Sunny days and
Marisa de Silva
& Ishani Ranasinghe catch up with some of the Kiwi cricketers
The sun is
scorching, the batsmen are practising their batting in the nets,
the bowlers are trying out the pitch, tired players are sprawled
all over the grounds and wicket keeper Robert Hart's in a foul mood
due to an unsatisfactory performance at practice (so claims Jeff
Crowe, Manager of the team, laughing).
Yes, the Kiwis
are here! All geared up for a full month's cricket, (two Tests and
an electrifying triangular series with current Sharjah Cup Champions,
Pakistan, and of course our home team).
mistaken for fans in search of autographs (there were plenty of
them dogging the Black Caps) walking to and fro from the nets at
SSC to the grounds at NCC selecting players to speak to and catching
glimpses of them hard at work
we finally got the opportunity
to speak to some of the New
First up was
soft spoken, sunburnt, Robert Hart (29), the Kiwi wicket keeper,
evidently more satisfied with himself now, than when we first saw
him. Starting his test career with a boom (literally) in Lahore,
Pakistan last year, when a bomb went off outside their hotel, this
is his first tour to Sri Lanka.
seems to be close to the 'Harts' because his big brother Mathew,
a spinner, also represented New Zealand. Coming from a cricket loving
family, Robert seems to enjoy both his job behind the wickets as
well as batting.
the Northern District Club team, (a well-reputed
team back home), he has a good foundation to his cricketing career
prior to joining the national team. Looking forward to some good
games ahead, Robert intends to put his 'heart' and soul into every
game he plays in this series.
Next to join
us was newcomer Bruce Martin (23), who loves the heat of Colombo
and claimed that the conditions here are brilliant and beautiful.
In Sri Lanka for the first time, he is here to watch the game and
learn. Coming from a cricket loving family, his three brothers and
sister all love the game and they used to play together all the
time, he said.
as a fast bowler, injury forced him to shift to spin. "At that
time my father felt it was a good idea. I am loving it as it is
not so tiring as fast bowling," he adds smilingly. Having yet
a lot to learn about the game he says that he's been watching 'Murali'
at work perfecting his technique to try and take in a few pointers.
here is quite nice, I thought it would be hotter," says Richard
Jones (29), as he sat down beside us on the grass. Here in Sri Lanka
for the first time, he made his debut in the first Test played at
the P. Sara Stadium. Coming from a country whose national sport
is rugby, what really got him to play cricket, we wondered? "Well,
cricket is as big as rugby back in New Zealand, it's a very popular
summer sport," he said. Commenting on the local pitches, he
said it was quite evident that a lot of hard work has gone into
maintenance and upkeep.
Boy' and baby of the team, Ian Butler (21), was next on the hot
seat and you could say he was
hmm a bit different. (To say
the least)! I guess you might be wondering why he's fondly referred
to as that huh? Well, we were initially tipped off about the nickname,
yet again by their manager Crowe, (quite a mischief maker, you could
say) and specifically asked to question him about his hair, which
was a bright yellow!!!
Solely on the
basis of heeding Crowe's instructions and maybe a wee bit out of
curiosity, oh all right bursting with curiosity we asked him how
it came about. His explanation was quite short and simple actually.
(Shane Bond) and I came down here looking sort of like him (pointing
to a team mate with longish hair) but, we just couldn't stand the
heat so, the hair had to go. So we both went to get our hair cut
and then one thing lead to another and things kinda got out of control,"
he chuckled. "Bondy's hair's coloured too, you know,"
he added defensively. (Bond's hair colour however, seemed to be
a tad more discreet somehow). So, that's the story of how Butler
became the 'Baywatch Boy'.
On a more serious
note, his professional career is one to be proud of, for sure. Although
he made his debut only last year, on their England tour, he's been
Bond's partner in crime from thereon in the fast bowling department.
Butler gives his bowling partner all the support he can possibly
his first time here, as a member of the national squad, he was here
on tour in 2000, with the Kiwi under-19 cricket team. Passionate
about the game, he's been playing since he was 12-years-old.
Next up, also
sporting the bleached look was speedster Shane Bond (27). A man
of few words, he seems more a man of action; he has a reputation
for knocking batsmen over, like Sanath Jayasuriya in the first test.
In Sri Lanka for the second time, Bond made his debut against Australia
in 2001. "Steve Waugh was his first wicket," interrupted
is a lot of hard work here mainly because of the climate,"
says Bond while admitting that the conditions here in Sri Lanka
are quite good. Commenting on the pitches here he says that they
are trying to get pitches of this sort back in New Zealand.
in his family was really interested in cricket, he's been at it
since he was just six. A talented young bowler with a bright future,
he's certainly one to watch.
Last but by
far not the least interesting was Lou Vincent (25), a seasoned batsman
for the Kiwis who we discovered to be a 'barrel of laughs'. He fondly
recalled one of his most treasured memories, meeting cricket's most
legendary figure, Sir Donald Bradman, when he was just 14. He still
remembers Sir Donald's reply to his question of how to avoid getting
caught out all the time, a huge crisis for young Vincent back then.
Sir Donald simply looked him in the eye and said, "Don't put
the ball up in the air!" Lou adds with a laugh, "Although
many people had given me similar advice, when he said it, it really
stuck in my head."
Due to his
unsatisfactory performance during the recently concluded World Cup
Series, he very matter-of-factly told us how he's been made professional
'water boy' for the team during this tour, as punishment. He also
has to clean up the dressing room after his teammates and bring
them bananas and other goodies at their request, he added, still
with a straight face. Lou proved to be quite a character and left
us in fits of laughter.
Due to his
previous tours of Sri Lanka with the Kiwis, Lou claims to know his
way around the city quite well and even insisted that he owned a
plot of land just outside Colombo, as he considered Sri Lanka his
second home. Therefore, eventually due to his persistence we bought
his story only to be told "I was just kidding"!!!
on cricket though, is one of true sportsmanship and discipline.
Cricket, as he sees it, is mostly a mental game. You should be able
to overcome any type of weather conditions, no matter how difficult,
and concentrate on your game, says Lou. A specialist batsman, Lou
hopes to change his luck during this series and get his game back