While most talk this week in Queenstown has been about golf,
there has also been another first-class sporting event under
way and although the crowds are few, there is no denying
where the few are from.
This week, at the Queenstown Events Centre, the New Zealand
XI cricket side has been taking punishment from the English
side warming up for their test series against the Black Caps
starting in Dunedin next week.
Roaming among the crowd yesterday it was hard to spot any
semblance of a proud Kiwi fan, but there was plenty of
English support - identified by way of a reddish sun tan.
While English superstars Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Monty
Panesar sat content on the sidelines with a convincing score,
their fans basked in the sun and were vocal.
Several English groups acknowledged they had travelled to
support what they can now proudly claim as the second-best
test nation in the world.
I made the mistake of asking one pair of Englishmen if they
were Kiwis and got the quick sharp reply, ''Are we what?!''I
found one Christchurch couple, Joan and Richard Hancox, who
were happy to own up quietly during the lunch break they were
there for the home side.
They had inquired about following the cricket to Dunedin, but
were disappointed to find the entire city had been booked out
by the Barmy Army.
One English supporter who was among what was the best attempt
at the Barmy Army, Henry Wisson, sympathised with a New
Zealand cricket fan's situation.
''Kiwis love cricket and they are so passionate about it.
They are half the reason we come all the way over here,
because the Kiwis get so into it.''
''They deserve a good side and it's a shame when they can't
pull together a performance.''
Mr Wisson will follow England to Dunedin for the first test
at the University Oval and said he hoped for a competitive
series, similar to the one-day series.
''Let's hope that cricket is the winner.''