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Reaching the heights in Auckland

Posted in England in New Zealand 2008

Well, it seems that I have an aversion to simple travel. Why do something straightforward when you can jump through hoops, take wrong turns, run for flights and generally look a little confused?

To be honest, I think most England fans were a little confused after Tuesday's display in Hamilton. A real story of Jekyll & Hyde played before our eyes as Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen looked a million dollars prior to the rain break. Once the players returned to the field, the wheels didn't just fall off, they positively jumped ship and rolled off down the street before catching fire in a small back alley. The squad was devastated.

But there was little time for reflection. A session of dressing room honesty was followed by another flight. This I made just in time, although flying in a tube of smarties was not the perfect antidote to an evening of disappointment. On it was to Auckland, the scene of Twenty20 triumph, and with the storm clouds gathering both in the air and in the press, there is certainly a sense of judgement day approaching.

This has been reflected in the practice sessions prior to tonight's encounter. Heavy training in rain storms and high winds have shown the determination of the side, which Kevin Pietersen echoed in his interview on ECBtv. Indeed, the sentiments were crystal - time to deliver.

Well, as the players completed final preparations this morning, I was off with camera in hand to the SkyTower, the tallest building in the southern hemisphere and basically a viewing gallery across the city of Auckland. Oh, and if the mood takes you, you can hurl yourself off the top - stopping to pause for a quick photograph. To give you some idea, the building is taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

As it was, into the lift I went and up to the top. I'd like to say it is me throwing myself unabashedly into oblivion on ECBtv, but sadly there would have been no one to film so I had to decline. However, the views are absolutely magnificent, and I decided that spying the Queen Victoria cruise ship was a good omen for England in the third ODI. You can catch ECBtv's guide to Auckland and the SkyTower online now.

I am loathe to say I have a positive feeling about this match, as by the time you read this the outcome will be resolved. However, one thing I can near-guarantee is a performance far above the level of the first two matches. The England fans that have made the trip certainly hope so.

On a stranger note, I have recently learnt that the rock 'n' roll band Oasis were on the flight which England took out to New Zealand a few weeks ago. Graeme Swann, being an avid Oasis fan, was sat next to Liam Gallagher, who I understand was in excellent mood and gave the team plenty of support.

Luke Wright was unfazed: "Swanny now owes me a huge favour, I swapped seats with him. After he begged!"

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