Aus­tralian side brace for Eden Park ban­ter

The New Zealand Herald - - SUPER SPORT -

An­drew Alder­son

Aus­tralians have al­ways ex­pected the worst at Eden Park since they first met New Zealand in a one-day in­ter­na­tional there on Fe­bru­ary 13, 1982.

That match came just over a year af­ter The Un­der­arm in­ci­dent when Trevor Chap­pell rolled the last ball of a match in Mel­bourne down the pitch to Brian McKech­nie to pre­vent any chance of a six to tie.

No one had any idea of Eden Park’s ca­pac­ity in 1982, but the or­gan­is­ers kept print­ing tick­ets. The stands were so full, peo­ple climbed over the fence and sat in­side the bound­ary ropes. One bloke de­liv­ered a bowl­ing ball on to the arena as a protest against the vis­i­tors’ MCG an­tics.

The Eden Park crowd’s im­pact in tran­stas­man matches has never ceased. Pa­trons stormed the field when Martin Crowe made his cen­tury at the 1992 World Cup opener; fans moshed in eu­pho­ria when Kane Wil­liamson won the 2015 World Cup pool match by ham­mer­ing Pat Cum­mins over long on; Aus­tralia coach Dar­ren Lehmann got hit by a fish in 1998 but at least avoided com­ing face-to-face with a toi­let seat.

Yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, 28,000 tick­ets had been sold for tonight’s Twenty20 tri-se­ries match. That will be the park’s big­gest cricket crowd since the 2015 World Cup semi­fi­nal. The crowd has be­come New Zealand’s un­of­fi­cial 12th man.

Aus­tralian bats­man Aaron Finch was asked for anec­dotes about his two Eden Park ap­pear­ances.

“Prob­a­bly noth­ing I could men­tion,” he smiled. “They’re just pas­sion­ate, aren’t they? Once New Zealand get on top in a game, they [the crowd] be­come such a huge fac­tor.

“We saw in that World Cup game here. The crowd was un­be­liev­able. They get stuck into you, which cre­ates pretty good ban­ter at times.

“There is a lot of unimag­i­na­tive stuff as well, but it is a great place to play. The crowd feel right on top of you as well. We haven’t won here for a while [Aus­tralia have lost their last three ODIs].”

“Be­ing a small ground it makes you feel like ev­ery­one is be­hind you,” New Zealand opener Martin Gup­till said. “It’s al­ways good fun lis­ten­ing to the noise. It gives us a boost.”

Finch said as a smaller ground, it could cre­ate prob­lems else­where.

“You find that you start think­ing ev­ery­thing in bound­aries and sixes, as op­posed to just stick­ing to your game plan.”

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