English invade Seddon park

Dedicated follower of cricket laps up the sun

IAN ANDERSON AND SIENA YATES
Last updated 08:52 12/02/2013
 Allan Ashworth
Mark Taylor/FAIRFAX NZ

Living the dream: Allan Ashworth spends his retirement travelling between New Zealand and England to follow his favourite sport.

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Over 8000 fans will need to keep their eyes peeled and hands ready at Seddon Park.

The opening match of the Twenty20 cricket series between New Zealand and England at Eden Park on Saturday night saw 23 sixes fly over the boundary and further fireworks can be expected tonight.

The last T20 international at the venue last year saw hulking South African opener Richard Levi plunder 13 of the 22 sixes scored under lights. The previous week there were 21 sixes when the Black Caps just snuck past Zimbabwe as 402 runs were scored, and with a hard, quick wicket prepared by turf manager Karl Johnson, big-hitting should be a regular feature tonight (7pm start).

The TAB will be wary, too - they set their line for total sixes in the opening match at 12.5 and saw that number passed just after the midway stage of the England innings. Tonight they're asking punters if the tally will go under or over 13.5.

While the rope at Seddon Park is further from the wicket in most places than at Eden Park, it's still a tempting target for a plethora of plunderers in both teams.

The shortest boundary at the ground is back over the bowler's head towards the southern end - measuring 60 metres from the middle of the wicket, while the longest - straight towards the pavilion - is 65 metres, with a three-metre allowance required for the rope to be placed away from the picket fence for safety reasons.

Seddon Park's capacity for internationals is approximately 10,000, with over half that number of tickets sold by yesterday with strong sales expected today, along with a walk-up crowd thanks to a fine weather forecast.

The host team spilled five catches at Eden Park on Saturday - tonight's fans may get their chance to display their superior handling skills.

Dedicated follower of cricket laps up the sun

After retiring 20 years ago, Briton Allan Ashworth went from television service engineer to professional cricket fan - a fulltime job which has taken him around the world.

Starting off in Australia, he soon "got a bit fed up with it", crossed the ditch and has since been to New Zealand 11 times in the past 12 years.

"That's got to be something of a record," he laughed. "It's always good to avoid those harsh English winters. But the big attraction for me is how friendly Kiwi people are."

In New Zealand for his 22nd consecutive summer, he's staying in the heart of Hamilton city, bought his game tickets from the Garden Place i-Site and spends all his spare time at the city library, reading up on our cricketing history.

So as it stands, he's a bit unsure who he's cheering for these days.

"I'm English born and bred, but for the last 11 years I've been watching the Black Caps in New Zealand so I don't know who I'm cheering for. I'm a bit divided, but I can't lose, can I?"

Does that mean the Black Caps are in with more of a chance than most Kiwis are giving them?

"Unfortunately not," he said. "The Black Caps will definitely have difficulty with the test matches."

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- Waikato

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