Pitch in to local attractions, England urged

By Abi Thomas

Fuelled by lamb-on-a-spit for dinner last night, the England T20 squad will be back at Cobham Oval today for their second training session open to the public.

The squad were formally welcomed to Whangarei yesterday by Northland Cricket chairman Greg Guy and Whangarei Mayor Morris Cutforth.

But while the squad will be concentrating on Monday and Wednesday's tour warm-up games against the NZ XI selection, they are well-placed for a few Northland distractions.

An offer has been extended to team members to get out fishing on Whangarei harbour, they will have the run of the Whangarei Golf Club, and a visit to former Northland cricketer Murray Childs' farm could be on the cards.

At yesterday's welcome, Guy told the playing squad and management that as Northland was a provincial association, it was an honour to have the England squad in town.

"We know that the weather forecast is a bit dodgy, but I'm sure that, as cricketing royalty, the gods will smile on you regardless," Guy said.

From the Cobham Oval outfield, Cutforth gestured to Parihaka and told the squad that, if they got to the top, they would be greeted with the best view over the city of Whangarei.

He encouraged them to enjoy their time in town and make the most of what was on offer, and enjoy Northland's hospitality.

"If you can get out to a beach, climb a mountain, do a walk, please do."

The team were likely to have a lot of crowd support from local England fans, with the lively "Barmy Army" sure to be vocal from the banks of Cobham Oval.

Despite chilly temperatures in the UK at the moment, most of the English squad have acclimatised to warmer weather, having travelled to New Zealand straight from their tour of India.

The T20 series on the sub-continent was drawn 1-all, India won the one-day series 3-2, and England won the four-match test series 2-1.

The English T20 side will be captained by Stuart Broad, who is making his return to international cricket after being sidelined since November after a heel injury and, also, poor weather prevented him from joining the ODI squad in India.

Former Black Caps captain Ross Taylor is making his international return for the NZ XI, which will be captained by Canterbury's Andrew Ellis, who has just been named in the Black Caps' T20 and ODI squads for the England tour.

The first Black Caps T20 match is at Eden Park on Saturday.

Watch the England side train at Cobham Oval today from 10am-1pm and tomorrow from 2-5pm, before the matches on Monday at 5pm and Wednesday at 2pm.

- Northern Advocate

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