Watching cricket in Tasmania is a gorgeous experience. As everywhere on this island of wild beauty, nature surrounds Hobart's Bellerive Oval in all its glory. For the visitor there is as much reason to gaze at the environs as at the play.
Sitting placidly across the Bass Strait, the island hosts an annual ODI and the odd spare Test match, being otherwise an adjunct to cricket on the mainland. The sporting passion of Tasmanians is immense, though. David Boon and Ricky Ponting are Tasmania's favourite sons. Indeed, the only serious rival to their popularity is the local world-champion log-chopper, David Foster.
This chilly isle of forests and mountains might have more in keeping with New Zealand than stereotypical imaginings of Australia, but Hobart is an astounding cricket destination.
Bellerive means "beautiful river bank", and the Oval delivers upon its name in every way. The ground rests upon an esplanade of the Derwent estuary, Hobart's deep-water harbour, gazing onto yachts, birds and the distant Antarctic. The picturesque coastal setting is crowned by the glorious vision of Mount Wellington looming over the horizon.
Thirty years ago Bellerive was a suburban oval with a ridge so pronounced that only the torsoes of players on the other side of the ground were visible. Progressively remodelled since Tasmania's involvement in Australian cricket, it has been substantially developed in preparation for the World Cup. Improved facilities and increased seating can do little to diminish the ground's abundant charms, however, for it would take a mighty grandstand to block Mount Wellington.
Australia v Pakistan, Benson & Hedges World Series, 1992
Bellerive was still in its infancy as an international ground when it hosted a dogged tie. Australia, following a solid opening 228, picked apart Pakistan's top order despite an obstinate Saleem Malik. Asif Mujtaba enjoyed his final hour as he flailed with the tail, though, dismantling Steve Waugh's last over for 16 to a level result.
England v New Zealand, 2007
After a wretched Ashes tour, England's first joy came as James Anderson hit form to take four wickets in New Zealand's opening innings. The English laboured over the chase, however, and it took a doughty 72 off 75 deliveries from Andrew Flintoff - with a drive from the match's penultimate ball - to see their first win of the summer. They went on to be unlikely eventual victors in the ODI series.
Tasmanian cricket toiled a long time before entering domestic competition, and though it has produced three outstanding international cricketers, the island always been hampered by its small population. Recent international players such as Ben Hilfenhaus, Tim Paine, George Bailey, Xavier Doherty and Matthew Wade have not lived up to their promise, but the likes of Alex Doolan and James Faulkner show great potential.
Benjamin, a resident of Melbourne, is writing a thesis on "Music about Donald Bradman"