Cricket: Preparations well in hand for Barmy Army

Workers assemble temporary seating for the test between New Zealand and England at the University Oval next month. Photo by Craig Baxter.It is a major logistical exercise to keep an army fed and watered.

But Otago Cricket Association chief executive Ross Dykes believes preparation is well in hand for the arrival of the Barmy Army.

England's most loyal band of fans is expected to flock to the first test between New Zealand and England at the University Oval which begins on March 6.

If history is any indication of how those fans will behave, it can be safely assumed they will sing an awful lot, and eat and drink plenty.

The supply lines have been secured and the OCA is hoping to sell up to 2000 dozen bottles of beer.

''At this stage, we are talking about 2000 dozen, which is quite a lot when you consider you've got to keep them all cold,'' Dykes said.

''That is another logistical exercise to be dealt with.''

Last summer, 700 dozen was sold during the first four days of the test between New Zealand and South Africa.

Dykes also estimated, among the 13 different food outlets which will be in operation during the test, as many as 12,000 pies could be consumed.

Somebody call a nutritionist.

The team at Otago cricket has some experience under its belt, having previously staged four tests at the venue. The test against England, though, is a big challenge, both for the Black Caps and for the management team which has to cater for all the expected extra spectators.

The media contingent alone is expected to number 130, and, with the eyes of the world on Dunedin, there is a lot at stake. But it is the elements outside Dykes' control which give him the most concern.

''We're just hoping for fine weather now,'' he said.

Work erecting the temporary stands, which will seat 2100, is well under way.

The capacity of the venue will rise from about 3500 to 5300. Dykes said New Zealand Cricket had advised him ticket sales were progressing nicely but he did not know exactly how many tickets had been sold.

''I'm very confident we will see it full during days one, two and three. It is quite likely days four and five could also be pretty attractive.''