October 15, 2012

New Zealand cricket

Save Basin Reserve for cricket

Tim Jones
A general view across the Basin Reserve, New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington, March 15, 2008
The roar of truck engines could kill Test cricket at Wellington's Basin Reserve  © Getty Images
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Imagine you're at a Test match at Basin Reserve, New Zealand's iconic cricket ground, located a few minutes' walk from the centre of Wellington. Virat Kohli is at the crease. He's on 99, eyeing up the options for his century: perhaps a push into the covers, perhaps a leg glance. The bowler runs in, thinking he has a chance, thinking that Kohli might be distracted by the impending century. He gathers himself, leaps, delivers. The ball is overpitched outside off stump, perfect for a cover drive. But as Kohli prepares to play it, he is distracted by the roar of a truck as it races along the motorway flyover that arches past the north-eastern boundary of the ground. All he manages is a tentative push, and the ball nestles in the keeper's gloves. It's just a pity for the home fans that the umpire can't hear the snick above the roar of the traffic.

Sounds far-fetched? Unfortunately, the threat is all too real. Basin Reserve, New Zealand's iconic cricket ground, the scene of 53 Test matches since 1930, the ground where Daniel Vettori took his first Test wicket, faces its greatest challenge. The New Zealand government, led by Prime Minister John Key, has set out on a massive road-building programme, largely to meet the demands of the powerful trucking lobby, who want to fill up New Zealand roads with ever bigger trucks. Part of that road-building programme involves building a new motorway past Basin Reserve.

With an arrogance that is matched only by their ignorance of cricket, the motorway planners have decided to put that motorway on a flyover that would arc around the north-eastern side of the ground. When these plans were first outlined, the motorway promoters claimed that they would build a new grandstand at the Basin to block out the sight and sound of the motorway. But now the plans have been officially announced, they don't include a new grandstand - apparently it will cost too much.

Even if the new grandstand was in place, it would be a partial solution at best. If the motorway builders get their way, cricket at the Basin will be played - if it's played at all - over the thrum of wheels and the roaring of engines. There are much better options: investing more in public transport to reduce road congestion, making roading improvements at ground level, or even continuing the motorway tunnel that is being built west of the Basin right under the Basin itself.

What's more, the motorway builders of the New Zealand Transport Agency are asking for more and more public money at a time when money is very tight. So a lot of the New Zealand public, including people who aren't cricket fans, want these projects to be stopped. What can we do? That the good opinion of cricket-playing countries is important to the current government is apparent. So maybe it's time for concerned cricket fans, from New Zealand and elsewhere, to remind the government of what the people want; tell the prime minister, in an email, that you want Basin Reserve left in peace as a cricket ground, not ruined by a motorway flyover. It will only take a few moments of your time, but it could make all the difference in the world to Basin Reserve.

Keywords: Controversy

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Riggles on (December 21, 2012, 1:07 GMT)

lol, not saying I agree with the flyover but your scenario really is far fetched. If their were a flyover there would likely be less noise & distractions as the sound from the viaduct would travel upwards away from the cricket ground. Unlike today where you have congested traffic, trucks starting and stopping and car beeping horns on all 4 sides of the ground with no noise mitigation.

Posted by Tim Jones on (November 19, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

In response to "insider", Kohli would be a whole lot more distracted by traffic rumbling along a 9-metre-tall flyover than by the current traffic which is at ground level and behind grassy banks. The planned flyover, if it goes ahead, will be a monumental eyesore, quite apart from the fact of the noise it will generate.

Posted by insider on (October 23, 2012, 0:34 GMT)

Why would Kohli be distracted by a truck and not the 30,000 other vehicles that currently go around the Basin every day? Has he never heard the buses or the fire engines that are a regular part of broadcasts from the ground?

What Tim jones fails to make clear is, a two to three lane road already goes around the Basin, and has done for most of the last century - so traffic noise at the Basin is nothing new, particualarly in the third session.

He also fails to tell you that the new flyover will be further away from the Basin than the existing road. So not everything you read is the full truth...

Posted by Steve Whitehouse on (October 22, 2012, 11:48 GMT)

Surely there must be some way of solving Wellington's traffic problems without building a motorway flyover across one end of the Basin Reserve, one of the cricketing world's most attractive and intimate venues.

Posted by Gordon Anderson on (October 19, 2012, 15:45 GMT)

I've watched many a game at the Basin Reserve, it is a beautiful and unique ground and almost certainly the best one in New Zealand. To destroy the ambience of the ground for at best a couple of minutes of saved driving time is sacrilege. Having moved to Bangkok, what one considers a 'traffic jam' does change. Wellington is just fine the way it is

Posted by Rahul kumar on (October 19, 2012, 9:57 GMT)

it's a pity that mr.key's government is planning to build a fly over aross the north eastern end of one of the most picturesque cricket ground in the world.It would dampen the zeal and satisfaction of watching the rigours of test cricket.plz let basin reserve be as it is.

Posted by Sridhar on (October 18, 2012, 9:17 GMT)

@ Sid, the prime ministers email address is john.key@parliament.govt.nz

Posted by alex on (October 17, 2012, 23:44 GMT)

The delays on the road around the Basin are nothing, even at rush hour. No need for this costly and ruinous road to go ahead.

Posted by Keith Joseph on (October 17, 2012, 12:31 GMT)

I went to New Zealand for the first time in September of this year, coming fro half wa around the world in the West Indies. On my arrival at the airport after the usual greetings with my host, the next I asked was to see the Basin Reserve cricket ground. I had heard so much of it and saw it on TV during matches, that I had to see it for myself. It was amazing feeling to walk on such a beautiful ground rich with history and legacy of the game of cricket. The ground is even much more beautiful and breathtaking than I ever imagined. Please I beg the New Zealand government do all in your power to preserve this jewel of cricket grounds. The value of this could not be estimated in dollars, cents or sense.

Posted by Mohamed Zahid on (October 17, 2012, 7:01 GMT)

very lovely ground.government must research another place for country development programs.

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