Monday, 2 December 2013

Test cricket in our own backyard

And so we find ourselves on the eve of another International Test series on our patch. In our own backyard. In our own timezone for goodness sake! The beauty of the home series is not to be underestimated. Anytime you can watch proper cricket in daylight hours is a good time.
We are welcoming West Indies into our backyard for a bit of a hit around. We went to their backyard last July, now they are coming to us in December. Starting off in Dunedin.
Cue the sniggers from people in the North Island. Dunedin in December? They'll freeze. Great tactics. Soften them up for us. True, a couple of the Windies players are already suffering with head colds 'due to the change in weather conditions'.

I've been thinking about the contrast between this series and the 'other' Test series going on just across the ditch in Australia right now. I am predicting that ours will be a much more polite affair. These two teams are the little guys in the big playground. The two smallest countries playing cricket at this level. They probably need to play each other right about now. I don't imagine we'll see the villains that we saw at the Gabba. I expect both sides will be pretty fired up, but I can also imagine that Brendon and the boys would have a Speights with Darren and his boys at the end of the game.
Another contrast with our cousins across the water is the media attention. There has been no criticism in the Press, no talk of phantoms and un named opponents. It really does feel like we've welcomed them into our backyard for a friendly hit around. Albeit with the warm jerseys on.

The big news locally for this test is the return of Aaron Redmond. What a wonderful story for all the First Class cricketers up and down New Zealand plugging away scoring runs, hoping they'll get noticed by the selectors. It's five years since Redmond last played for NZ, and he has been a consistently reliable batsman for Otago ever since.

Today is Otago's day really. It's their home ground and they have some of their favourite sons donning the whites and the fern at University Oval. There's Redmond, joined by the indomitable Neil Wagner, Hamish Rutherford, and Captain Courageous himself- Brendon McCullum.
And even better, the sun is out in Dunedin today. It might not be quite so tough for those Calypso Cricketers after all.

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