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NZ and Australian lawyers battle for cricketing honours

24 January 2019 - By Jonathan Corfe

Cricketing lawyers from New Zealand and Australia descended on Hamilton on 7 and 8 January 2019 for two limited overs games to contest the Holroyd Cup.

The Australians had departed the festivities of the meet and greet the night before and had only recently concluded thoughtfully feeding the local economy (Hamilton Casino). Thus they exited their tour van blurred and blinking in the intense New Zealand sunshine as we were similarly blurry and blinking at the intensity of their uniforms of bright canary yellow. While both teams waited for the Hamilton City Council to start finish preparing the pitch, a toss was made which Australia won, putting New Zealand in to bowl.

First match: New Zealand takes the field

Sunscreen was applied, water gratefully inhaled and the Blackwigs™ took to the field.

Photo of cricket captains
The captains shake hands and prepare for action.

Hopes were high as our opening bowler N. Feast, with the facial hair of a Patagonian llama farmer/wedding singer, skittled the stumps of the Australian Number One batsman C. Matthews early in the first over. However, early hopes turned into appreciation of the resilience of the Australian batting as their next wicket partnerships took them to drinks for the loss of only three wickets. Indeed, Leyden scored a patient 71 until he was bowled, providing the backbone of the Australian innings of 188/7 along with Wheller’s quickfire 23.

At the innings break shade was keenly sought as the open air temperature resembled a dysfunctional outback Australian beer chiller and those who had fielded had to partially disrobe, enthralling female bystanders (one, a mixed breed dog without an owner and the other an elderly lady who was pacing slowly half a mile away and intently studying the insect life on the footpath).  Leg spinner Walker took 3 for 43, taking out a good portion of the middle order wickets with Donald who ended up with 2 for 30.

New Zealand starts the run chase

The Blackwigs™ innings began with openers not much troubling the scorer as the ball kept low on the wicket and the umpire took out a trigger finger that he later assured both sides was not itchy. A skeptical spectator might point out that five successful LBW appeals suggests that the umpire had some form of phalangeal eczema, but cricket is a game played with discretion and it was not in the mindset of the New Zealanders to look for excuses. Instead they looked for successful partnerships and Pemberton and Thomas sought to steady the ship, which they did both scoring 38 and 22 respectively.

The appearance of Lomas (36) and Walkens (30*) also bought runs to the total. At the break New Zealand looked to be ahead of the Australian first innings at the same point. Indeed, the New Zealand batsmen moved the side to within 30 odd runs of the Australian total with  seven overs and five wickets to spare.

In times of strife a hero will rise to the challenge: a saviour, a courageous Achilles, a super human with deft fingers, bowling to a flat pitch in the evening shade with the ball keeping low. O’Halloran managed to do what the Australian pacemen of Forbes Snr, Keane and Pick could not do and blow the New Zealand order apart.

20 runs became 15 runs with four wickets to spare. Home and hosed said one young spectator.

15 runs became 8 runs with three wickets to spare. Nothing surer said another.

8 runs with three wickets to spare became 8 runs with two, one and then no wickets to spare.

The last ball was bowled through the gate of the last batsman and the New Zealand team retired to the pavilion looking tense but dignified; O’Halloran taking a magnificent five wicket haul.

The ill-informed could speak of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and how the scorebook tells a tail of impatient two- and three-ball ducks, but this does not give adequate credit to a fine bowling performance. Thus, the Holroyd Cup was retained by Australia in game one.

Second match: New Zealand takes the field again

Game two was conducted on another fine Hamilton morning with just a hint of a gale to make the scorer’s afternoon littered with muttered profanity. Again, while the Australian luck deserted them in the casino the night before, the toss went their way and again New Zealand was put in the field. 

The top order looked a little shaky when Keane ran out one of his partners and the other succumbed to a clever delivery from Espie that he will talk about at law conferences for years to come. The delivery will get both faster and slower, it will deviate in mid flight or will be deliberately aimed at a crack in the pitch, it will swing both inward and outward depending on how many sherries Espie has had, but all good stories are based on a grain of truth and their batsman walked with one run to his credit.

Keane and Maher pushed the score along into the mid forties until Maher went caught at midwicket, Keane going out with a ball that skied off his bat, rose into the air two or three kilometres and then found the gloves of the keeper/captain Donaldson behind square leg.

Australia paused for drinks with the score at a similar figure to the day before of 73/3. Keane, whose running resembled a shaved marsupial with an over-enthusiastic application of Deep-Heat gel, had been replaced at the wicket by Matthews.

Matthews seemed quietly determined not to fall as cheaply as he had the day before and his first fifty runs were scored diligently and without show. He was assisted ably by partnerships from Pick, Forbes Snr. and O’Halloran. However, like the New Zealand bowlers, they were mere spectators in a batting masterclass: saying that Matthews' second fifty was peppered with elegant fours and effortless sixes underrates the Scovilles of the peppers involved. Formerly confident and capable bowlers found themselves blasted off the scoresheet by a superlative of strokes, hands clasped to fevered brows as the outfielders wandered off to go and find the deformed red leather cause of their misery. One bowler noted that the only thing that he had done competently all day was the consumption of a sandwich.

The Hamilton City Council should have been informed to put up signs warning of the health and safety dangers to the public of identified flying objects in the vicinity, such was the measured disdain of Matthews to keep the ball where we could see it. Matthews eventually departed for 119, caught off the last ball of the innings. Of the bowlers, Earl and Espie both took two, Feast, Thomas and Walker taking one wicket each. In the interests of dignity I decline to disclose for how many runs.

I would at this juncture like to give credit to the New Zealand fielders. It was not unusual to see the forms of Boyle or Donald pursuing a ball to the boundary and then hurling themselves fearlessly at it to throw the offending object back to the middle as if it was a hand grenade and they were saving a class of doe-eyed kindergarten children. Generally all the catchable chances were taken, fielding was pursued with vigour and the score could have easily ballooned in what was torrid summer heat.

The equation: around 11 runs per over

Still, the innings break saw a target of 215 recorded for the loss of seven wickets and a scoring rate of around 11 required from the Blackwigs™.

The Blackwigs™ top order caused Corfe the scorer a great deal more work than the preceding day, providing a useful platform and withstanding the Australian opening bowlers Ahmad and Forbes Snr. Gurnick (21) and Pemberton (53) both showed a great deal of class; Gurnick solid in the face of a capable bowling attack, Pemberton stylishly scoring with deft strokes off his pads down leg, across square of the wicket and then being undone LBW by Forbes Jnr who appeared to bowl at a speed in inverse proportion to his diminutive size.

In came the Taihape tyro, Thomas. When New Zealand lost two quick wickets, Thomas (52*) began to patiently reassemble the innings, whittling away at the score. Unfortunately the required run rate began to swell and captain’s orders were to stand and deliver. Three overs from the end New Zealand required another forty-odd runs. Thomas and Donaldson (27 off 10 balls) attempted a sensational ending. Boundaries were cheered but the Kiwis, dot balls were met with groans of increasing despair. The Australian fielders charged around the field attempting to snuff out runs and the Blackwigs™ fell 19 runs short.

Geniality and good humour carry the day

As this publication’s cricket correspondent until Garth Galloway notices, it is incumbent on me to report the facts as they happened with unerring accuracy. Lawyers' cricket is a game for honourable folk and the series was contested with geniality and good humour. Indeed, it wasn’t until midway through the second day that underarm bowling and use of sandpaper was mentioned, and then in both cases with intended irony by an Australian. Assertions of ovine predilections were not mentioned by the touring side and an apology for David Warner was even offered and accepted.

Post-match socialising was the real winner of the series and we thank the support of local hostelry Good George with respect to their very kind provision of a marquee that stopped Corfe dying of heatstroke. AWS Legal of Queenstown is gratefully acknowledged for their financial support of the New Zealand Lawyers Cricket team as well as Roddie Sim and Scott Donaldson for their selfless organisation.

Lawyers cricket in New Zealand is growing in no small part thanks to their efforts and we look forward to the World Cup being contested in Hamilton late this year. We also gratefully acknowledge the Australian team for taking the trouble to come all the way to New Zealand only to end up coming to Hamilton and not somewhere like Nelson or Queenstown.

Photo of NZ lawyers team
The New Zealand team.

Photo of NZ lawyers cricket team
The Australian team.

The teams

New Zealand: J Boyle (Wellington), J Gurnick (Auckland), M. Pemberton (Tasman), A. Thomas (Wanganui), R. Sim (Waikato/Counties), K Lomas (Waikato), N Earl (Bay of Plenty), S. Donaldson (Capt. Southland), J Donald (Waikato/King Country), S Walkens (Auckland), N Feast (Waikato/Patagonia), M Walker (Auckland), A Espie (Wellington). Scorer: J Corfe (Tasman)

Australia: C. Matthews (Qld), A Forbes (Qld), N Leyden (Capt. NSW), T Pick (SA), R O’Halloran (NSW), A Ahmad (NSW), M Maher (NSW), T Wheller (Qld), C Forbes (Qld), J Keane (NSW), D Campbell (NSW).

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Last updated on the 24th January 2019