New Zealand and Pakistan, 1992: A cricket fan always remembers his first test.

I recall sitting with Dad in a neck-flap sunhat on the old concrete embankment. We packed a lunch but for a special treat he bought a coke and chips as well.

Greatbatch was being bounced by Waqar or Wasim. A TV cameraman squatted next to us for one of those crowd-enjoying-the-occasion shots and for a few seconds, I was on TV. In the breaks in play, the local kids played tipnees in the outfield.

I saw All Blacks matches when tickets were still $10 or $15. France beat us. Canterbury beat the world. I remember that bizarre Super Rugby final when fog blotted out the field.


My 13th birthday present was a trip to a day-night match where some nearby fans got wasted and burnt an effigy of Shane Warne.

I remember Dad taking us for an after school haircut just around the corner, then unexpectedly whipping us in for the last hour of play.

I remember the thrill of managing to chat with Shaun Pollock on the boundary, and Chris Cairns wearing his *Gasp* controversial black shoes.

As soon as we were old enough to go alone, my buddy Hayden and I would hit the Pak'nSave and take the front row of the Eastern stand for domestic one-day matches. We'd glug bottles of budget creaming soda and soften the wooden bleaches with cushions we'd brought from home.

One day they knocked down the embankment. Hayden and I had our seventh-form formal in the fancy new stand.

You could fill a tome with stories from that place if you went back to day one.

The first scheduled sports event was 1881: a cricket match, rained out. In WWI they had to dig up the main field and plant potatoes to raise money. It hosted Dire Straits and Fergie McCormick, The Davis Cup, a swimming championship and the Queen.

When I opened the curtains and looked out my bedroom window you could fetch the binoculars and see the tiniest sliver of grass.


Retrospect, of course, has a funny way of twisting all your memories.

In truth, it was a poor cricket ground. It was exposed and the new stands were a bit too sanitary for my taste. The wind could be cruel, the sun hit weird angles. But although I remember being cold and wet and uncomfortable, unlike with all those happier memories, I don't recall the specifics of when.

It was gutting to see the place in ruin. The car park sprouting and our tipnees outfield uneven, overgrown and wrecked.

A year after the earthquake, I stood outside the old chicken wire fence and stared in. All you could hear was the easterly. The place hasn't been touched.

There are new plans afoot. Hagley has already proved itself to be the perfect place for cricket. In Christchurch, a new stadium will eventually be built. But the decision to finally demolish my concrete fortress of memories comes six years after the earthquake as something of a reprieve.

They can put the stadium out of its misery. They should put it out of its misery. I'll still miss Lancaster Park.