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New additions to the England family

Posted in England in New Zealand 2008

Steve Harmison

© Getty Images

Encircled by trees and blessed with grassy embankments for spectators, The University Oval in Dunedin where England are playing their two warm-up matches is one of New Zealand’s most scenic cricket grounds.

Home to the Otago Volts, it is also the newest Test venue (the 96th ) in world cricket) – having staged the 1st Test between New Zealand and Bangladesh in January. But England will still be paying a visit to the famous Carisbrook rugby stadium – nicknamed the ‘House of Pain’ – which hosted an ODI on their last tour in 2002.

A group of players and management have been invited to watch local side, The Highlanders, take on The Waratahs in a Super 14 rugby clash this weekend.

Andrew Strauss is not the only English cricketer to have played domestic cricket in New Zealand this winter. Gloucestershire all-rounder and former England A captain Alex Gidman played a starring role for Otago earlier this week in their State Shield semi-final win over Canterbury making 81 from 83 balls and sharing in a decisive 126-run partnership with Black Caps wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum, who made an unbeaten 108.

Meanwhile his brother Will, who made his first class debut for Durham last summer and performed 12th man duties for England against West Indies at Chester-le-Street in the 4th Test, has been playing local league cricket in New Zealand for Taieri.

England’s ‘extended family’ continues to grow with Stephen Harmison and Paul Collingwood both celebrating new arrivals over the past fortnight. Harmison’s wife Hayley gave birth to their fourth child, Charlie, while Vicky Collingwood gave birth to the couple’s second daughter, Keira, last Sunday.

Regular readers of this blog will recall that Graeme Swann and James Anderson were the team’s travelling minstrels in Sri Lanka with a pair of acoustic guitars between them. The duo has now become a trio with Warwickshire wicket-keeper Tim Ambrose joining Swann and Anderson for strumming sessions.

Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen took advantage of a two-day rest from cricket during the recent tour match against Otago by taking a taxi-ride up one of the world’s steepest inclines, Baldwin Street in Dunedin.

But they didn’t climb the hill quite as quickly as one former England cricketer, Angus Fraser. The ex Middlesex pace-man claims to have run up the 1-in-3 gradient twice as part of a fitness drive when he was covering England’s tour here six years ago for The Independent. “Angus must have been in pretty good condition to run up a hill like that,” said Paul. “But I think he may have let his fitness go a little downhill since then!”

Meet the Management: The newest member of England’s management team on tour is Australian-born Mark Spivey, who acts as Strength and Conditioning Coach to the Senior England Teams and is based at the NCPC at Loughborough.

Originally from Melbourne, Mark moved to England in 1989 and spent spells with Bath and Bristol rugby clubs as their fitness trainer before returning to Australia to work with AFL clubs Geelong and Western Bulldogs.

He joined the English Institute of Sport in 2006 and his first role with the ECB was to work with England Lions in India before Christmas.

“My role is primarily to work with the centrally contracted England players,” explained Mark. “But also to keep in close contact with the strength and conditioning coaches from the First Class Counties to make sure that the players can get access to the best possible advice and monitoring when they are at home as well as on tour.”

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