The England v New Zealand Test series may be over but there’s still a huge amount of cricket to come over the next few weeks and months.
Heather Knight’s side are in action against India down in Bristol, while the Sri Lanka T20 series is set to get underway next week, and the World Test Championship Final started today.
While the result wasn’t ideal, the two-Test series against the Kiwis proved a fantastic curtain-raiser for a blockbuster summer – though it was gutting to not have the Beige Brigade over for it.
They were greatly missed but we made sure to catch up with co-founder Paul Ford.
Last week he talked us through his favourite UK grounds but this week, he’s focussing on his home turf…
Basin Reserve, Wellington
“I live in Wellington and I absolutely love going down to the Basin. My son is at school right next door to the Basin at Wellington College, so I’m literally going past it a few times a week now.
“It’s an open reserve you can just walk through there any time of day or night. There’s something magical about heading down Kent or Cambridge Terrace and seeing the C.S. Dempsey Gate and you know that’s the guy who got the first hundred for New Zealand.
“You might’ve had a beer at the pub down the road, the Cambridge Hotel, and then you go in there and it’s just this beautiful oval. It’s used for other things but it’s a cricket ground – it’s got the cricket museum, they’ve just redone the stand there, it’s got a magnificent embankment.
“As you go round on the ground there are little plaques that remind you of these memories – Martin Crowe scoring 299, the McCullum 300 – so you’ve got this series of entrenched memories.
“It’s still one of these grounds where at lunchtime you can go and frolick on the field, you can still get out there and play backyard cricket. I think that’s just a magical place to be.
“There are lots of happy memories. The Beige Brigade certainly forged many magnificent days on the embankment. We’ve met guys from the Barmy Army there and kept in touch with them – it is a real cricket lovers ground I guess.”
The Clifton County Cricket Club, Te Awanga
“It’s a tiny little ground that’s 30 minutes from Napier in a little settlement called Te Awanga.
“It’s on a farm, so you can’t see it from the road. You go down a gravel road, swing round a couple of corners and then there is this beautiful vista and it’s this tiny little village ground with nice little club rooms, rolling hills, and they’ve put a little artificial pitch down.
“I know that there are lots of rich blokes that probably set up boutique cricket grounds in the UK but this is one that the community have done. 300 local families have contributed to making it this really special place.
“Little kids come and play, and they let idiots like us come in and have a hack around on their every few months.
“The Clifton County Cricket Club is definitely one that comes to mind.”
Seddon Park, Hamilton
“Seddon Park is home base for me. I grew up in Hamilton and Beige Brigade co-founder Mike Lane and I spent our formative years there, watching our mate from school Dan Vettori.
“The trajectory of the Beige Brigade and all the stuff we’ve got up to, Dan being in the team has been such a huge part of that. We went to school together back in the day and there’s nothing like watching your mate play for New Zealand and do really bloody well when you’re a cricket fan. It’s just the wickedest feeling.
“I remember going to Seddon Park as a kid actually, my dad took me to a Northern Districts game versus Auckland. We’d seen Graeme Hick play a few times but he didn’t come out to New Zealand this year, they’d got this new guy and we’d heard he was pretty good.
“It was Matthew Maynard, he and Shane Thompson went absolute blitzkrieg on the Auckland bowlers. I was about 7 or 8 and I just thought it was amazing, I was hooked for life.
“The cricket ground is really close to town, parking is easy, and it’s a beautiful cricket oval. It’s not far from the rugby stadium but it’s very much a placed filled with cricket fans, panel beaters and university students.”