Former Australian and New Zealand cricket players have spoken out about their admiration for Eden Park, praising the Auckland venue for its famous atmosphere.
Greg ‘Mo’ Matthews, who starred for Australia during the 1980s, and former New Zealand star John Morrison both spoke about the stadium shortly after it played host to a thrilling Twenty20 encounter between the two national sides on Friday.
Australia produced an impressive run chase to beat New Zealand by five wickets, with a run score of 245/5 to the home team’s 243/6 coming with just one over and one bowl remaining.
Although New Zealand fans were left disappointed by the result, the atmosphere inside the stadium throughout the match was praised by Matthews, who played at the venue a number of times during his career.
“If it’s a Twenty20 match, the crowd enjoys sixes being hit; it makes it seem like a pretty good game,” Matthews said, according to the New Zealand Herald. “I don’t think you’ll see too many people in the crowd wanting their money back.”
Matthews’ comments come after veteran commentator Jim Maxwell criticised the venue, calling on the International Cricket Council to “ban” the stadium due to the size of the pitch.
The Eden Park boundary measures between 45m and 55m, depending on the pitch layout, meaning it can slip below ICC regulations of a recommended 55m. However, the venue is exempt from the role as it gained international status prior to the rule being introduced.
Hitting back at the comments, Morrison, who played for New Zealand from 1998 to 2013, said: “Everyone knows it’s a little bit short, so why state the obvious? It is so typical of the Aussies… They’ve been firing at other cricketing nations – like the Indians and the Poms – and congratulating themselves.
“I know you’ve got to say something for a living, but it was a good game – you were lucky enough to win – and it was highly entertaining. I’ve seen heaps of games in Australia that are a total bore.”
Eden Park Trust chief executive Nick Sautner also backed the venue, describing it as an “intimate setting and fan friendly boundaries make for one of the best cricket atmospheres in the world”.
Sautner added: “There wouldn’t be a player or spectator who attended Friday’s T20 fixture that left the Eden Park disappointed by the atmosphere, with 488 runs scored and 13 new world records set.
“Eden Park’s design guarantees an unmatched live cricket experience for fans at the ground or for those watching at home.”
In a further show of support, New Zealand Herald columnist Matt Heath called for the venue to host more non-sporting events, including music concerts.
Heath wrote that having visited other locations to see gigs by Paul McCartney and, more recently, the Foo Fighters, he said Eden Park is well suited to staging these sorts of events.
He added: “I live a hundred metres from Eden Park. It’s a great place to be. But it’s so quiet. It’d be great if we could get some more events in there. Games, gigs, gladiators – whatever.”