Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fixing the Basin

According to the vacuous New Zealand news website, Stuff, the Basin Reserve is shabby and needs a makeover.

Well no shit.

The Basin Reserve is shabby. As a visitor from overseas, I was struck with how provincial it was. On top of any earthquake strengthening works, it needs better general admission seating and floodlights (seriously, even the WACA has lights) for starters. Then overall logistics (some kid holds a piece of string restricting the movements of spectators during overs, true story) needs some major attention. But it’s shabby because someone, or a group of someones, have neglected it to the point that it got shabby.

Then there’s the issue of the flyover, a road that has been proposed to ease traffic congestion in the area. I’m not going to pretend to be fully informed to make an opinion on this, though generally speaking I’m pro-infrastructure (and I hate traffic), but many are calling for this sweet little cricket ground to be downgraded or struck off the map because improvement works are expensive and it’s in the way.

But cricket-mad locals freaking love the Basin Reserve (and the fact Test cricket is played there). To an outsider, it’s a little bizarre, but they do. In true Kiwi style they are proud of it, and they love it for its flaws, not in spite of them. (In fact most would probably disagree with me for saying it even needs work, so I’m probably entirely alone here in my views.) If someone offered to steamroller the WACA and replace it with something better, I’m fairly surely the prevailing Perth attitude would be at last, we deserve better. But in NZ, this is not usually so.

For example, after the Canterbury earthquakes, people petitioned, lobbied and literally begged for critically-damaged buildings to be repaired, not replaced. If a building has to be earthquake strengthened or rebuilt, I guarantee they will choose strengthening, even if it cost more than rebuilding. Kiwis like things just as they are. It’s their shtick. Further, a rugby stadium was prioritised for repair over houses and other important city infrastructure, some of which took years to complete, if it’s even done yet... But it's cool to let the Basin go?

And here we arrive at the crux of the matter.

Cricket, particularly Test cricket, is but a blip on the horizon of sport in New Zealand. Many people love the Basin, unfortunately just not enough with the power to do anything about it. Many more would sooner discard the country’s primary Test cricket spot than improve it. But it would be so wrong to downgrade or throw away a nice ground because the All Blacks don’t play there. And that is, really, what this comes down to.