Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Black Clash

Friday dawned, and the reason we’d come to Christchurch was finally here: the Black Clash cricket match. This is a T20 match between the Black Caps and the All Blacks.

But that’s not until the afternoon. In the morning, we decided to take a tour around the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. They’re in Hagley Park (everything is in Hagley Park – the cricket ground is there, too), so we walked from our motel to the park. They have all the usual stuff – glass houses, rose garden, New Zealand section, and rock garden; we perambulated these in no particular order, including a stop for refreshment at their cafĂ©. The plants in the rock garden, in particular, were attracting a lot of bees.

We spent all morning there then headed into the city once again to find somewhere to eat lunch. Our map of Christchurch had clearly marked “shopping and restaurant” areas delineated, so we headed for one of these and ended up in a restaurant called Original Sin, where we had salads of prawn and seared beef.

In the late afternoon, we set out for the Hagley Park Oval for the cricket match. Now, you might think that the All Blacks would have a bit of a disadvantage here, but there were a number of tweaks to the teams that evened things up a bit. Each team was allowed to pick a player from the other sport, and the qualification rules were very relaxed, such that Brendon McCullum opened for Team Rugby as he'd turned out a few times for Matamata. Both teams featured a player from their respective women’s teams as well – Liz Perry for Team Cricket and Kendra Cocksedge for Team Rugby. Both teams included current and former players from their respective sports – notably, Team Rugby featured Richie McCaw, as well as two Barretts (Beauden and Jordie).

The match was advertised as starting at 4:30, but was clearly underway by the time we arrived, so I guess they must have pulled it forwards by 10 minutes or so, and the score was already 23/1 when we found a suitable patch of grass to view from. We hadn’t brought any of our usual paraphernalia (cushions, keep cups, scorebook etc) so just plonked down on the grass. Shortly afterwards a group further up the bank from us decided to move elsewhere so we were able to snaffle their spot and get a better view than the worm’s eye position we’d started in.

Whilst the game was hard fought, there weren’t going to be any shenanigans – when there was a run out, the player walked without waiting for a replay, no review system for lbw etc. There was some good cricket, including batting from the Barretts, bowling from McCaw, and some spectacular catches (McCaw again). Having batted first, Team Cricket set a target of 169 for Team Rugby, and they made it with five balls to spare.

All jolly good fun! Next morning we were back to Wellington, and ready for some proper, real cricket on Friday when the Firebirds try to redeem their somewhat patchy season. They can technically reach the playoff if both the Stags and the Aces lose their next two matches and the Firebirds win both of theirs…so they need to beat the Stags on Friday.

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