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Time for a bit more cricket. It's 2013 and England are touring New Zealand for the 2nd time since we moved here. Last time around back in 2008, we were only able to watch the matches played in Wellington, both the Test and the ODI. This time around, we decided to push the boat out and go down to Dunedin to watch the First Test as well as watch the Basin Reserve Test in Wellington. The ground in Dunedin is a pleasant tree-lined oval located close to both the new rugby stadium (Forsyth Barr Stadium) and the University. The University gives the ground its name - the University Oval. We headed down to Dunedin on the Friday knowing that we should see full days of play on the Friday, Saturday and hopefully the Sunday after day one on the Wednesday had been rained out.

At no point during the Test was the weather fantastic - it was pretty overcast for most of the match, but there were no interruptions in the time we were down there, so we had no complaints. It must have seemed like a home Test for the England team, given that the English fans seriously outnumbered the locals. In fact, I suspect there were more Barmy Army members there than fans of the Blackcaps. Still, New Zealand made a good fist of the game. On the Thursday, they'd bowled out England for a paltry 167 - mainly due to some injudicious shot selection, but Neil Wagner and Bruce Martin bowled well for New Zealand. When we turned up on the Friday, Peter Fulton was not out on 46 and debutant Hamish Rutherford had amassed 77 not out. Fulton was soon dismissed by a good catch from Matt Prior of James Anderson, but Rutherford went on to compile an excellent 171 before giving it away to a poor shot off Anderson. New Zealand put together 460 - 9 and declared, leaving England 300 runs short of making New Zealand bat again. The remainder of the Test was a rather turgid affair as the England batsmen showed much greater application and defended to save the Test. Alastair Cook scored 116 from 252 balls, Nick Compton 117 from 310 and nightwatchman Steve Finn blocked out for over 2 sessions to score 56 off 203 balls. The match ended with England 421 - 6 and the Test was drawn. It could have been a real nailbiter of a finish if the first day hadn't been washed out. So, honours were even moving into the Second Test at the Basin Reserve.

The Second Test was a real reversal of fortunes. England stacked up a score of 465 all out, mainly thanks to tons from Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott. In reply, New Zealand were bowled out for only 254. Stuart Broad put in a solid performance to take 6 wickets and only Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling scored over 50. New Zealand were forced to follow on and were 162 for 2 and still under pressure, but the rains came in and washed out the final day, leading to another draw.

As an aside, thanks to Ian and Helen Dent for giving us free accommodation in Dunedin, as well as showing us some of the nicer craft beer pubs in the City. Cheers, guys!

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Top Left: This one is from Dunedin. New Zealand are batting early on the 3rd day (2nd day if you exclude the rained out day). Jimmy Anderson is bowling and Peter Fulton is the non-striker.

Top Right: From the next day in Dunedin. Brendon McCullum is batting and aiming for quick runs and a declaration. Looks like he's about to wear the cricket ball on his thigh as a result.

Right: From later the same day. New Zealand are now fielding, England are batting. Not many scoring shots were being played, but plenty of deliveries were being left alone to go through to the keeper, BJ Watling.
I found it, I found it and it was THIS big!!
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I found it, I found it and it was THIS big!! Top Left: Still Saturday, and this is Alastair Cook blocking the ball. We saw plenty of this on the 4th and 5th days.

Top Right: New Zealand bowler Neil Wagner on the boundary between deliveries. I'm pretty sure he's trying to sign a few autographs for the kids, but also keeping an eye on the game at the same time. This was still in Dunedin.

Left: Down to the Saturday at the Basin Reserve, Wellington. This shows Monty Panesar's bowling action. The non-striker is BJ Watling, I think

Bottom Left: The England slips corden in the Basin Reserve Test. Three slips and a gully - a fairly attacking field which was fair enough given England were well on top at the time. In the background you can see a fairly busy crowd and the display of England football flags demonstrates just how many England fans had made the trip.

Bottom Right: The grass bank at the Basin Reserve. Absolutely packed, as it always is for England Test matches at the very least. Still, definitely the best seats in the house at the Basin.
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See also: Domestic Cricket

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