Hair-rais­ing start to his­tor­i­cal match

Nelson Mail - - SPORT - ANDREWVOERMAN

In the be­gin­ning, it was a bit of a laugh. The Black Caps were clad in beige, the Aus­tralians in ca­nary yel­low; there were some filthy mous­taches on dis­play, Hamish Mar­shall had an afro; Glenn Mc­Grath did his best Trevor Chap­pell im­pres­sion, and Billy Bow­den pro­duced a red card.

A crowd of 30,000 poured into Eden Park on a warm Fe­bru­ary evening, 13 years ago this Satur­day, for a his­toric oc­ca­sion - the first men’s Twenty20 in­ter­na­tional. It was one of three that year. The fol­low­ing year there were nine. The year af­ter, there was the first World Twenty20. The year af­ter that, the In­dian Pre­mier League started. The rest is his­tory.

But first things first. Daryl Tuf­fey to Adam Gilchrist, and a wide down the leg side. More runs soon fol­lowed, but so did wick­ets, and in the sixth over, Aus­tralia were 54-4, with Ricky Ponting and Si­mon Katich at the crease.

‘‘It was a weird old match,’’ says An­dre Adams, who was one of two Black Caps with pre­vi­ous T20 ex­pe­ri­ence, hav­ing played a bit for Es­sex in Eng­land.

‘‘It was se­ri­ous, but it wasn’t, but in the end, any game be­tween New Zealand and Aus­tralia is go­ing to be pretty se­ri­ous.’’

One of the fears in in­tro­duc­ing T20 into the in­ter­na­tional cal­en­dar was that it would pro­duce slogfest af­ter slogfest, but in his in­nings, Ponting proved that bats­man could still profit by play­ing nor­mal cricket shots. He fin­ished un­beaten on 98 off 55 balls, tak­ing 30 of the penul­ti­mate over, bowled by Tuf­fey, and hit­ting eight fours and five sixes - in­clud­ing a flick over the leg side off Jeff Wil­son which bounced off the roof of the ASB stand.

The match was Wil­son’s first of­fi­cial in­ter­na­tional in his sec­ond stint in cricket, which fol­lowed a decade as an All Black. He would only play two more, in the one-day se­ries that fol­lowed, and an­kle in­juries brought the end of his ca­reer the fol­low­ing year.

‘‘He was such an amaz­ing fella and such an awe­some ath­lete, and he was so good with every­one,’’ says Adams.

‘‘It made us pretty en­vi­ous, we wanted to be All Blacks. I re­mem­ber speak­ing with him for most of a night about what it was like be­ing in that en­vi­ron­ment, and it was re­ally cool to have him be a part of it.’’

Thir­teen years on, Aus­tralia’s 214-5 is still one of the 20 largest first in­nings to­tals in T20 in­ter­na­tion­als, which gives you a sense of the scale of the Black Caps’ task. Bren­don Mc­Cul­lum and Stephen Flem­ing opened, and as the sixth over be­gan, they were just about keep­ing pace with the re­quired rate at 49-0.

If one im­age lingers from that night above all oth­ers, it was what Mar­shall did to his hair, turn­ing his curls into a big, frizzy afro, held up with a head­band that left him re­sem­bling a 1980s fit­ness in­struc­tor.

The play­ers had pushed to wear beige for the match, in a throw­back to the coun­try’s glory days in the 80s, and on the back of that, the Beige Bri­gade fan group is­sued a chal­lenge that they should all grow mous­taches, with prizes of beer on of­fer to the clubs of those deemed to have done the best.

‘‘The think­ing was it would prob­a­bly take me two months to grow any fa­cial hair, so I thought I haven’t got much time here,’’ says Mar­shall, ex­plain­ing how the afro came about.

‘‘I didn’t re­alise how big it was go­ing to get un­til I was sit­ting in the ho­tel and I looked in the mir­ror af­ter giv­ing it a good brush for a few hours in front of the TV, and there was no turn­ing back at that stage, so I had to walk out with that hairdo.’’

Aus­tralian quick Michael Kasprow­icz also em­braced the 80s theme, wear­ing a thick white head­band that made him look like Den­nis Lillee, and pro­ceeded to change the game in the space of two balls, dis­miss­ing Flem­ing and new man Matthew Sin­clair. He also got Mc­Cul­lum - who made 36 off 24 - in his next over, and Chris Cairns, in his fi­nal one, to help re­duce the Black Caps to 95-5.

Mar­shall and Adams went cheaply too - the lat­ter sac­ri­fic­ing him­self in a run out to save Scott Styris, who was the only one fir­ing. He made 66 off 39, and Wil­son chipped in with 18 off 14, but the dam­age had been done.

With the Black Caps need­ing 45 off the fi­nal ball, Glenn Mc­Grath got per­mis­sion from his cap­tain, Ponting, to pre­tend to bowl an un­der­arm de­liv­ery, in an echo of Trevor Chap­pell’s in­fa­mous act in 1981. It was taken in the spirit that it was in­tended - a fi­nal joke to cap a fun-filled evening - and Billy Bow­den got in on the act, bran­dish­ing a red card as if it were a foot­ball match.

Mc­Grath then bowled a proper ball and got Tuf­fey out caught, which meant the Black Caps were dis­missed for 170, a 44-run loss.

To­day, the two teams meet in a T20 at Eden Park for the first time since that night 13 years ago. It will be the 649th in­ter­na­tional, and it comes in the mid­dle of a sum­mer where the game’s short­est for­mat has taken cen­tre stage. T20 has not yet won over ev­ery cricket fan, but it has cer­tainly come a long way.

That night was Mc­Cul­lum’s first taste of a for­mat where he has be­come a global star. The two cap­tains, Flem­ing and Ponting, now coach in the IPL. Sev­eral oth­ers have also gone on to taste suc­cess, whether in one of the world’s fran­chise leagues or in their own coun­tries.

T20 had been bub­bling away do­mes­ti­cally since it started in Eng­land in 2003, but it was given greater le­git­i­macy by be­ing played in­ter­na­tion­ally.

‘‘At the time it was brand new to every­one,’’ says Mar­shall, who cap­tained Welling­ton to the New Zealand T20 ti­tle last year, al­most a decade af­ter play­ing his last in­ter­na­tional.

‘‘The play­ers bought into the fes­ti­val side, and the crowd cer­tainly en­joyed what it of­fered. It started off that way and it’s grown into some­thing pretty big. Some peo­ple prob­a­bly saw it grow­ing into some­thing as big as this, but a lot of us prob­a­bly didn’t.’’

PHO­TOS: STUFF

Hamish Mar­shall sported an afro hair­style for the in­au­gu­rual Twenty20 men’s in­ter­na­tional 13 years ago.

Ricky Ponting had a bit of fun with ri­val cap­tain Stephen Flem­ing’s mous­tache at the toss, in the 2005 ‘‘fun but se­ri­ous’’ Twenty20 match at Eden Park.

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