Good end after the worst start
Captains meeting done and dusted, massage finished, food done, blog and sleep to go before we head into the first Test of the summer against Pakistan, here in Dunedin.
This is a home series for Pakistan; Dunedin is about as far away from home they could find themselves climatically. I can’t believe I’ve just used the word ‘climatically’. It was very cold when we got here on Saturday, it has warmed up a bit, but when the wind comes in the temperature certainly drops a lot!
We’ve trained the last two days and trained well. It’s a good feeling when you look around the nets and field seeing the boys all going well; hitting the planned areas in the nets, taking our catches (slippers and outfielders) and showing the intensity that we’ll need to bring on game day tomorrow.
In our captains meeting our guest that handed out our Test Caps was Richard (Dick) Taylor, 1974 Commonwealth Games gold medalist in the 10,000 meters. This was a very special one for us. A Kiwi legend that put so much into one event, against a great field, and came up trumps! It was an honour to have him in our presence and have him present our caps.
We’re looking to bat first if blue is the major colour in the sky. The pitch looks like it will be pretty good first up to bat on; although that goes against a lot of first-class matches that are played down here. They quite often are over in less than three days. The last two Tests down here, the Bangers and the Windies, have been flat and pretty slow wickets. We’re expecting much of the same this time too.
Our bowling attack is probably one of the oldest put out on a park. We’ve been called ‘wizened’ and ‘geriatric’ by an ex-player in the media. It’s fair to say that between us (Martin, Bond, Tuffy and I) we’ve had a good laugh at it. We all feel great, sure it doesn’t get any easier, but in terms of fitness, energies, love of the game and desire, we’re as young as anyone would want to be!
I woke up this morning, pulled the curtains open and knew straight away that we would be batting. I was almost certain that if Pakistan won the toss they would bowl and, as it was a very blue sky, I knew we’d be batting. Dan lost the toss and we’re batting.
As always I was keen for a bowl but also, as always, it’s nice to have the feet up to watch the boys bat. I had a really good warm up, my bowling feels great at the moment (I know I maybe shouldn’t say that as it could very quickly bite me in the arse, but I feel great so I’m in a good place). The body is feeling fresh and full of energy.
Boots off, ankle brace off, trainers on and coffee in hand; time to settle in for the first session. There is always the little bit of nerves when you want to bat first and get to. Is that track going to do, or not do, what we think it will? Are they going to use the new ball as good as they’d hope to? Is it going to swing, seam, bounce or all of them?
We got off to the worst start possible, Tim McIntosh out first ball. Flynn was then out in the sixth over and we were 27-2. It is tough trying to stay positive in the viewing room when things don’t quite go to play; it goes pretty quiet for quite a while. The laughter and banter dries up for a bit and much as we try to stay positive there is always that little bit of you that says “please don’t let me have my pads on before tea! Please don’t make me bowl today!” Guptill and Taylor got the banter and laughter going back in our shed. They played brilliantly and got us right back on track.
Dan and Baz finished the day for us on a high, getting through six down sets us up for tomorrow nicely. This Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), which is on its official debut, had a good day out for us today. Baz was given out, second to last ball of the day, LBW. He challenged the decision and with the aid of technology he was given not out. Please note I’m not saying the original decision on Baz was a bad one either; in real time it looked pretty good! The way the system is now set up, in regards to how it was used during the West Indies series last summer, is a whole lot better. I’m still not saying I’m in complete favour of it, but I guess if there are less bad decisions made, the more true the battle will become.
Fast bowler Iain O'Brien played 22 Tests for New Zealand in the second half of the 2000s