throwing everything they had at it, nothing seemed to work. He piled on another 69 runs in much the same fashion until Auckand declared.

Even though I didn't get to see the end of the day's play, when Munro finished up unbeaten on 269, I loved the end of the second session when they came off for lunch. All the Aces were there shaking hands to congratulate Cachopa the younger and also Munro. You really get the feeling they are there for each other, and have got each other's backs. This Auckland side are a pretty tight unit, and they look like they are going to be hard to break.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The return to Eden- the verdict.

After counting down all winter to November 10, it came around surprisingly quickly. The first day back at Eden Park's Number Two ground in four years.
Auckland Aces vs Northern Knights in a Plunket Shield match. So how did Eden Park scrub up? Was it a patch on Colin Maiden?

Well, first impressions are pretty good. It does feel like going from a village cricket green into a city oval though. Having the massive Eden Park main stadium looming over it adds to the effect. The ground staff have done a truly amazing job preparing the grass in the middle and all the surrounding areas. The little embankments are quite good, but much closer to the boundary rope than at Colin Maiden. The tree (because there is only the one) will be hotly contested once Summer is in full swing, as it provides the only natural shade.

I will try to keep my whingeing under control because it's not all bad, but here goes. There needs to be more trees on the Sandringham Road boundary. The traffic noise is really loud, and the wind whips through there.
 I've already talked about the security guards on Twitter, but they need a serious shake up. They've spent the last two days telling my kids off for running around having fun, but today they told David White- CEO of NZ Cricket-to get his foot off the boundary rope! Eden Park needs to educate its security staff with some processes relevant to Cricket. After all, this is Plunket Shield, not RWC2011!
A little signage wouldn't go amiss down at the outer oval there. Where are the toilets again? Where can I buy something to eat or to drink? I need to know I can get my hot chips and Oddfellows when I need them.

On the bright side, people have been streaming in to watch the cricket. Today the entry gate guy had counted two hundred people. That's about 198 more than we saw at Colin Maiden!

It's no wonder the good folk of Auckland are keen to see for themselves what is happening at the Plunket Shield. You can't listen to it on the radio anymore, there's no tv coverage, yet there is some superb cricket happening! We have had centuries from Joey Yovich and Bruce Martin, and plenty of exciting bowling.
The BlackCaps are all in Sri Lanka battling with the weather, yet we still have some thrilling cricket happening right here at home, in our own backyard.  Some would even say it's better cricket.

If you want my advice, get yourself down to Eden Park. Get there early so you can get a car park, and bring your own lunch. There's no guarantees you will be able to buy lunch there. Bring your camera, your autograph bat, and your picnic blanket. A merino might just come in handy too. But above all, bring the whole family, and your friends. And have a really good time!