New Zealand Tour 2008

Chance meeting at Taupo "Airport"

Kia Ora all

The day we left Taupo will long live in the memory.

Simon had failed the weigh in for a sky-dive, coming in at 105kg as opposed to the legal maximum of 100kg despite a day off the beer and only having three large steaks for his dinner the night before.

As such adrenaline sports wise he had to content himself with two bungy jumps and a spot of jet-boating before our flight in the afternoon.

Simon was first into the airport, if I may describe it as such because it looked more like the landing strip in Where Eagles Dare minus the Alps, snow and control tower.

No sooner had he walked in than he was on his way out again. “Don’t stare but there is a celebrity on our flight".

We could hardly contain our excitement. Madonna perhaps, or Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osborne, who we knew were doing a show in Wellington at Easter??

Even better.

It was none other than Sir Geoffrey Boycott, his partner, and another chap who I presume was his minder, although he looked more like a Tetley Tea Bag man.

I took the opportunity to have my photo taken with the great man, which prompted a veritable orgy of flashing and posing from the assembled other seven passengers on the flight to Wellington who followed suit.

"Ah should start charging $5 each for this" said Sir Geoff.

Except Simon.

"Do you mind if I don’t have my photo taken with you Sir Geoffrey. I’ve only got one shot left in me camera and I’m hoping Marcus Trescothick shows up here". "

Fat chance at a foreign airport!!

No such reservations from George, who hails from Yorkshire originally, and prostrated himself before the great one trying to shine his shoes with his tongue - even though he was wearing Hush Puppies.

Sir Geoff was in talkative mood and I engaged him as follows.

Sir GB. " What part of Yorkshire you from, son?"

Al. " Lancashire, Sir Geoff, and I’m 50 years old"

Sir GB. " Now then, Aah see thas weering some o that Barmy Army clobber. Wots all tha singing abaht? I cannot understand it - just borin and repetetive"

I explained what fuelled the singing i.e. alcohol.

"And wharra bout that trumpeter fella. Where is e"

Billy hadn’t been there at Hamilton but we knew he was arriving for Wellington. I explained that Billy was classically trained and worked for the LSO.

" AAAh, but canee play Memories by Barbara Streisand – that’s a proper song tharris – that’s my fayvorite". He meant The Way We Were.

This was stored. Then Sir GB went on to tell us he now lived in Jersey - cue more fawning & grovelling by George, who was one step away from obtaining his inside leg measurement, address and phone number in St Helier - and Sir GB agreed central contracts for our pampered cricketers should be abolished.

When Sir GB got home to Jersey he was going to "Dig out all Harmison’s figures for the past four years - and they wont make pretty reading "to use in his column in the Telegraph and on radio.

Sir GB is also an avid Manchester United supporter, like your reporter!

His football view "We should've signed that Torres, instead of that Tevez" - brilliant insight. Except I suppose Liverpool have signed him already.

After an epic and scenic flight (too) close to three volcanoes we arrived in Wellington and parted company with our new friend, who wished us well for the test.

The following day we arrived at the Basin reserve, which is simply a terrific venue. Lots of atmosphere & history, grass bank filled with BA and beer a-plenty.

I saw Billy the trumpeter close to where we were sitting and mentioned our encounter at Taupo. Billy is usually good for a laugh and explained he had been playing the very song at some kind of recital the week before he came to NZ.

Thus it was that about 4.10pm during a quiet period of play the strains of "Memories, like the corners of my mind" wafted across the Basin reserve.

We don’t know (but will find out) if this reached its target but George was listening to his radio and Jonathan Agnew certainly heard it.

"AAAh -- the way we were--lovely-- I never thought I would hear that at a test match.......!!!"

If only he knew, eh?

I will update further on the actual match during next report as the computer I’m using -- at the Quest on the Terrace, Wellington - is about as useful as a chocolate fireguard and I don’t wish to spend another hour out of the pub with nothing to show for it.




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