Black Caps to meet All Blacks in T20 clash for Lomu-Crowe Trophy
All Blacks star Israel Dagg and former Blackcaps allrounder Grant Elliott at the unveiling of the Lomu-Crowe Trophy. (Image: Twitter)

In a unique first – and one which organisers have already had to defend – an ensemble of retired New Zealand’s cricketers, known around the world as the Black Caps, will meet their rugby counterparts, the famous All Blacks, in a charity T20 match for the Lowu-Crowe Trophy which has also been dubbed the ‘Black Clash’.

The trophy was unveiled on Wednesday in honour of the late icons Jonah Lomu and Martin Crowe, with organisers stating that proceeds for the match will go to New Zealand Cricket and the Rugby Players Associations to help with player welfare needs.

Both sporting bodies have been guaranteed to receive a minimum of $50,000 each from the event, to be played at Christchurch’s Hagley Oval on January 25, and Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand will also benefit from an in-ground collection and programme sales.At the unveiling of the Lomu-Crowe Trophy, Duco Events director David Higgins defended criticism in the local media of the charity match while stating the intent to honour arguably New Zealand cricket’s biggest sporting icons.

“Both Martin and Jonah were men whose achievements transcended the sports field,” he said. “So to be able to honour them even in a small way by naming the T20 Black Clash Trophy the Lomu-Crowe Trophy just feels right.”

The cricket team will be captained by Brendon McCullum and includes Nathan Astle, Chris Harris, Grant Elliott and Luke Ronchi among others. The rugby side is led by Kieran Read and headlined by Kiwi icon Richie McCaw among a roster of big names. It also includes former Australian cricket David Hussey as an ‘international wildcard’.

Jonah Lomu played 63 Tests for New Zealand, scoring 37 international tries
Jonah Lomu played 63 Tests for New Zealand, scoring 37 international tries. © Getty

The families of both Lomu, rugby’s biggest superstar, and 1992 World Cup captain Crowe, have given the match their approval.

Few international athletes have had such a great impact on their sport as Lomu has. His was the stuff of dreams: when just 19, he exploded onto the international scene during the 1995 World Cup in South Africa, scoring eight ties and helping the All Blacks reach the final. At his peak, Lomu was nothing short of a phenomenon.

However, his career hit a roadblock in 1996 when he was diagnosed with a rare kidney disorder and had to sit out an entire year. He returned for the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, picking up a gold medal representing New Zealand in the Sevens Rugby event, and the 1999 World Cup, where he scored eight tries.

In 2004, Lomu underwent kidney transplant surgery after suffering renal failure, and had to rely on a dialysis for almost a year after that. He died in 2015 at the age of 40.

Martin Crowe is a New Zealand sporting icon
Martin Crowe is a New Zealand sporting icon. © Getty

Crowe, for long New Zealand’s leading run-getter in Test cricket, is widely regarded as the best batsman the county has ever produced. He rewrote the New Zealand record books during a 13-year Test career, then set about reinventing cricket in retirement with an early 20-over version of the game. Hailing from a cricketing family — his father Dave played first grade and brother Jeff also captained the Black Caps – Crowe played in 77 Tests, averaged 45.36 and scored 16 centuries until December 2017 was aNew Zealand record. His highest score of 299 at the Basin Reserve in Wellington against Sri Lanka in 1991 stood as a New Zealand best until McCullum scored 302 against India on the same ground in 2014.

He died aged 53 in 2016 after a long battle with cancer and a rare sub-type of disease known as double-hit lymphoma.

Team Rugby: Kieran Read (captain), Richie McCaw, Israel Dagg, Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Aaron Smith, Jason Spice, Ali Williams, Kendra Cocksedge, Kaylum Boshier, Ofisa Tunu’u (wicketkeeper), David Hussey (international wildcard).

Team Cricket: Brendon McCullum (captain), Grant Elliott, Luke Ronchi (wicketkeeper), Kyle Mills, Chris Harris, Nathan Astle, James Franklin, Hamish Marshall, Liz Perry.