All Blacks & Black Caps set to meet at Hagley Oval

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News,
Publish Date
Monday, 27 August 2018, 6:21PM
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By: Andrew Alderson

Ever wondered how the All Blacks might fare against the Black Caps on the cricket field?

Fans will get that opportunity in January when a host of former New Zealand cricketers take on a mix of current and ex-rugby internationals in a Twenty20 match branded the "Hot Spring T20 Christchurch Black Clash" at Christchurch's Hagley Oval.

The event is the creation of former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming and Duco Events boss David Higgins. The concept was launched today.

The "All Blacks" side expects to feature current captain Kieran Read, former captain Richie McCaw and renowned cricketing talents Beauden and Jordie Barrett, Israel Dagg and Leon MacDonald.

There's hope the likes of Jeff Wilson, Dan Carter and Grant Fox will join them.

They will be coached by former All Blacks gaffer Sir Graham Henry, who represented Canterbury and Otago at cricket.

The "Black Caps" will be mentored by Fleming, and include Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, Grant Elliott and Luke Ronchi. Crusaders coach Scott Robertson will be the team manager of the side.

Daniel Vettori, Chris Harris and Nathan Astle are also candidates to play.

The idea is to pit rugby players who might otherwise have been professional cricketers, against some of the best former New Zealand representatives.

The game will take place on Friday, January 25.

That falls on the final weekend before All Blacks end of year tour members re-join their Super Rugby franchises. The date is bookended by New Zealand-India one-day internationals in Mt Maunganui, and coincides with Auckland anniversary weekend.

The match will replicate South Africa's Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup where the Springboks play the Proteas.

Johannesburg's Wanderers Stadium hosted the inaugural duel in 2014, in which Springboks lock Victor Matfield's 62 off 36 balls guided his rugby comrades to victory.

Fleming let the idea percolate after a conversation with South African captain Faf du Plessis. The pair work together as coach and player at the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League.

"I thought if we had the opportunity with a brand as big as the All Blacks, it would pique my interest," Fleming told the Herald on Sunday.

The former New Zealand captain envisages something similar to the Fill The Basin spectacle which fundraised for Christchurch in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake.

"There is almost a bit of romanticism around this one, bringing a game to Christchurch in its rebuild.

Fleming has enlisted T20 master blaster McCullum to lead the way in preserving Team Cricket's honour, while Sir Graham had no hesitation in appointing Read – an outstanding cricketer in his own right – to lead Team Rugby's challenge.

"Some people will no doubt wonder what a bunch of rugby players are thinking in taking on the likes of Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum at their own game," Sir Graham said.

"But let me tell you, there is no shortage of cricketing talent in the ranks of Team Rugby. I can't give too much away, but I can say the team I'm assembling will be more than capable of holding its own on the cricket field. Make no mistake, we're out to win this thing."

Team Cricket player-coach Fleming certainly isn't taking the challenge lightly.

"I've told Baz [McCullum] I'll be expecting him to bring his A-game," said Fleming, who was joined at Monday's Hot Spring T20 Christchurch Black Clash launch at Hagley Oval by recently retired Black Caps all-rounder Kyle Mills.

"We're putting our reputations on the line here," Fleming said. "We know just how good the likes of Kieran and his rugby mates are at cricket. They're exceptional athletes and many of them could have been international cricketers had they chosen another path. So we're on high alert, that's for sure."

Proceeds will be donated to the benevolent funds of the New Zealand rugby and cricket players' associations for members who fall on hard times, and to establish academic scholarships for retired players in both codes. The event will be corporate-sponsored.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.


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