Archive for February, 2013

Viewing Record For England ODI Matches (Away) Stands At: Seen 2, Lost 1, Won 1, Drawn 0

Joe Root, Joe Root, Joe Root is on fire.

The Barmy Army won’t sanction this View inspired ditty as an official chant. Too football connotation heavy or something.

Fair enough.

What no one can argue with is the sentiment. The young Yorkshireman looks the real deal in all forms of the game.

As a good friend* of mine would say here; “Whataplayer!!!!”

What a player indeed.

Match report to follow, I’ll probably throw something together or other on the bus on the way back up to Auckland. Well played England, Saturday’s series finale should be a cracker.

*Hello Shaid!

She’s A Waterfall

A chance encounter with professional Yorkshireman and all round good egg Gareth and his mate Barney in the town centre ended up with me cadging a lift to Maraetotara Falls, a beautiful spot between Hastings and Napier.

On the way there we went through Clive. Gareth couldn’t stop giggling.

Then a pleasant half an hour’s drive through winding, Provencal like countryside to get to our destination, hidden away among the vast, sun burnt hill ranges.

I’ll let the photos do the rest.




And yes, the water was a bit King Billy*. Though not as cold as Bridlington in high season, apparently.

I’m much obliged to Gareth and Barney for the lift and a great use of a Tuesday afternoon. Bussing it round New Zealand has been more cost effective than driving, at the expense, however, of losing myself unexpectedly in places like these.

And seeing great trees like these**.


*Hello Chesh!
**Hello China!

Coming Like A Ghost Town

A late night stroll through the Bay City of Napier in the company of John, the gentleman farmer, and Jason, the not-so gentlemanly Watford fan (Only kidding mate!), eventually yielded a couple of convivial pints. Our walk around the seemingly deserted Art Deco capital of the world in search of pub, and an open one at that, became more difficult than it initially appeared.

As we trudged along the empty streets I half expected Terry Hall and his chums to come careering noisily round the corner in a batted Vauxhall Cresta to break the eerie quiet. Bands won’t play no more.

Restaurants stood in darkness, even the fast food boys had sneaked off early. What the city lacks in pubs and people it makes up for in character; clearly the town planners here were made of sterner stuff and clearer conviction than their Stevenage counterparts.

After half an hour’s fruitless endeavour, we reached a quiet pub halfway down Dickens Street. A couple tangoed happily in the corner of this otherwise empty establishment with a resonant air of the bouzouki dancers in Monty Python’s Cheese Shop sketch as we swapped travel stories and moaned about the hopeless state of modern football over our beers. With one eye on my appetite and the other on the time I noted, having seen the lack of available options earlier, we should probably do something about food.

The only other signs of life were an Irish Bar on Hastings Street. Ah, praise be, the haven of travellers everywhere, especially those with an identity crisis.
Our luckless arrival met with the kitchen’s closing, but, in a rare show of Kiwi customer service, the delightful barmaid offered to do us a pizza.
Settling in over a welcome reacquaintance with the cult Caaaaaaallldd One of Western Australia, Little Creatures Pale Ale, we gladly and hungrily acquiesced. Two minutes later, voila!

Haute cuisine New Zealand style….


Thankfully, I’m not in Napier on Friday for my weekly pie treat.

Thank you to Farmer John for the photo.

Viewing Record For England ODI Matches (Away) Stands At: Seen 1, Lost 1, Won 0, Drawn 0

Forget the doom-mongers and obituary writers, the One Day International is alive and well as yesterday’s first-of-three match between New Zealand and England proved. A low-scoring first innings by England in the surrounds of the cheerily sedate Seddon Park in Hamilton set up a tense encounter which the home side won by three wickets. In fairness, the critics of this format have had it easy; the T20 juggernaut continues to consume all before it with more seemingly hastily assembled national leagues popping up at will all over the globe and the money and airtime poured into this version seemingly endless while, like the long fight sketch in The Fast Show, ODI series drone on and on seemingly irrelevantly. Witness recent dead horse flogging (to be topical) tournaments on England v Australia tours and innumerable, inconsequential subcontinental round robins.
How many games are there? Who’s winning? Are they still playing? Haven’t they gone home yet?

Who cares?

In this series the balance is right. The best of three. The audience remain captive, the players remain fresh, the competition is concentrated.
Less is definitely more.

What else have we learned from last night? That, for all the gloomy locals protestations, NZ cricket, especially in this format is alive and well.
In Kane Williamson the New Zealanders have unearthed a real gem. Williamson has it all, temperament, technique, tempo. Here, Williamson’s well made 74 , before being deftly run out by an all Warwickshire combination of Chris Woakes and Ian Bell, was the catalyst for his team’s reply. His repair job following the Black Caps early travails provided the ballast for captain Brendon McCullum’s match winning salvo.
Of concern to the Kiwis should be how much they come to depend upon this talent in the next ten years over all three formats because Williamson will undoubtedly have to carry his nation at various times as some of the old guard step down and some of the, as yet unidentified new blood, step up. Burn out could be a problem, especially with the higher paying, aforementioned T20 vultures looking to claim this tyro for their own selfish needs. Test cricket needs more Williamsons coming through and to deny crowds the sight of players of this quality would be another body blow for the traditional game that seems to be falling in favour everywhere but its birthplace.

A player already sadly prematurely lost to Test cricket is Kyle Mills, yet in one day cricket he is still a real handful. Ably supported by the eager, brisk left armer Mitchell McClenaghan, who deservedly finished with a four wicket haul, Mills pinned England down at important intervals returning impressively miserly figures of 32-2 from his ten overs.

McCullum’s 69 from 61 balls underlined his importance to the national side, despite his unwitting involvement in an uncomfortable, politically dominated summer which has had Kiwi fans squirming in embarrassment. His role as finisher here showed England how to make use of the last fifteen overs. While England stuttered, losing wickets and groping around for runs in the latter stages of their innings, McCullum flourished, taking England’s probable Test pace attack apart with characteristic verve as he reined in the target of 259 with help from firstly brother Nathan, then the war-wounded Martin Guptill.

England, meanwhile, know they are looking down the barrel with two to play. Their task in Napier on Wednesday is simple; win. Something that is very achievable given their playing resources, but they need to improve a long way in a short time. They were good in parts here , Joe Root’s 56 giving a further example of his growing importance to England across all formats. Bell looked in excellent touch, before falling when well set on 64. Jonathon Trott top scored with 68 while James Anderson overtook Sir Ian Botham to become England’s all time leading wicket taker.

Magic Of The Cup III

The title is a complete misnomer. There’s no magic or romance about Millwall. Realism? Definitely, their party-pooping professionalism shone through earlier. Ruination? Ah, yes, sadly, inevitably. Romance? Never.
So it was when I saw the draw I thought the worse. There’s just absolutely nothing fairytale or fluffy bunny about a team from The Docks deep within the East End of London. They’re called The Lions for heavens’ sake. For all our clutching at straws and brave talk, it was never going to be enough. I’d have preferred Arsenal (So too, would our late, great chairman Eric Morecambe I think…).

Job done and credit to Millwall for their win. The end of dreaming for Luton. Now, the nightmare of qualification back to the football league re-awaits. I’ll be honest, there’s absolutely no chance of us going up this year. Our FA Cup adventure has been just that and fun while it lasted while the revenue it has brought in will be most welcome. However, the cup run has been too much of a distraction I don’t see us coming back from.

Macclesfield away on Tuesday night. The first of eighteen ‘cup finals’ between us rightfully regaining our league status. We need to dig deep. It’s still in our hands but I fear the worst.

No Que-sera, sera, as the song goes, for us again this year. Not in the Cup anyway. Wembley for the playoffs? Possibly. Will it end in tears?
Almost definitely.

Kiwis, Cricket, Cannons. Martin, McGrath, Mullally. Marvellous. Get Involved!

I’m in Hamilton, Waikato for the weekend for tomorrow’s first One Day International between New Zealand and England. From here on in my travelling takes me wherever England play and as a result, like my adventures in India, there’ll be a lot more cricket related stuff appearing on the blog.

So to appease readers who aren’t so taken with my favourite sport, here’s a nice early morning picture from the Bay of Islands yesterday:


For everyone else and for those cricket newbies who’ve diligently carried on reading, here’s a deliberate plug for my cricket club back home in Bedfordshire.
Hamilton is home to a mighty New Zealander who now resides in my neck of the woods. Kiwi Geoff, or Jif, as he is sometimes known, has been instrumental in helping take Elstow CC forward. As a result mainly of Geoff’s enthusiasm and fundraising efforts we now have facilities and a junior cricket set up to be proud of. Keen to carry on the good work, this summer we play host to Australia and New Zealand as international cricket comes to Bedfordshire.

Promising ‘Bigger Bashes Than The Ashes’, at Elstow Cricket Club we are looking to serve up a feast of international cricket on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th June. The tournament will be held at our club’s home, The Warren, Elstow, deep in the English game’s forgotten heartland, Bedfordshire, and will comprise a three-team T20 competition between sides from England, Australia and New Zealand.

Staged to coincide with the Antipodean nations’ visits to England in Summer 2013, the Elstow Tri-Nations Series offers an antidote for the discerning cricket fan looking for an alternative to over-priced venues and free from the soap operas and sideshows that are synonymous with the modern game. Elstow Cricket Club is keeping international cricket real.

Dubbed The 3M’s Trophy, in honour of Messrs Martin, McGrath and Mullally, we recognise something of ourselves in those three signature number eleven batsmen. There’s the quest to improve, to entertain, to give your best when everything’s stacked against you and sometimes even triumph.

Elstow Cricket Club is looking to do exactly this as we welcome the world to The Warren. We have set ourselves the target of accumulating the same amount in pounds raised over the weekend as these upstanding have-a-go merchants achieved in Test runs.

Times five… Plus a bit more.

The funds we raise for the club will enable us to grow membership, especially of the junior ranks, and develop the club’s facilities. We held a similar event to tie in with the last Australian tour in 2009 – The Elstow Ashes – and next year’s project is the long awaited follow on to this. The teams will get the honour of representing their country, under floodlights and roared on by a vociferous local crowd. Local bands, brews and barbeques will also help make the weekend.

Get your fun off the A421 and get down to Bedfordshire for a smorgasbord of international cricket this summer.

If you’re an Australian or Kiwi reading this and want to achieve one of your life’s ambition by turning out for your team, if you’re a potential sport loving sponsor and can donate a few readies or are a local keen to volunteer or turn up and and support over the weekend, please get in touch with the club at or via this website.

Please try and support us if you can. Thank you for reading.

For the non-cricketers among you who’ve kept reading and, indeed, everyone else, here’s a picture of Uncle Ken’s cannons (Hello Geoff!).


Booooommm!!!! As Kevin Pietersen might say.

Have a great weekend.

Nasty Surprise Pies

A pitstop on the journey between Paihia and Hamilton gives me little in the way of time or choice. Muffin Break at the bottom of quayside Queen Street in Auckland it is then.
I select the Kiwi Standard (Steak & Cheese to the uninitiated) and, as the pie is being warmed through, get the spiel from the over-eager assistant advising me of their latest Get Every 5th Coffee Free offer and how I can take advantage of this fantastic offer in any of their stores nationwide.

Considering this briefly on my way back to the coach, I take my seat, and watch alongside my captivated co-passengers as, to the faint sound of Don McLean’s Starry, Starry Night murmuring on wistfully in the background, a scrap between the half-pint sized driver and a Bolshy bicycle-stowing tourist twice his size breaks out. It adds a little unexpected spice to my lunch break.

After the handbags have been put away and a seething, uneasy truce declared, I get to work on my pie. Unlike last week’s astronomically inspired effort, today’s is standard pie shape. The over-thick pastry encases an inconsequential, measly waft of white cheese and a film-textured grey gloop that takes me back to my march across the mangroves this time yesterday. While any meagre steak morsels there are contained within the pie drown helplessly in the quicksand. Then on my second bite I’m greeted with an unwelcome bright yellow chunked stowaway.



Now I’m quite fond of surprises, but this is one I could do without. What crazy, sacrilegious business is this? Like turning up to a Stone Roses gig only to find Mani’s been replaced by one of the pipsqueaks out of McFly, you feel a bit cheated. Not to mention a little confused.

So sir. You mean to say, on the whim of your too-clever-by-half Blumenthally bonkers master baker or your too-mean-by-half profit chasing boss, you’ve gone easy on the meat and wild with the corn?

What nonsense. This will not do.

A steak and cheese pie is exactly that. A steak and cheese pie. A pie comprising steak and cheese.

I reconsidered any future plans I may have had of taking up Muffin Break’s coffee offer on the spot. Whatever next, bits of Kiwi fruit in your cappuccino? I perish the very thought.


Sun Shines On The Black Clouds Hanging Over The Domain

Bollocks. An hour’s cricket commitments work up in smoke thanks to this hopeless cod-Word app I’ve recently downloaded being utterly, utterly hopeless. The portentous cloud cover is telling me something.

Four days bright sunshine replaced by a fire blanket of grey. My now daily Brew With A View trip to Alfrescoes has not been particularly successful today.

Bon Jovi, Simply Red and all manner of ropey Rat Pack covers make for a miserable musical experience. The gorgeous Pom waitress steadfastly keeps deputing her six-pints-and-you-might colleague to look after me. Red balloons and half-wicked candles spoil an otherwise fine view. I hate Valenines Day, hate it. Still, as thoughts turn to Waikato and the start of five weeks or so of cricket, I will definitely miss this.

The view of Russell from Alfrescoes, Paihia. Car not author’s.

A Despatch From The Himalayas

Remember Lucky Paul? Course you do. Affable Yorkshireman, great taste in ale, pies and literature. Appreciates the value of an extravagant leave outside the off-stump and sports a beard Brian Blessed would covet.
Does the pre-match Test Match handshake superstition thing with me.

Yeah you do.

Anyway, while I’ve been gadding about in the Antipodes bleaching my hair, getting punched by girls, drinking effete beer, doodling crappy of pictures of wonderful landscapes and the like much befitting a stereotypical middle class, southern softie fop, Paul’s been doing some reet tough, real Yorkshire man stuff, tha knows. Proper travelling.

Trekking in Nepal. Up some bloody big hills. For four weeks.

It even got cold once he said.

Then he went to a jungle with real animals with just a stick of bamboo for protection. He saw some big dangerous buggers too; rhinos, elephants and crocodiles.
I saw a small brown bird with a Morrissey quiff on my nature walk yesterday.

Allowing himself a day off, our man in Kathmandu headed for an afternoon’s international football at the Dasarath Rangasala Stadium for the match between Nepal and Pakistan.


The atmosphere was good. Borrowing heavily from the Indian Cricket Supporters’ How To Be A Real Fan Book, chants never got above the two-syllabled, high-decibel ‘Nep-al, Nep-al’, Mexican Waves cascaded around the two thirds full ground as the locals vociferously got behind their team.
The pitch resembled the Sir Viv Richards Stadium eight balls in, circa February 2009 (Hello Ben! Hello Dan!) which didn’t do a lot for the football, which needed all the help it could get. A lot of rolling around and play acting went on and sometimes a game of football threatened to break out. It seldom did.

As a man who’s spent a lot of time watching Sheffield Wednesday (Hello HT Nige!) and York City, Paul knows rubbish football when he sees it. Nepal v Pakistan was a pertinent example of this.

My beloved Luton, the Mighty Hatters, would hammer both teams according to our correspondent. Which as a barometer of quality says quite a lot.
And the result of the match?

Football lost.

I meet up with Lucky Paul for a Ferg Burger and a pint in Queenstown for the pre-Test Match Series England friendly before heading on to Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland for three weeks among the Barmy and the Beige.
Looking forward to it fella. Go well.

Words Are Very Unnecessary

Today’s Happy Hour brew-with-a-view followed a six kilometre coastal trek to the blissfully under appreciated Opua, a mountain-framed port town among the Bay of Islands known for its car ferry to Russell but worth a lot more in terms of unforgettable tranquility. Pleased with myself after discovering this gem of a place, I stalked briskly back along the winding paths and drought ridden forestry for, I reckoned (probably wrongly) a well-deserved beer.

The irksome Nova-Scotian preparing my Monteith’s gave me short shrift. “Walked to Opua? Yeah I ran that this morning.”

“Yeah, while you laboured comically like a noxious human melange of Ray Mears, Neil Oliver and (as always) Alan Partridge, I pissed it like a mountain-munching Chris Brasher. Have that, weakling.”

He didn’t say that. But his deportment did. And he’s clearly knocking off that lush bird from yesterday.


As the seething resentment boiled within my blood, Enjoy The Silence by Depeche Mode kicked in.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Thank goodness for great British music.

And great Kiwi views. Paihia and The Bay of Islands will take some beating.