Lunchtime on the first day of the Third Test at Eden Park. My decision is made for me at the catering stands. There’s only one option available. I’m sure England wished they’d have had their decision made for them two hours earlier as well, I muse as I hand over my six dollars.

Beef, bacon & mushroom pie. My last Pie-Day Friday of the tour.

My first New Zealand pie on this visit, back in Northland, was pleasingly ovular in shape. This one, however, is sadly, squarely square. Except for the lid. Which looks like its been rolled by a work experience kid. In a sweatshop. The pastry is far too pernickety as a result and the colour looks over-egged while the whole thing has been finished with a sprinkle of black pepper, possibly to distract the eater from the shoddy pastrymanship.
There is a salty inevitability to the flavour of the filling, owing to the generous use of, what appears to be, decent quality bacon. The beef is the right side of under-done and the mushrooms, always a welcome addition to most meals, are similarly enjoyable. It’s hard, saltiness not withstanding, to fault the contents of the pie. It is good, and the pie is pleasingly packed with the meat and mushrooms.
However, that pastry again spoils things. There is too much of it and it is too thick. The pie feels and looks smaller as a result.

It feels like a sad way to end my latest pie odyssey in this great country. Yet as “Two Metre” Peter Fulton peerlessly powered to his maiden Test century with his country only one wicket down for 250 runs at the close of play, I fear my last few days here could end similarly badly.

Postscript. As I went to pay for my lunch the helpful, harmless assistant enquired, “Just the pie?”

I took a deep breath.

“Madam, it is not just a pie. It is an institution.”