Jeremy Wells

Jeremy Wells on cricket

Jeremy Wells: At the Plunket Shield, far from the madding crowd

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Wellington Firebirds batsman Luke Ronchi sweeps the ball during the Plunket Shield cricket match against the Auckland Aces being played at Eden Park. Photo / Greg Bowker
Wellington Firebirds batsman Luke Ronchi sweeps the ball during the Plunket Shield cricket match against the Auckland Aces being played at Eden Park. Photo / Greg Bowker

Eden Park No2. Monday, November 26: my first Plunket Shield experience of the 2012-13 season.

12.58pm

Arrive at Eden Park Outer Oval. I'm sure this place used to be called Eden Park No2 in another life. It's certainly hard to find your way in. I'd visited the service station across the road for some cricket treats. Ended up buying a large packet of chicken-flavoured chips, a stale cheese and onion sandwich on white bread, a 600ml soft drink and two chocolate bars - which I didn't really want but was coerced into by a pushy attendant almost demanding I buy two instead of one. Jed, the lone security guard, looks bored. On his table are some official looking bits of laminated white A4 paper with the ground rules written on them and a super-sized tub of SPF 30 sunscreen. I ask Jed how many people have used the sunscreen or read the rules. He says nobody.

1.02pm

Jesse Ryder is out caught behind. Bummer. Was really looking forward to watching him bat from the comfort of the Merv Wallace Stand (formerly located on the southwestern boundary of Eden Park No1). Mervyn not a name you hear newborns being called nowadays. Come to think of it, neither is Bert, Brian or Colin - all great cricket names of yesteryear but seldom heard outside of Orewa today. Bruce is another solid cricket name neglected by modern parents. Auckland's left arm orthodox spinner Bruce Martin was possibly the last person in New Zealand to be named Bruce unironically.

2.34pm

Went for a walk to the toilets under the old members stand opposite the cricket museum. Definitely the cleanest toilets I've encountered at a first class venue. I remember a few years ago visiting the toilets at Seddon Park and they smelled like cats had been urinating in them for thousands of years. These ones are freshly painted battleship grey and feature toilet lollies and everything. One of the more pleasant urinations I've had in a while. I have regrets that I didn't investigate the toilet roll delivery mechanism though. Nothing worse than a toilet roll dispenser that won't let you have more than one square of one ply at a time. Those annoying contraptions were the bane of my childhood. I'll make a note and check next time.

3.01pm

Spotted Martin Crowe wandering the boundary in a limited edition white Redfern Sons of Glory jacket. He seems to be stopping and chatting with pretty much everyone on his way around. Must be hard being a famous cricketer at a cricket ground with 60 spectators because every single person knows you. Maybe he likes talking with the general cricket public? I hope he doesn't spot me. He's spotted Chris Kuggeleijn and has stopped to talk to him. I wonder if they're reminiscing about the tour to India in 1988/89 when Kuggs took that slip catch to make Hadlee the highest wicket taker in history. Maybe he's giving him gyp about his middle name, which happens to be Mary. Quite a pretty name for a boy, Mary. Certainly prettier than Mervyn, Bert or Bruce.

3.30pm

Auckland Cricket CEO Mark Cameron just came and introduced himself to me. Nice guy. Kindly invited me to check out the hospitality in the Bert Sutcliffe lounge under the Merv Wallace Stand.

3.42pm

Retire to the Bert Sutcliffe lounge. A cricket tragic's wet dream ... actually it's better 'cos there's no washing to do here. Photos, memorabilia. A bar with a view to the pitch. This is perhaps Auckland's best-kept secret. I wonder if they serve tequila?

3.55pm

Just realised my car is in a bus lane which becomes a clear way at 4pm. Don't want to leave but don't want to be towed either.

3.58pm

Leave Eden Park. I think Wellington were on top.

- NZ Herald

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