Dion Nash: 15 facts about the former New Zealand skipper

Dion

Born November 20, 1971, Dion Joseph Nash is a former New Zealand cricketer who used to bowl medium fast and bat lower down the order. An all-rounder of sorts, Nash tried hands at multiple games before settling for cricket. He also captained the New Zealand team for a brief while and is best known for his aggressive on-field attitude. Nash could have achieved more, but a series of back injuries curtailed what could have been a promising career. On his birthday, Chinmay Jawalekar looks at 15 interesting facts about the man whose career was marked by a fair share of controversies as well.

1. A sports nut

Right from his early days, Nash was always interested in taking up sports. Besides cricket, he was also interested in other sports like basketball and rugby, where he earned accolades for being a fine fullback. He also played Australian Rules football in the Auckland Australian Football League where he was a premiership player with the Mt Roskill Saints.

2. Good at academics too

Despite being a sports buff, Nash did reasonably well when it came to academics. He studied at Auckland Grammar School in his early years and had a good academic record. The same school even awarded him a sports scholarship. Later, he went on to study at Otago University.

3. First impression

Nash made his First-Class debut during the 1990-91 season and made an immediate impact. Subsequently, he was selected to tour India to play Under-19 games. He played alongside future stars like Stephen Fleming and Rahul Dravid who captained India Under-19 in that series. Nash scored an unbeaten hundred in the second game in the three-match series and bowled decently. His international career took off from here.

4. Controversy part I

During New Zealand s tour of South Africa in 1994-95, Nash was found guilty of smoking marijuana along with teammates Stephen Fleming and Matthew Hart at their hotel room. While Fleming and Hart admitted their part in proceedings, Nash claimed he had “merely simulated” using the drug. Fleming, Hart and Nash were banned for a brief while and were also fined $ 175 each. Incidentally, their teammate and present day commentator Danny Morrison had reported the incident to the management.

5. English County

Nash s career and back injury went hand in hand. The injury troubled him all through his career and eventually resulted in an untimely retirement from the game. He signed for English County side Middlesex in 1995 and by the time he went to play for his second season in County Cricket in 1996, he was struggling to turn up and bowl because of the back pain. Quite strangely, the scans did not show anything serious. He had to return after featuring in just two games. It was only after his return to New Zealand that a stress fracture in the back was revealed. He later said in an interview that it was such a shame to return back early as that season could have borne fruits for both him as well as Middlesex.

6. Aggressive leader: Amidst his fight with the injuries and the increasing feeling that he will not play for New Zealand again, Nash surprisingly got a chance to lead New Zealand against a strong South African team in 1998. The captaincy came to him as regular captain Fleming went out with an injury. He led the side with aggression and hard attitude in the series.

It is said that he never minced his words and was never afraid to assert his rights in the middle. Though New Zealand lost the Test series and narrowly went down in the One-Day International (ODI) series, critics showered praises on him for his leadership style, which was quite attacking as compared to Fleming s laidback approach. Despite all the acclaim, he had to hand over the captaincy back to Fleming when the latter returned back from injury.

7. Controversy part II

In December 2001, Nash was reported for on-field misbehaviour towards the umpire and unacceptable language towards a player during an Otago-Auckland State Championship match in Dunedin. Following a code of conduct hearing, he was suspended from all forms of cricket for 15 days.

8. Injured-out

After his suspension period ended, he did play a few ODIs in a tri-series in Australia, which proved to be his last following another injury. In Nash s words, he was done with cricket after being injured-out .

9. The Indian connection part I

Nash has a deep rooted connection with India a country he toured seven times as a cricketer. In an interview with Mumbai Mirror, he once shared an interesting anecdote, which goes like this: During New Zealand s 1999 tour to India, he, along with fellow teammate Adam Parore, arranged for two motorcycles and left the team hotel to have some fun. They went riding through the streets of Kanpur thinking they won’t be recognised, which in a cricket-crazy country like India is impossible. Soon both were recognised and chased by 30 men on motorcycles. The incident took place on a road parallel to the Ganges and the chase ended with a visit to the temple on the banks of the holy river.

10. The Indian connection part II

Nash has several other interesting memories about his times in India, including playing a match on Diwali day and scaring the guards of a hotel by bursting crackers. He loves the country to the extent that he named his daughter India Lilly.

11. Roles with New Zealand cricket

Post-retirement, Nash took up the roles in the New Zealand cricket set-up. He first became one of the three spokesmen for New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association in December 2002. Later, in June 2005, Nash was appointed as a New Zealand selector.

12. Entrepreneurship

Nash s first tryst with entrepreneurship was when he started selling spring water 420 for a while in partnership, which was used in Vodka brand 42Below. He had a 25% stake in that water business, but decided to sell it once Bacardi bought the 42Below and the ancillary brands. He made some money out of the sale and then shifted his focus to start something on his own.

13. Triumph & Disaster

Nash now heads a company called Triumph & Disaster that manufactures and markets grooming products for men. Incidentally, the name of his company is inspired from Rudyard Kipling’s motivational poem ‘If’, that his father had gifted him when he was 12. His brand is now selling in 400 stores across the world from Singapore to USA.

14. Family

Nash is married to former New Zealand women s netball player and Captain Bernice Mene and the couple have three children.

15. Beach Cricket

In the year 2008, Nash became a part of New Zealand’s official Beach Cricket Team. He participated in beach cricket tournaments and played alongside the legends of the game like Alland Border, Martin Crowe, Allan Donald and Stephen Fleming.

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(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)