February 13, 2014

The Basin bucket list

Visit the museum, frolic on the grass, and watch the game from a special, er, urinal

A couple of ardent Basinophiles soak in the atmosphere © ESPNcricinfo Ltd/Paul Ford

Nothing lifts your working day out of the doldrums than the boss approving a day's annual leave for Friday - of course it's Valentine's Day and even more romantically, the first day of the Test match at the Basin Reserve.

For punters heading along to the game, either for the first time or because it's what they do every year, I have a cheeky little assignment for you to work through on the day: a Basin bucket list if you will.

Enter via the CS Dempster Gate: Meander down Kent/Cambridge Terrace and enjoy the arced signage of the Dempster gate that doubles as the turnstile, before you hit a wall of hi-viz vests searching through your ham sandwiches and stash of pistachio nuts. Remember that Stewie Dempster scored New Zealand's first-ever Test ton back on January 24, 1930 - and landed a Test career average of 66.

Swing by the NZ Cricket Museum: Tucked into the ground floor of the condemned Museum Stand, the NZCM is in the throes of a makeover under the watchful and relatively youthful eye of Jamie Bell. Make a donation and get your anorak and reminiscence hat on, and get amongst it. Worth a follow on Twitter too. Absolutely overflowing with retro moments and poignant trivia.

Destination urination: Get yourself into the urinal at the southern end of the ground. It looks like a deserted ammunition bunker, but the view from in there is often a sight to behold: tucked up behind the bowler's arm, staring out through the concrete block walls and the creeper vines and soaking the game up in your minute of greatest need.

Grill Basinophile protesters: Much has been made of the plans to build a new road near the Basin Reserve, so you can expect Save the Basin sympathisers to be out in force. I don't have a strong view on the road or not-to-road debate, but I question the motives of some anti-road campaigners passing as cricket fans to generate sympathy for their cause. As The Wellingtonian community newspaper put it: "..its primary motivation is to try to prevent roads being built. The group has merely linked itself to an iconic Wellington landmark as a public relations exercise. After all, Save the Basin sounds a lot better than Stop Roads Being Built."

If you stumble across them on the day or have a flyer foisted upon you, I suggest you do a reference check to make sure any chameleons are outed as non-cricket fans.

Beer at the Cambridge Hotel: Because it's a proper Kiwi pub - and the ideal place to while away a rain delay or an eternal partnership.

Frolic on the field at lunch: Pack the Beige Brigade backyard cricket set and get amongst the outfield in the innings break. The Basin remains one of the few grounds in the world where the crowd is allowed to set foot on the hallowed match turf. Hot tip: Don't slide on groundsman Brett Sipthorpe's grass carpet in shorts - it will melt your shin.

Standing ovation for Waggers: You should be on your feet when Neil Wagner comes on to bowl or wanders out to bat at No. 10. After his lionhearted effort to rip the aorta out of the Indian innings at Eden Park on Sunday, the man must be acknowledged as a well-coiffed Kiwi hero this week. He won't regard the Basin as a happy hunting ground, though: in two Test matches he's taken 4 for 226 from 57 overs and is yet to score a run.

Paul Ford is a co-founder of the Beige Brigade. He tweets here

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  • Piripi on February 14, 2014, 10:04 GMT

    @Insult_2_Injury - the Basin is probably the biggest of the NZ cricket grounds - it's a proper oval shape, unlike the others, which are rectangular rugby grounds. It can be a stunning venue when the sun shines, and the wind does not always blow straight off the Antarctic. Having said that, I have been there during a first class game when the sight screen blew away!

    Another interesting factoid - the Basin is so called because it used to be a lake, before the magnitude 8.2 earthquake in 1855 lifted it a few metres higher above sea level. It might also take a seismic shift for NZ to get back into this test match, unfortunately. I'll be there in the weekend regardless.

  • David on February 14, 2014, 7:09 GMT

    I did 1, 4, 5 and 7 today, and have done 2,3 and 6 in the past. Got a couple of free jugs at the 'Bridge after they stuffed up our breakfast, and told the 'save the Basin' people that the Basin was saved when the new stand was approved. Shame about the score at the end of day one though...

  • Simon on February 14, 2014, 5:27 GMT

    Looked up the Basin to get some background, having never been there. I know you NZ'ers think size doesn't matter, but how small is that ground? I guess with the freezing cold summer winds, you don't want to have to run from the centre of the size of the MCG, you'd end up with hypothermia.

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2014, 18:56 GMT

    Paul, it's not a road they're planning to build - it's a flyover right next to the Basin. I don't care if opponents like cricket or not - either way, it'll be a blot on the landscape.

  • Wayne on February 13, 2014, 16:16 GMT

    Wagner is a musical genius!

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