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!