Musings from beyond the boundary – 18 April

Musings from beyond the boundary – cricketing thoughts through the eyes of Trevor Auger, an Auckland Cricket Society and Supporters Club Member.

A couple of weeks after the New Zealand Cricket Awards Dinner, scheduled to fit into the narrowest of windows between the end of the test match summer and the departure of so many of the national side to their overseas assignments in India and England, Auckland Cricket hosted its own celebration of the season.

Once again it was a splendid evening, celebrating a season which delivered far more than the final placings of the Aces, and to a lesser extent the Hearts, might suggest. And it wasn’t all about the season just concluded, as a panel of Chris Harris, Dion Nash and Chris Martin provided the entertainment between the handing out of the trophies.

Nash was unexpectedly candid about the goings-on during the tour of South Africa in 1994/95. Harris told how on the same tour, during the Test at Newlands, a spectator had given him a miniature bat signed by the New Zealand visitors of 1961-62, including Harris’s late father Zin, who had scored his only test century in the corresponding Cape Town encounter.

Meanwhile Chris Martin, having reflected on the fear involved in facing some of the game’s fastest bowlers, lightened the atmosphere with the tale of being refused entry to the ground for a test match in which he was playing because he’d turned up on his bicycle and the man on the gate wouldn’t accept that he was part of the team.

The important business of the evening though was the presentation of the awards and Colin Munro was a deserved winner of the John Morris Trophy as Auckland’s Cricketer of the Year. His lowest score For Auckland this season was 18 against Canterbury (characteristically off only 6 balls). He batted nine times in the Plunket Shield and passed fifty on six of those occasions, going on to three figures four times. His only Ford Trophy innings ended on 62.

Add in his wicket-taking in the Plunket Shield, where he finished the season opening the bowling, and there could be no argument with his taking the Trophy for the second consecutive summer and third time overall. Credit also to Colin for speaking so generously and honestly in accepting the award.

The International Cricketer of the Year was a keenly fought award, and Jeet Raval must have been very close following his fine first year as a test cricketer, but the deserved winner was White Ferns opening bowler Holly Huddleston. In 15 International matches this season, against South Africa, Pakistan and Australia, she captured 26 T20 and ODI wickets.

In South Africa she returned her most successful ODI figures of 5/25. Back in New Zealand against Pakistan she had a best of 4/20 and in the Rose Bowl series against Australia she had 3/46 and 3/44. Across the Tasman, in the T20 series, she had figures of 2/18 and 2/9 in the White Ferns’ two victories, the latter performance contributing to Australia’s dismissal for just 66. All-in-all, a memorable summer for the tall right-armer from Eden-Roskill.

In a nice touch, Auckland Cricket honoured three recent retirees (with the promise of more of the same next year). Two were players whose careers had ended in recent years, Andre Adams and Michael Bates, and the third was the retiring Hearts captain, Victoria Lind. All three had earned international honours, but all are probably best-remembered (in New Zealand anyway, in Adams’ case) for their contribution to Auckland over their lengthy careers.

Lind made her debut in the 2003-04 season and since then she has scored more than 3,000 runs for Auckland across the 50 over and T20 formats. Captain since 2008-09, she has led the team to the 50-Over Finals in each of the last six seasons, taking the title three times.

You need only talk to the Hearts players to quickly recognise how Lind’s career has gone for beyond her performances on the field. She is respected and admired by her team, and that is reflected by the results she has achieved with them. Little surprise then, that she was also recognised on the night as Representative Coach of the Year, for her work with the title-winning Auckland Under-21 women.

Another winner on the night was Sara McGlashan as the Women’s Batsman of the Year. The 2017 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack arrived just the other day and browsing through its plentiful pages I note that McGlashan had the unusual honour last year of playing in both the Australian  Women’s Big Bash Final (scoring 20 in a losing cause)  and in the English T20 Super League where her 21 not out helped steer her side to victory.

Another recent arrival on the bookshelf is the Wisden India Almanack, and this contains an affectionate remembrance of Martin Crowe by Greg Chappell. Chappell writes that even through Crowe’s tough first series against Australia he was impressed that “every evening after play he continued to front up for a drink and a chat and that he kept asking intelligent questions of those who had played successfully at the top level”.

Later on, he writes of a weekend in Taupo where Martin and Jeff Crowe combined to take on Greg and Trevor Chappell over a weekend of golf, fishing and skeet shooting – a three test series.  New Zealand in the form of the Crowes, took out the golf, to seize a one-nil lead.  Out on Lake Taupo the Chappells equalised and then against the odds, and thanks to some unexpected brilliance from the novice, Trevor, the Chappells triumphed in the skeet-shooting to take the honours for the weekend.

Greg called it “one of the more satisfying victories of our sporting lives. Nothing more than bragging rights were on the line, but we all played as though our lives depended on it.”

…No surprise there!