Backing the Black Caps

The University Oval will tomorrow host its sole day of international cricket this summer, a one...
The University Oval will tomorrow host its sole day of international cricket this summer, a one-day international between the New Zealand and Bangladesh men's teams. Photo ODT files.
It is a blink-and-you-will-miss-it sort of summer for international cricket fans in the South.

While grounds further north - particularly the Bay Oval, in Mount Maunganui - have had a feast of top action this season, thanks to the tours of Sri Lanka and India, Dunedin's picturesque University Oval is very much relegated to hoovering up the crumbs.

Kane Williamson. Photo: Getty Images
Kane Williamson. Photo: Getty Images
The Logan Park ground will tomorrow host its sole day of international cricket this summer, a one-day international between the New Zealand and Bangladesh men's teams.

It would be mean to focus too heavily on the frustration of Dunedin being all but ignored by the international schedule makers, and churlish to list the reasons why fans should NOT part with their hard-earned cash to attend the game.

Nevertheless, there may be significant contributing factors to this clash being something of a tough sell.

Rightly or wrongly, a large section of the potential audience - let's call them the casual fans - will have weighed up their decision on whether or not to invest in a ticket partly on the strength of opposition.

Some may feel the Bangladeshis are, well, not quite on the level of India or England. They are not wonderful tourists, certainly, having lost all 13 one-day internationals they have played in New Zealand, and they lack star power in the absence of wonderful all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.

So, too, will the series situation be potentially off-putting for those eager to see a titanic clash at the Oval.

It always seemed likely the Dunedin ODI would be a dead rubber and that has come to pass, the Black Caps cruising to victory in each of the first two internationals.

The day of the week? Another black mark. A midweek game might be fine for students, retired fans and those able to take the day off, but it is next to useless for families and most employed people, especially as the game is not a day-night affair due to the Oval's lack of lights.

Finally, there was a hammer blow when New Zealand Cricket announced Black Caps captain Kane Williamson, a modern-day great, would not be playing in Dunedin.

Williamson apparently needs a rest. That is fine - he is the skipper, and his workload is hefty - but did it have to be the one game in Dunedin that he missed?

Now that the gripes are out of our system, let's revert to gush mode and appreciate what is still a major event for the city, and a sporting clash with plenty going for it.

International cricket, obviously, is a rarely sighted occurrence in this part of the world. The rarity factor alone is a solid reason to take your spot on the embankment.

This is the 10th one-day international at the University Oval. The Black Caps have played there seven times, and won the lot. It's something of a fortress, so let's help keep it that way.

And it's the Black Caps. Next to the All Blacks, this is the national side that excites New Zealanders the most.

Williamson aside, your heroes are going to be in our city. Martin Guptill is now the drawcard, on the back of consecutive ODI centuries, but don't forget master batsman Ross Taylor, exciting fast bowler Lockie Ferguson or the others.

It's a World Cup year, so while this game in isolation might not mean a huge amount, every minute on the pitch is vital for these players seeking to nail down their selection or stay in form for the tournament.

Finally, it's Orientation Week. Let's see if the scarfies can help create some atmosphere and guide the Black Caps to glorious heights.


 

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