Musings from Beyond the Boundary – 24 September

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

Sad news with the passing last Thursday of Vera Burt, New Zealand’s oldest test cricketer, at the age of 90. Vera Robinson, before her marriage of 65 years to Hal Burt, was born in Patea but moved to Auckland in 1941 and began playing cricket for the Teachers Training College Cricket team in 1944. By the end of that year she had made her debut for Auckland, failing to score in that first match but taking three handy wickets. In a career remarkable for its longevity, her final representative appearance came in 1971, by which time she was playing for the North Shore Association in the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield competition.

Burt’s international career was almost as long. She was first picked for New Zealand for the test match against Australia at the Basin Reserve in 1948, having scored 54 against Canterbury and 31 against the visitors in the lead-up to the test selection. A year later she played against England in the test match at Eden Park, and her third and final test appearance came an amazing twenty years later at the Basin Reserve, once more against England.

Her test record was modest, but she also played 31 times for Auckland and on 11 further occasions for North Shore. Not only did she have a noteworthy cricket career, in 1960 she became a dual international, representing the New Zealand hockey team against Australia, and in 1972 she assisted in the establishment of the North Shore Women’s Hockey Association.

In 1989 Burt was awarded an MBE for services to sport, and in 2009 she was one of the 19 inaugural inductees to the Harbour Sports Hall of Fame, alongside names like Sir Peter Blake, Allison Rowe, Ian Fergusson and Wayne Shelford. Ces Dacre was the only other cricketer to be part of the original group to be so honoured.

The oldest living New Zealand test cricketer is now John R Reid, whose role in  the 1949 tour to England will be recognised this week at the launch of ‘The Skipper’s Diary’, Sir Richard Hadlee’s compilation of Walter Hadlee’s tour diary.

Meanwhile the New Zealand season has quietly got itself under way with the Aces losing a warm-up game on the Gold Coast against a strong Queensland Bulls line-up by just one run. Off-spinner Aniket Parikh snared four wickets while Craig Cachopa with 46 and Donovan Grobbelaar with an unbeaten 55 were significant contributors with the bat.

In India, New Zealand A have made a rusty start to their tour, collapsing on day one of their four-day match against India A to be all out for 147, after an opening partnership of 72 between Jeet Raval and George Worker.  The New Zealanders battled against the spin of Shahbaz Nadeem and Karn Sharma, who shared eight wickets between them.

Apart from the openers, only Tim Seifert passed 20, and his 35 was the innings’ top score. A couple of late wickets to Ish Sodhi evened matters up just a little, but at 71/2 the home side are well-placed.

In England the season draws to a close over the coming week, but unlike last year’s nail-biting last day the 2017 County Championship has been decided well in advance, with Essex taking the trophy for the first time since 1992.

Neil Wagner has returned to reprise his early season role as the county’s overseas player and he played his part in a memorable victory against Hampshire this week. Wagner picked up the wicket of top-scorer George Bailey in Hampshire’s first innings of 254, before falling first ball as Essex tumbled to be all out for 76, with former South African Kyle Abbott claiming 6/20.

Following on, Essex regathered, and Wagner contributed an important 44 in a ninth wicket partnership of 82 with former England wicket-keeper James Foster. Hampshire were set 185 to win, but now it was their turn to collapse as they also succumbed for just 76, with Wagner taking 2/17 as the new Champions surged to victory.

In his last game for Durham this season Tom Latham made a handy 77 against Sussex, but that wasn’t enough to stop his team losing the match. Word is that Latham will be back with Durham next season – he has certainly made an impact with the bat in his limited opportunities for the county this northern summer.

The most noteworthy performance of the week by a Kiwi though, came from the evergreen Jeetan Patel, batting for Warwickshire against Yorkshire. Coming to the crease with the score 49/6, he scored 100 out of the 168 runs scored while he was at the crease.

Former England batsman Ian Bell, with whom Patel shared a 96 run seventh wicket partnership, scored 51 and no other player passed 21 as Warwickshire struggled to 219 in their first innings. In spite of Patel’s efforts this wasn’t enough, and Yorkshire eventually won the match by just two wickets.

Finally, congratulations to Auckland’s four players who’ve earned White Ferns contracts for the coming season. Holly Huddleston and Katie Perkins retain their places in the contracted players list, but Maddy Green is a new addition this season, and Anna Peterson wins back a contracted place after missing out last year. Ironically, while being left out of the mix at the start of last summer she was recalled to the side after players were side-lined by injury and made a big impact, most memorably with her T20 hat-trick against Australia at Geelong.