Down at the Basin

By Patrick O’Keefe

When I was a kid, New Zealand seemed like such an exotic location to be playing cricket. I could get my head around a cricket match being played on the subcontinent. It is hot there. Cricket is played when it is hot. I could follow that logic. I think I grew up believing that the New Zealand cricket team were based in Australia. It was beyond my level of comprehension that anyone would want to spend a lonely day patrolling fine leg at the Basin Reserve, only to be called up to bowl a few overs into a gale force wind. I was aware the Basin Reserve existed, however I thought that it must exist as a training ground for huskies, not as a cricket field.

I always enjoy trans-tasman clashes. I remember Mark Greatbatch batting for what seemed like three days in Perth in 1990. Ewen Chatfield was another favorite. I can’t remember him ever taking wickets; I just loved the name ‘Ewen’ in combination with ‘Chatfield’. Chatfield bowling in tandem with Snedden. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Exactly twenty years prior to this recent Test, New Zealand enjoyed a 9 wicket win over Australia at the Basin Reserve. Australia were rolled for 110 in the first innings and didn’t recover. Greg Campbell took 3 of his 13 Test wickets. Bracewell bagged 6 wickets in Australia’s second dig. I am sure each of these wickets was accompanied with a carefully worded send off. Peter Taylor made 87 as a night watchman.

I remember the infamous World Cup clash in 1992. I was walking past a store in Launceston which sold TVs, and saw the first over of Australia’s ill fated campaign. Two wides to start, then a New Zealand wicket. Chalk up a win, I thought. How wrong I was to underestimate the wily Martin Crowe. Apparently, Bob Simpson complained to the press that Crowe had stolen his ideas. I had not been aware of Australia opening the bowling with an off-spinner, or using bowlers in two over spells. Well, I guess if Simmo says so…

Unlike that tumultuous World Cup match, the recent Test match followed a predictable pattern, for the most part. Ricky Ponting wins the toss, elects to bat. Australia makes a mountainous first innings total, then declares. New Zealand crumble in the first innings. Forced to follow on, New Zealand’s middle order again falters; before some gritty batting by the original one man band and his right hand man just manages to set Australia a total. Phil Hughes shows disdain for the pop gun attack of military medium pacers, and Australia celebrates a comfortable victory.

I enjoyed listening to the descriptions provided by the New Zealand commentary team. Well, really I just enjoyed listening to their accents. Admittedly, I was occasionally mystified by some of the content. Aside from the constant references to one of the commentators penchant for deer hunting, there was also a significant level of time spent grizzling about environmental restrictions which prevented mining in a nearby area. I assumed that the commentators must have been shareholders in a local mining consortium. I was driven to distraction by the level of bewilderment expressed every time Nathan Hauritz bowled a no-ball. This would be followed by a recital of the reasons why an off spinner shouldn’t bowl a no-ball. Similarly repetitious, though highly amusing, I loved the commentators continual reference to Vettori’s reliance upon ‘guile’. I started to develop the impression that rather than bowling, Vettori was actually hatching cunning plans with his spinning fingers.

The game was a little lackluster, but perhaps saved by some exceptional individual performances. North answered his critics well, in another instance where he has scored runs when they are most needed. Even though on this occasion it was he who needed those runs. Despite New Zealand appearing very thin, Australia have done well. They are playing for Punter, who cops his share of criticism, though is certainly leaving his mark on this team.


  1. Hey Patrick,

    What’s your best contact


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