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

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.

Posted by Alana Bowman on (October 17, 2012, 1:25 GMT)

The view from the grounds would be dominated by a wall of concrete along the main entrance to the grounds, hoisted into the air on huge columns. The noise from roaring traffic would be loud and intrusive because vehicles and their noises will be high in the air and near the grandstand and the grassy hill. Bowlers and batters would stare into streaming traffic. There is a better alternative at less cost and would not require a flyover. Please take a minute to contact the New Zealand Prime Minister - john.key@parliament.govt.nz

Posted by Ralph Pannett on (October 16, 2012, 22:39 GMT)

Wellington's Basin Reserve is such a charming ground, near the city centre, to enjoy both the excitement and drama of The Game, the crowd engagement and humour, and the reflective moments in between. It is appalling that the transport philistines plan (on the basis of dubious 'benefit/cost' arguments) to despoil this sanctuary to the noble game.

Rise up, cricket lovers!

Posted by Willemijn Vermaat on (October 16, 2012, 21:49 GMT)

It's amazing how roading takes priority over good urban design plans. With a bit of common sense and looking at the future, it shows that roading is not the solution. Other countries show that investments in good urban design, public transport and investment in active transport show a much bigger impact on traffic improvements.

Posted by Vishal on (October 16, 2012, 13:58 GMT)

Can't understand what will they get by demolishing one of the finest cricketing venues in the world.

Posted by Gizza on (October 16, 2012, 11:12 GMT)

I similar it is slightly different, but the modernisation of the Adelaide Oval in Australia is also going to destroy its character. Looks like only Newlands, Lords and Dharamsala are left! (I might be missing few others but you get my drift)

Posted by JAY on (October 16, 2012, 8:53 GMT)

We fully support you. Basis Reserve is an iconic ground. It should be saved from the hazards of commercialisation! NZ PM should take note of that!

Posted by Lindsay Shelton on (October 16, 2012, 8:19 GMT)

All of us in Wellington are waiting for the Basin Reserve Trust, who control the ground on behalf of the city council, to come out and oppose the flyover. So far, their attitude seems to say they support this 380-metre-long concrete bridge, which would be dreadful for the Wellington cityscape as well as dreadful for the cricket ground.

Posted by Elaine Hampton on (October 16, 2012, 8:14 GMT)


This is the man to email. Tell him to "Save the Basin" This iconic ground with heritage status should not be sacrificed to pork barrel politics. Cricket power Wellington does not need more roads it needs improved public transport. Come and visit, we will be very pleased to have you

Posted by davidc on (October 16, 2012, 6:43 GMT)

Good article. That motorway really will destroy the ambience of the best test cricket ground in Australasia The stupid thing is there have been alternative plans but forward that show that, if there does have to be a new motorway, then it could be done without the flyover.

Posted by V on (October 16, 2012, 5:36 GMT)

This is sad news for all fans of Cricket! How do we contact the NZ government?

Posted by Balachandhran S on (October 16, 2012, 5:05 GMT)

Finally an article from a fan focused on the true nitty-gritties of the game.

I wish more such articles come from various parts of the world highlighting challenges (infrastructural and other) at cricket grounds and training facilities. It is time that international and national bodies start investing more on the core cricketing infrastructure.

Posted by Sudheera on (October 16, 2012, 3:35 GMT)

Basin reserve is a wonderfull cricket ground in the world. Deffinitly it will be a one of world heritage when concerning sport. Therefore it shoud be protected for future generation also.

Posted by hari krishna on (October 16, 2012, 2:03 GMT)

where should i send the email to? Thought provoking article, basin reserve has always been one of my favorite grounds

Posted by Anilkp on (October 16, 2012, 0:44 GMT)

We Indians would love flyovers as, as revealed to anyone over google maps, we have very few of those. But, I can fully sense your reasoning, I can feel the outrage, I can see the senseless ignorance of heart (what is cricket in cricket-playing nations, if not heart?). I support you, my friend, with all my heart. I shall try finding Mr Key's address and send a sincere request. Thank you for raising a genuine voice.

Posted by Leonie Reynolds on (October 16, 2012, 0:14 GMT)

It would be so depressing to sit trying to watch cricket right next to traffic roaring past on a flyover... here's hoping it doesn't go ahead.

Posted by Jacob on (October 15, 2012, 23:49 GMT)

Thank you!

The flyover is a sad example of this country's current mindless drive for “productivity” and “economic growth”. What use is more money if you’ve ruined the places you want to enjoy it? The drive to mine conservation land falls in the same bracket. The great things about this country are places like the Basin Reserve, the Wellington waterfront (also no developers radar), the huge areas of protected wilderness. So what is our plan? Destroy everything that makes this country special so that we can all afford a bigger TV?

Posted by Patrick Morgan on (October 15, 2012, 20:09 GMT)

Basin Reserve flyover plans are just not cricket Proposals for an expensive, ugly flyover at the Basin Reserve are flawed at many levels.

The sound of cork on willow would be drowned by the rumble of traffic.

By attracting more traffic, the flyover would make congestion worse, not better.

We need affordable transport solutions that deliver proven benefits, not an ill-conceived, unpopular, rushed concrete monstrosity.

NZTA’s mad flyover plans have been caught out behind, and should march back to the dressing room.

Posted by Sid on (October 15, 2012, 17:10 GMT)

What's the email id of the prime minister?

Posted by Aby on (October 15, 2012, 14:21 GMT)

its a pity. NZ Cricket is deseperately short of funds. Hope the bigger countries like india, england and australia and icc spend some money to save this ground. This ground could be lost for good if the truck lobby have their way.It wont do NZ cricket or the cricket loving public any good.

Posted by iftikhar ali wahla on (October 15, 2012, 14:15 GMT)


I am appalled to hear that one of the most picturesque grounds in Cricketing world is slated to be a victim of myopic planning. The sound of leather over willow should never be drowned in the growling ruckus of truck engines. Please prevail and try to knock some sense in those city planners heads.



Posted by Mike Barker on (October 15, 2012, 13:52 GMT)

Its the finest pure test cricket ground in New Zealand by a country mile, admired by Kiwi fans of the game from the Bluff to Cape Reinga. Let it be

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