New Zealand Tour 2013

Onions Make You Cry

Morning everyone

We are actually still in Queenstown, despite the comments on my last report.

The four day warm up game between England and New Zealand Second XI has just finished.

Day one of the game was largely uneventful.

On Day two, I rose at 8.30am.

Breakfast with Lofty consisted of Wattie's (Heinz in disguise) beans and sausage on toast - Wattie's cans have eleven sausages in them, compared to the measly eight we get in the UK.

We caught the bus to the ground and I spent the morning sunbathing on a grass bank with Dan from Eccles, apart from a brief interlude chatting to, and having my photo taken with, Bumble.

Lofty went to purchase a Wellington ticket for our Addis mate Martin, then spent the rest of the day cowering in the covered stand away from the ferocious sun.

He was also trying to grab hold of Graeme Swann to sign a copy of his autobiography, which Lofty had purchased some weeks earlier.

Eventually Swann emerged and Lofty rushed over with his book.

"Have you started reading it yet?" said Swanny.

"Not yet" Lofty replied.

"Well, once you start it, you wont be able to put it down!" said the ever modest spinner, as he duly autographed the book!

At lunch, I went round to the other grass bank just too late for the free delivery of food from the Pog Mahone pub - a kind of Barmy Army Red Cross hamper - the greedy bastards had already scoffed it all, although Posh Margaret saved me a sandwich and a sausage roll and I found an apple still left in the bottom of the basket.

In the afternoon, more sunbathing, and at tea a game of cricket on the pitch with Lord Halifax , Charlie, Dan and some of their backpacker friends in which I was absolutely f*cking useless, kept wicket badly, and was out first ball (clean bowled) when I batted.

After the game a quick shower and change, then down to the Pog Mahone for drinks initially with the Barmy Army guys including Billy, Phil and Sam, and later the Howzat brigade including Lofty, Posh Margaret, Bob, Dave, Steve, Richard, Mick, Red Nigel and Helen, and Terry and June (real name Michelle).

In addition to the cheap drinks on offer at this pub we have also been given a loyalty card which refunds 10% on all purchases.

I was especially delighted when the Howzat brigade agreed to pay their whole wine and meal bill, amounting to $3,478 (I think they were drinking Chateau Du Ponce or something equally expensive) using our loyalty card.

This means in effect that Lofty and I will have a few free pints of working-class swill to sustain us later in the weekend.

Posh Margaret is kindly hosting a barbecue later this week to which Lofty and I have been invited. I have even ironed a shirt.

The conversation now turned as to which of Richard or Lofty needed a haircut most badly.

They both look like bad hair cases if I'm being honest and could both do with a good crew-cut - Lofty especially now looks like a superannuated Dungeon Master after at least six weeks without seeing scissors.

Nigel and myself have been constantly goading him to have his hair cut, to no effect.

Lofty won't listen, because we both support Manchester United, and he is a Leeds fan, and he retired early to the motel in a huff.

Several more beers and wines were consumed and after such a nice evening and excellent company I was in a very good mood as Nigel, Helen and myself caught the last bus up the road to our respective motels.

My mood turned to alcohol-induced cosmic bliss as the bus set off, and the drivers stereo system kicked in.

"And You and I", by YES!

I didn't want to get off the bus at my stop, and in front of an astonished and giggling Nigel and Helen, kissed the bus drivers hand as I eventually dismounted.

I should add I suppose, it was a lady bus driver.

After such an excellent day as this I thought I should send a nice, 'wish you were here' type text message to a few of my friends in the UK - what a mistake that was!

Over the next hour, I received a whole lexicon of loathing and abuse in response.

Talk about slander, libel, and words I never heard in the bible. I got the bloody lot.

Thank you Doubter of Dobcross, PC Tintin, Tremers, and Steve Higgy especially, for teaching me a whole new vocabulary of expletives.

Anyone might think that you were not pleased that I am enjoying myself!

Day three of the game followed a similar pattern to the above, with the exception of the appearance of a large Callaway Golf 'driving tent' on the top of the grass bank.

This was a promotion hosted by ex-cricketer Craig McMillan, and most of us had a go at bashing the golf ball into the back of the safety net.

During the afternoon Steven Finn came for his turn. Lining up for his first shot, he swung mightily, and slapped the golf ball ineffectually out of the bottom of the club.

David Saker was watching this, and cackled "Ha! 63 metres, Finny! You sure got a good piece of that one, mate!"

Finn's next drive was hit so hard, the whole tent collapsed in a heap.

The weather later turned cloudy and cold, and my mood was not lifted by the news that Old Trafford cricket ground has now sold out to 'Emirates' for a reported £10 million.

A little message for the suits and money men now running the place - you can only sell your soul to the devil once.

If you wanted a truly suitable sponsor for Old Trafford, 'Aquascutum' would have been much more appropriate.

Neither I, nor anyone else I spoke to at this game, have any intention of ever referring to our ground as anything other than plain 'Old Trafford.'

On this gloomy note we left the ground early to get ready for Posh Margaret's barbecue - to showcase the lovely house she and her friends are staying in overlooking the lake.

The view from their balcony has apparently been compared to 'Bethlehem' with the twinkling lights of Kelvin Heights in the distance, but wise men were as scarce as rocking horse droppings at this social gathering.

A disgraceful amount of wine was consumed by the sixteen or so people present, accompanied by music provided by DJ Midnight - Cat Stevens, The Stone Roses, The Small Faces, Carole King, and most popular of all - Petula Clark!

Many thanks to Posh Margaret for hosting the event, Bob for cooking the wonderful food, and Richard, Dave and Steve for, as they put it, "staying out of the way!"

As I'm sure you may imagine, the final day of the warm-up game started with a hangover of terminal proportions for me, and I did not get to the cricket ground until after lunch.

On meeting the Howzat gang on the grass bank, the true extent of last night's carnage was revealed.

Their empty bottle count included 27 (twenty-seven) bottles of wine, in addition to the various bottles of beer and other sundries that had been slurped.

The game progressed to an exciting conclusion, with New Zealand Second XI beating England Test XI in the final couple of overs thanks to a superb innings by BJ Watling.

England 'blown away', some might say.

Regular readers will know that I do not normally go in for statistics, but the bowling analysis of Graham Onions deserves a mention.

Match figures: 38 Overs. 3 Maidens. 1 Wicket. 218 Runs.

Diced, chopped and fried. I suspect another England bowlers Test career has ended in New Zealand.

The Barmy Army contingent were not at the ground today to witness the thrilling climax of the cricket match, as they had already arranged a trip to watch the New Zealand PGA Golf tournament in Arrowtown, thinking no doubt that the cricket match would by now be over!

This now looks like a very Barmy piece of planning indeed, with hindsight. Lets hope it doesn't become par for the course!

I will report again from Dunedin, where the weather forecast looks exceedingly grim - long periods in the pub are predicted......

Love, Midnight xxx

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