England supporters here for the long haul

Members of the England cricket team disperse after a group photo at the University Oval yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Members of the England cricket team disperse after a group photo at the University Oval yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Black Caps captain Kane Williamson bats in the nets. Photo: Christine O'Connor
Black Caps captain Kane Williamson bats in the nets. Photo: Christine O'Connor

It may have been raining in Dunedin, but it was better being here than being back there.

English accents could be heard around the city before today's one-day international between New Zealand and England at the University Oval.

Visiting English publican Chris Smythe gave Dunedin's hospitality a big thumbs-up, but its weather a big thumbs-down.

''It's fantastic, apart from the weather. It's like being back in England.''

Labelling Dunedin as fantastic is high praise, given the fanatical cricket fan has travelled to more than 100 countries.

Many of his trips - including his current one with friends Andrew Gilmour and Paul Adams - are to follow his beloved English cricket team.

Regularly supporting the side to all parts of the globe means there is good camaraderie between England's hardiest travelling fans and familiar faces for them to see wherever they go.

''A lot of the boys went home after Wellington but a few of them have come down here.''

Mr Smythe was on hand to support his team at the start of its Australasian campaign, but has returned home twice and also visited other countries.

There have been no such breaks for fellow Englishman Phil Middleton.

He arrived in Australia at the beginning of England's summer tour and has not left the team's side since.

''I left the UK on the 19th of November. There were three of us and we went to Australia for the Ashes,'' he said.

''I am retired but my two friends are still working so they just came over to New Zealand for the one-dayers.''

Mr Middleton also had glowing praise for Dunedin.

Its friendly locals and welcoming hospitality made his experience enjoyable and was in contrast to some other places the England team tour, he said.

Mr Middleton is another hardcore fan who treks to all corners of the globe to support the side.

''I have been to them all, the last five Ashes tours in Australia, all of the islands in the West Indies and next is Sri Lanka in October.''

Though the Dunedin weather did not turn it on yesterday, Mr Middleton is not complaining about a little bit of rain.

''I phoned England two days ago and they were digging the car out, there was a foot of snow and it was minus six [Cdeg].''

He is also hoping his side will brighten his day later this afternoon.

''Australia made a mess of us in the tests, but we won the one-dayers and I am expecting us to beat New Zealand, to be honest.''

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