Amazing locales, but will novelty stay?
How many universities in the world can boast of having vineyards and a winery on their grounds? Lincoln University, which has played host to the Indian team for their practice sessions is probably the most picturesque venue cricketers go through their paces on.
Well outside Christchurch, Lincoln is one of those places where time appears to stand still. On the 40-minute bus ride it takes to get from the city to Lincoln, you steadily see less and less people as you approach. Vast tracts of farm land on both sides of the road house sheep, cows and even horses, but there's barely a human in sight.
At the university, it's no different. In India you would associate university campuses with busy car parks where students furtively sneaked a puff of forbidden cigarettes or a noisy canteen where sweet tea and oily samosas greased conversation. At Lincoln you can hear a pin drop. Many of the roads are for pedestrians only and the buildings are named exotically like the Colombo Hall which is one of the students' dorms.
You see the occasional sign which prohibits the consumption of alcohol in a certain building but before long you come across an empty beer bottle on the side of a road and you know that this is not one of those institutions that treats young adults as children.
Rugby might be New Zealand's No. 1 sport, but Lincoln has three cricket grounds, each one maintained better than some international venues. New Zealand Cricket's high-performance centre – and this includes everything from indoor nets to high tech practice facilities – is lucky to be housed in such settings.
Two thoughts stick with you when you're at Lincoln University. Firstly, just how much studying could you get done at a locale so picturesque? Secondly will everything in New Zealand still look so breathtakingly beautiful once the novelty wears off and you've spent 50 weary days on the road? For most of us it's too late to answer the first question, but the second one should be answered in the coming weeks.