There is nothing quite like a test match at a boutique cricket ground. Not to mince words, but test matches have long periods of time where nothing much happens. It is crucial from a fan point of view that their surroundings are pleasant and comfortable enough for these dull periods to pass them by. The Basin is perfect for this. Lying on the grassy bank, I have whiled away many afternoons watching games.
This is the first Basin Test I haven’t gone to in years. I saw Marcus North rack up a century against a pop gun attack, I saw Mark Gillespie and Chris Martin desperately avert the follow on against South Africa, I saw New Zealand collapse against Harbhajan and Khan. Basin tests are sporting events that transcend the sport itself, they are experiences to savour. I no longer live in Wellington, and watching the match currently underway was the first time I have felt the pangs of homesickness.
It is incredibly gratifying to see the numbers that have poured in for this match though. Test cricket relies heavily on days like today, Metservice informs me that it is a pleasant day in the capital, not too hot, not too cold, not too windy. What better way to spend a saturday than to head down to one of the finest cricket grounds in the world to see one of the best teams in the world? (I mean England, last match notwithstanding) The cricketing public of Wellington have voted with their feet, and by going to the Basin test in large numbers they are sending a clear message about their cricketing priorities.
One of the great things about televised matches at the Basin is that the ground looks incredibly full. Contrasting this to the windswept, empty stadiums that India and Australia are playing in, the atmosphere created by a full ground creates a true television spectacle. The Barmy Army have added to this significantly, hearing the songs and trumpets in the background of the broadcast makes it possible to believe you are there.
If you are in Wellington at the moment, make sure you get along. The chances to see more Basin tests might be limited. At present the NZ Transport Agency is planning to build a motorway flyover over one of the stands. The Basin Reserve as we know it will cease to exist. At present a road runs around the ground, but the self contained nature of the stands and banks means that noise disruption is rare. This will change if the flyover is built, and not for the better. Cricket fans should make the most of what they have while they have it, for it might not be long before the experience of a Basin Reserve is gone forever.