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You start to realise you've spent a fair time in a particular country when you get to attend a cricket series featuring a touring team that you've already seen play once in that country. So it was that in late 2008, we went up to Napier to watch a couple of days of the 2nd Test between New Zealand and the West Indies. We'd already seen a couple of games between the two teams back in early 2006 when the West Indies played at both the Basin Reserve and the Westpac Stadium. Given a poor forecast for the Wellington area for the weekend, we ventured up North to sunny Napier.

The match hung in the balance throughout the game with the wicket at McLean Park once again proving to be a batting paradise. Centuries were scored by Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Tim McIntosh and Chris Gayle during the test whilst Petone's Finest, Iain O'Brien took 6 wickets in the first innings only to be outshone by Fidel Edwards who took 7 for the West Indies.

The game eventually tapered out into a tame draw late on the 5th day. The morning had dawned with all four results possible from the game, but the Kiwis let the West Indian tail score too many runs for them to effectively chase down. Once Brendan McCullum had been adjudicated out, caught behind having not hit the ball (despite, I might add, the use of the referral system) the game was pretty much over and the Kiwis had failed to chase down 314 in 60 overs.

Whilst in Napier, we stayed at the same hotel as the West Indian cricket team and the ICC officials. We bumped into various West Indians in the hallways of the hotel, and also former fast bowler for India, Javagal Srinath who was the match referee for the game.

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Top Left: From the 2nd day of the test. After an unspectacular session in the field, the West Indian players meander slowly off to the dressing rooms below the main stand. The players (from left to right) are Carlton Baugh (substitute fielder), Dinesh Ramdin (wicketkeeper), Xavier Marshall and Brendan Nash. Nash cut an unusual figure for the West Indies. His background is in Queensland, but both his parents are from Jamaica and so when he was dropped from the Queensland side in 2005, he made the decision to move to Jamaica and try for the West Indies. He had a successful debut series, scoring two fifties at number six.

Top Right: Aching muscles are manipulated by the West Indies physio and Chris Gayle stretches whilst having a chat with Carlton Baugh.

Right: Tim McIntosh made a century in only his second test for New Zealand. Mind you, he rode his luck. He was the beneficiary of the most ridiculous dropped catch I've seen in many a year. He skied a top edged pull shot and the bowler (Fidel Edwards) and the keeper (Dinesh Ramdin) both called for the ball. Both stopped and the ball dropped between them. McIntosh had 14 runs at the time and went on to make 130.
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: Wellington's Jeetan Patel warms up before the start of the West Indian second innings. Lucky he did warm up, because he went on to bowl over 40 overs of well flighted off-spin, snaring 5 wickets in the process. He also took the wicket of the usually sticky Shivnarine Chanderpaul first-ball as Shiv attempted to steer a full toss in the leg-side. Instead, he took the leading edge and looped a catch back to Patel.

Top Right: Petone's finest, Iain O'Brien. O'Brien took 6 wickets in the first innings. He seems a little bit eccentric, but in a good way. He posed for a photo with a big cheeky grin on his face, much to our amusement, but in this one he's just playing with his ball...

Left: Daniel Vettori before a little bit of pre-bat practise. 
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Top Left: The cricket ground at Napier. McLean Park. This ground is used for rugby from March to September and cricket for the rest of the year and is the home of Central Districts in the Cricket Provincial Championship and the Hawke's Bay Magpies in the Rugby. The grass bank at the Eastern end of the ground is less steep than the bank at the Basin Reserve and thus is a lot easier to sit on comfortably.

Top Right: One of the West Indian tourists takes control of the television camera outside the pavilion for a while. We're not sure who the budding cameraman is, but I suspect that it's Carlton Baugh.

Right: A closer view of the wicket itself. The pitch held up well over five days and was still ripe for batting on the fifth day as Chris Gayle and then Ross Taylor showed with some fantastic boundaries.
I found it, I found it and it was THIS big!!

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