Cricket takes a back seat for Kiwis ahead of second Test against England

Pacer Blair Tickner's home town was destroyed by Cyclone Gabrielle

New Zealand bowler Blair Tickner got emotional while talking about Cyclone Gabrielle after it destroyed his home town. Getty
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Cricket won't be foremost in the minds of New Zealand's players as they prepare to take on England in the second Test that begins in Wellington on Friday.

The series is being played in the middle of extreme weather in the country. Cyclone Gabrielle hit New Zealand's North Island on February 12, four days before the first Test in Mount Maunganui, and has left behind a trail of destruction.

Fast bowler Blair Tickner said he struggled to enjoy his Test debut with the suffering in his home town from a devastating cyclone.

Tickner's home town Hastings in the Hawke's Bay region was one of the worst-hit areas, with his father's home among those destroyed.

Tickner was given permission to head back to help with relief efforts after England wrapped up victory on Sunday and was emotional when he reunited with teammates.

"You dream about your Test debut forever and expect your family to be there," Tickner said on Wednesday.

"My dad ... just wanted me to represent our family well and represent the Hawke's Bay. I just wanted to be a bright light for them at home."

Tickner, 29, took 4-127 against England as New Zealand fell to a 267-run defeat at Mount Maunganui, which was not as badly affected by the cyclone.

His father had encouraged his son to take the field against England and was at Bay Oval to see him dismiss Ben Duckett for his first Test wicket.

"My father's house has been fully destroyed. It was good to get back, help them out," he said, fighting back tears. "I grew up there as a kid, it's just crazy to see.

"Cricket doesn't feel hard when you see stock on the side of the road dead, people crying, their whole lives being flipped upside down."

Updated: February 22, 2023, 10:53 AM