Cricket: English enjoy taste of Northland hospitality

By Cameron Leslie

England's cricketers have given Northland their seal of approval after enjoying some of what the region has to offer.

The touring English managed some time away from the cricket nets and got out and about to enjoy a spot of fishing and a round of golf, thanks to a little help from locals.

Twenty20 opening batsmen Alex Hales said even though the weather didn't turn it on for his teammates, they had still enjoyed the sights so far.

"A few of the lads went to play golf yesterday [Saturday]," said Hales. "[But] the weather got the better of them and we only got through 10 holes.

"Some of the guys went out fishing as well and didn't get back until midnight, so by the sounds [of it] they had a good time. The hospitality, and the people here, has been very friendly and made our stay easy."

Northland Cricket boss Gary Bell said a bunch of England's top Twenty20 players were taken out on a charter from Marsden Cove that was organised by Warren Hay Marine, while a few made a trip to Baylys Beach to catch a wave or two.

"Two of the boys went surfing at Baylys [Beach] with Lew Hart our [Northland Cricket] caterer," said Bell. "I heard, too, that they called in to watch Lew's [Hart] son play reserve grade cricket in Dargaville."

Bell said players who didn't make it out and about put their feet up in preparation for today's match.

New Zealand XI captain Andrew Ellis said his side knew they were likely to go into the warm-up matches as underdogs, but said that was a challenge they were ready for.

"They're the cutting edge and world leaders in many forms of the games," Ellis said. "They're definitely going to be a challenge but one we're looking at taking on.

"We have to see ourselves as possible spoilers for the start of the tour."

The Cobham Oval audience will be the first in New Zealand to see dumped Black Caps captain Ross Taylor back in the international fold, when he pads up for the New Zealand XI in today's T20 match.

Hales admitted that although England would be the favourites, they wouldn't be taking the New Zealanders lightly.

But did the English catch any fish?

Hales said: "A few of the guys did and a few didn't.

"Fishing's not for me ... needs to be a bit more entertaining for me."

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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