Tana Umaga and Shane Warne shake hands at the conclusion of the Christchurch Earthquake charity match © Getty Images
Tana Umaga and Shane Warne shake hands at the conclusion of the Christchurch Earthquake charity match © Getty Images

 

By Graeme Beasley

 

To get so many alpha males in one place at the one time was clearly no mean feat, and a reminder of those leadership qualities that Stephen Fleming brought to the game. Here are some random observations

 

Shane Warne. What a charmer. He juggled things around, and managed to make it to Wellington en route from Melbourne to LA.

 

He spent the first hour signing autographs, and shelved his competitive instinct for long enough to bowl juicy full tosses to the PM, the Trade Me auction winner and to Tana Umaga. But when Andrew Jones was batting he reverted to type. The part that was most impressive, though, was the Pied Piper routine in front of the bank. He allowed over 100 kids surround him, as he played with their caps, and signed anything they brought to him.

 

And then when the ball came his way he got them to field the ball and return it. Those kids will remember that. McCaw still gets all sorts of people swooning, and it was good to see him go through his officiating role without cheating. The idea of slowing the National Anthem down to funeral pace was an ambitious one; and it worked. They got the tallest mascot to stand next to Chris Nevin.

 

Nice touch. Mark Hadlow grew up in the vicarage at St. Marks over the road. When the scoreboard listed Bell and Edgar to open for Wellington, the thought was that this was probably the least suited T20 opening partnership in history. But Bell can bat, and the timing of some of Edgar’s cover drives was the purest cricketing moment of the day. Jonathan Millmow and Michael Vaughan seem to be close. Martin Crowe was very bubbly.

 

And look; the technology works even if he needs to match the colours a bit better.  Murray Decker tripped over the artificial plastic picket fence. That job at New Zealand Cricket that Geoff Allott had until recently came with some really good lunches. Russell Crowe speaks really quietly for an actor. You’d have thought he’d spent most of his time talking to the Hobbitocracy, but rugby players and politicians are more his thing.

 

James Nesbitt was the only person to mention Japan in interviews. The Phoenix players were tireless in their carrying of the buckets. Naturally the Sportsfreak donation went into the one being carried by friend of the site, Ben Sigmund Tana Umaga. Imagine if he’d stuck at his cricket. And even when chatting away with the masses, he still has that ability to intimidate those standing behind him.

 

In the end it was impressive how so many egos of different backgrounds moulded in so easily together, paying due attention to crowd, and appearing to get on really well together. Well, perhaps with the odd exception.

 

(Graeme Beasley’s twitter handle is @sportzfreak and he blogs about cricket with a slight New Zealand lean.  He enjoys a good Australia v India spat, loves laughing at England and is really looking forward to South Africa’s pending World Cup choke)