Howzat!

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Photos: Bruce Lim | Photosport.co.nz

The South Africa versus Zimbabwe game gripped us like few thought. While many were expecting a quick kill by the red-hot favourites, South Africa, the plucky unfancied Zimbabwe team won the early battle with the ball before stumbling late against some strong South African batting, but threatened again with the bat before ultimately pulling up short.

The weather was fine, the cricket entertaining and sometimes breathtaking, and Seddon Park has never looked better.

This month we see the World’s most supported sporting team in action – the Indian cricket team – up against the vibrant Irish at  Seddon Park. It will without a doubt be the most watched sporting event ever beamed out of Hamilton, if not New Zealand. It is expected that more than a billion people will tune in to this World Cup, many of them sub-continental fans hoping for an Indian victory.

And then it is New Zealand’s turn against Bangladesh. This match is sold out, and will hopefully see the home team continue its barn-storming run through the tournament. (This article was written in mid-February!)

It is terrific for the people of our region to be able to perhaps say goodbye to its greatest cricket product, champion Daniel Vettori. Daniel played all of his representative cricket in Hamilton and has grown into one of New Zealand’s true international sporting stars.  How fitting would it be to see him take some silverware in what may be his last international tournament?

Northern Districts Cricket also looks forward to seeing home-grown players Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Kane Williamson on the big stage. With Daniel Vettori, they make up the majority of the backbone of this Blackcaps team.

It is great to see the city abuzz with excitement around this tournament, as it should be.  Bringing high quality sport is so important to this city. A vast amount of money is injected into local businesses, and puts Hamilton on the World map.

A huge beneficiary of this tournament has been Seddon Park. Hamilton City Council has worked positively and proactively with ND Cricket to take advantage of the many opportunities that presented around this tournament. The result has been some significant improvements to infrastructure at the park that will provide a legacy for the community well into the future. The people of Hamilton should be proud of the efforts of their council.

It is indeed a truly beautiful and remarkable ground. Its steep grass banks, large scoreboard, imposing light towers, and finely managed playing surface all add up to an amazing spectator experience.  For those lucky enough to be coming to the remaining matches you will be in for a great time.

And can the home team win it? Only one team in the history of World Cups has won when playing at home. I see it pivotal that the Blackcaps finish top of their group, meaning they avoid the might of the South Africans and Australia until at least the final. That will more than likely mean defeating Australia in Auckland in late February is a must.

They have the players. They have the form. They have the support. Go you Blackcaps.

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