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Andrew Alderson: Great to be back at the Basin

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dam Milne of New Zealand celebrates the wicket of Imad Wasim of Pakistan during the Twenty20 International match. Photo / Getty Images
dam Milne of New Zealand celebrates the wicket of Imad Wasim of Pakistan during the Twenty20 International match. Photo / Getty Images

One of the beauties of reporting on cricket is getting to use the Basin Reserve as an office for a few days each year.

I will be doing so today, thanks to the sensible decision to return one-day internationals to the venue after an almost 11-year hiatus.

That the match, on Wellington Anniversary Day, has been sold out is a perfect indication of how the Black Caps are capturing hearts and minds. The ground has a capacity of 8000, which may dip once sightscreens and walkways are accounted for.

A full house is good for players, spectators, broadcasters, venues and cities as a whole. It makes a contest resonate.

Even if you haven't a ticket, there are ways of watching live. Find a mate with an apartment on the periphery, or get a room in the southern wing of the Marksman Motor Inn.

This writer's first, albeit vague, memory of cricket at the Basin Reserve was from a TVNZ broadcast in 1983. New Zealand, in beige, were playing England, in powder blue. Lance Cairns, still in his pomp with the shoulderless Excalibur, entered to pinch-hit at No3.

He soon clobbered an off-spinner, either Geoff Miller or Vic Marks, with a shot that cleared the forest of pohutukawa and headed towards the Mt Victoria tunnel. The crowd went bananas, and cricket seemed a sport worth following.

Commentator Peter Williams, in a cricket version of Keith Quinn's most famous call, exclaimed: "Oh, oh, that one's at the airport."

Imagination might be taking hold here, but I think the replay showed the ball heading into the southern hemisphere's biggest roundabout and Billy Ibadulla, ever the dry sage, murmured, "There it goes, into the roundabout, one, two, three bounces."

It made for classic entertainment for a six-year-old, certainly better than anything Hanna-Barbera could deliver on What Now?

With an estimated 50,000 cars passing every weekday, the venue connects patrons to real life. Genuine work contributing meaningfully to the GDP goes on just outside the cricketing bubble.

The Basin also has admirers from further afield than cricket, namely the United Kingdom Roundabout Appreciation Society, which wanted to select the handsome circle as October in their 2014 calendar.

Westpac Stadium also deserves credit for permitting the ground's use today.

The stadium has a contract with New Zealand Cricket to stage all Wellington ODIs but an agreement was worked out which satisfied all parties, given Pakistan's ability to draw major crowds is nowhere near that of Australia, England, South Africa or India.

- NZ Herald

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Covers sport across NZME's print, digital and radio brands.

Andrew writes and broadcasts on cricket and the Olympic disciplines for NZME's print, digital, video and radio platforms. His most recent project followed New Zealand sportspeople competing in Europe during the 2015 northern summer. He has attended four cricket World Cups, three Olympics and regularly works as a correspondent overseas.

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