Blog| 16 March 2011 | Cricket for Christchurch

As a place to think about Christchurch, The Basin Reserve in Wellington could be inspirational. New Zealand's oldest cricket ground (first test match just 9 years before I was born) is a survivor of an earthquake, which turned an erstwhile inland harbour into a swamp.  Public demands and subscriptions ensured that the basin was reserved as a public playground, specifically for cricket, where 51 test matches have now been played. Will the people of Christchurch make their demands?

One way out of misery is to imagine the future. In city planning, I hope that there will be proponents of adventurous design, from the best practitioners at home or abroad. Make Christchurch an architectural wonder of the modern world. I managed to say as much to Mayor Parker when we met on Sunday at the charity cricket match organised by Stephen Fleming and others, including Mark Hadlow. These dwarves get everywhere.

The Prime Minister and the British High Commissioner were also there. Even so, I was, technically, the most important person at the match: I was the Referee! Martin Freeman was one of four umpires and he and I shared pre-match nerves. I was relieved that my duties were not much called upon, apart from witnessing the coin-tossing and briefly refereeing from square-leg in my deckchair and panama and being almost sliced in half by a wicked hook of a shot from John Key. "PM attacks Wizard". Even as a fan of Helen Clark, I couldn't take it personally. The PM wasn't trying to hurt me: he was just desperate to score a boundary off easy balls from Shane Warne and collect $100,000 dollars reward for the Christchurch Fund. Which he did and good on him and everyone else who turned out to play.

Martin Crowe, supported by cousin Russell, captained the winning Canterbury Team but for once the score was less important than the evident good spirits of the 10,000 basking in the sun and the sight of the cricketing luminaries. The Jacksons and Philippa Boyens watched it enthusiastically at home, on the box. For benighted viewers in Christchurch, perhaps it was a welcome glimpse of their own future, a time when they too can bask in the sun and simply enjoy the day.


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