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A day at the Basin

By Don Franks

Although it shone a lovely sunny morning, few were present to see Ross Taylor gone first over.

Mostly only those slightly stooped, grey, leathery men and women you see walking towards the Basin on test days and you can tell they’re a spectator just from the look in their eye . A far away eternal seemingly knowledgeable look like no other.

As the time draws on the school boys roll up next in noisy little clumps, swinging their autographed bats. Around the ground they circuit, occasionally stopping to pat a few tennis balls against the picket fence, never a glance at the men doing boring adult activity in the middle. This year there’s a larger number of little girls in cricket shirts and hats, quieter than the boys,attending more to the match. Younger adult men start to appear, balancing over priced alcohol in large plastic cups inscribed “Good on you” . For balance, the scoreboard flashes between overs “Go the distance - go easy on the beersies”. For variety, the sign warns of consequences for racially abusive comments and actions.

The Basin reserve atmosphere is an odd mixture of serenity and tension. A Black cap batsman clunks on his studded boots the few yards between the practice nets and the players room. This hulking helmeted padded guy, armed with a wooden club is specially escorted by a tiny female security guard. He smiles and thanks her in a genuinely friendly way.

Out on the field, Tom Latham is nearing his magnificent double. Madneningly, the seat behind me has become filled by loudly opinionated youths. Half heartedly I try a glare, to little effect. At the wicket serenity and tension contend.

Latham radiates nervous urgency you can feel right across the ground, at the other end Colin de Grandhomme casually swats a lordly couple of sixes. When Latham’s moment comes all of us but the very old and the very ignorant rise to our feet and clap as hard as we’re able.

Soon after that I head home out of the blazing sun. How anyone can run round in it is incredible, how anyone can bat like that is a miracle. No-one could follow such an act.

Next day, Sri Lanka do exactly that.

Weather for the final day is set to bring down a curtain of rain. The cricket gods muttering that’s quite enough magic for one match.


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