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June 2024


We finish off the end of last season with a final Catching Up With, an occasional column that talks to the people that make up the jigsaw that presents game day at the Bay Oval.


This time we talk with Aaron Meek, who was a stalwart of the Mount Maunganui Cricket Club in his time in the Western Bay, and is the regular face of the Dressing Rooms at the Bay Oval when international teams stop off in the Western Bay of Plenty.
When and how did you receive the volunteer position of the quaintly-named Dressing Room Attendant?
Well, my first foray into voluntary work was during the 2015 World Cup at Eden Park which was a great experience seeing all cultures from around the world. As for becoming a room attendant, my first recollection was 2016, I remember stalking Mike Hesson for a photo, hahaha, I think it was BC's vs Sri Lanka 1st T20?
Do you have a job description and if so can you share it with us?
Basically, I ensure refreshments are fully stocked, rooms are clean and tidy and the teams have everything they require to give them a great Bay Oval experience that they will remember.
Tell us about the different teams that you have looked after.
Each team has their different nuances, and it’s great to see them behind the scenes. India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are probably the most relaxed teams, wait, West Indies, well, how relaxed is relaxed? Bangladesh were a very quiet team, focused.
I've dealt with England under McCullum's watch and they were completely different team to when Collingwood was coach, the change in atmosphere was plain to see, more relaxed and jovial as a tight unit. South Africa was great, full of debutants who were so keen and fresh-faced and played with exceeding expectations. 
Who are the best-known players worldwide that you have looked after and assisted?
There are so many idols to list, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Rahul Dravid, Kieron Pollard, Courtney Walsh, Sir Brian Lara, Viv Richards, David Boon, Jeff Crowe, Brendan McCallum, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Younis Khan, David Bedingham, Kruger Van Myk, how much time have you got... 
Tell us about a typical day in your life as a Dressing Room Attendant.
Generally, I'm there at least two hours before the teams. Starting with the viewing room I will set up the on-field training bags out the front ready for the teams when they arrive, I will arrange the seating and sponsors' tables and top up all the fridges as required, ensuring both rooms (Changing and Viewing) are presentable to Bay Oval standards. On arrival of the team/s, they will have a variety of requests pre-game which will keep me running until game time!
How does being on test duty compare with the two other forms of the game?
Test duties tend to be of less haste, because time is our friend, so things seem to happen at a more leisurely pace. ODI's are not overly hectic, but steady throughout the game, whereas T20's are a bash-and-dash affair. It's fast-paced and all go from start to finish!
What format of the game do you enjoy most?
I love all formats. Tests are great, just to watch the team's game plan evolve and strategy change with every wicket that falls and how they put it into effect is a great spectacle from inside the shed. ODI's and T20's, I love for the spectacle and atmosphere both from a spectator’s point of view and from an international teams perspective, and how slick the whole operation is for all formats.  
What games stand out as the most memorable in your time at the Bay Oval?
Rachin Ravindra's 240 vs South Africa was certainly one of many highlights, but for me the first pink ball test was special, Tom Blundell’s 138, Harry Brook 89 then followed up in Wellington with 186. Kuggeleijn and Tickner debuts, Stokes overtaking McCullum's record of most sixes in test matches overall. Such a high-scoring game, but the class of Anderson shone through to spearhead an English victory, and they celebrated at the Oval for quite some time! It was an amazing few days that I won’t soon forget. 

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