New Zealand v Australia, 1st Test, Wellington, 4th day March 22, 2010

Gale forces risky undercover work

The windy city
The first three days didn't feature the windiest of Wellington's conditions but come day four, the weather was wild. Extreme wind and blowy rain delayed the start of play by half an hour and getting the covers on was a hassle. Worse came for the groundstaff when the rain stopped. The big cover used for the square was carried to the boundary before blowing away, and only one tenacious man managed to hang on to it and prevent it flying over the fence and out of the ground, although he was dragged quite a few metres in the process. Meanwhile, a member of the groundstaff was standing on the smaller cover still on the pitch. The cover blew out from under his feet and he landed with a thud on the pitch

All Black support
The north-westerly wind gusts of up to 120kph also blew the roller over before play and later in the day the helmet sitting behind Brad Haddin rolled away to fine leg. It caused problems for the fans sitting on the grassy hill, where only a few hardy souls braved the conditions. One of the most prominent amongst them was Jason Eaton, the lock for the All Blacks. Eaton has the protection of some magnificent facial hair and was hiding under a tarpaulin, but showed his toughness by wearing shorts under the covers. The Met Service called the wind a gale but advised that only one layer of clothing was required, so tough are those New Zealanders. The Australian fielders, shivering in their shirts and vests, didn't agree.

Six and out of the ground
The Basin Reserve feels like a small-town ground and the match started to seem like a club game with all the comical events of the day. It all culminated in Nathan Hauritz leaving the premises and venturing out onto Rugby Street to look for the ball after Brendon McCullum hooked a six off Mitchell Johnson. Hauritz might have been risking life and limb on one of the busiest roads in Wellington and he came back empty-handed. The ground announcer casually told the spectators "well, we've lost the ball," but soon afterwards a fan found it and play resumed. "It crashed into a van," Hauritz said. "So I thought it would have been still around there but it was nowhere to be found. I don't know where it went. The traffic wasn't beeping at me or anything like that."

Mitch uses his head, again
Johnson's head-clash with Scott Styris sparked up the one-day series and he used his noggin again today, though not deliberately. When the players were walking out after a short bad-light delay - another farcical element as it lasted about ten minutes just after lunch - the umpire Ian Gould bowled the ball to Johnson, who was starting up for Australia. Unfortunately, Johnson wasn't watching and the ball hit him in the head. Two balls later, Johnson missed a caught-and-bowled chance off Daniel Vettori and nearly copped another blow to the skull.

Visiting the ref
Daniel Vettori's journey up the grandstands to the match referee's room on the third day caused a tense Q&A between Mark Greatbatch and a New Zealand reporter. However, Javagal Srinath cleared up the issue the following day and said that Vettori's visit was nothing out of the ordinary. "He wanted to clarify something," Srinath said. "Look, I go down and talk to them all the time. It was just that he wanted to understand the way the caught-behind was working. That's it. There was nothing really serious about it. It was not unusual. The problem was that he had to walk through the public to come all the way up here to talk to me. But it is not a new thing that has happened. It has happened several times."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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  • on March 22, 2010, 11:13 GMT

    Excellent!

  • on March 22, 2010, 11:13 GMT

    Excellent!

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  • on March 22, 2010, 11:13 GMT

    Excellent!