It’s called the ‘Hot Spring T20 Christchurch Black Clash’, and will pit some of New Zealand’s best-known cricketers against current and former All Blacks rugby players in a charity T20 game at Hagley Oval on January 25 next year.
Thankfully for the cricketers, it’s not a bruising rugby contest being planned to raise funds for the benevolent funds of the rugby and cricket player associations. And that might be because Stephen Fleming is the one to have conceptualised it.
That said, Team Rugby should acquit themselves well come game time, seeing that Richie McCaw, Beauden Barrett, Israel Dagg and Jordie Barrett were all competent cricketers before switching full-time to professional rugby.
Not just that, in Jeff Wilson, Team Rugby might have quite a bit of class of the all-round kind in their ranks too.
Wilson, now 44, played cricket through a large part of the 1990s, making his debut in an ODI series against Australia. He played four games on the bounce, picking up only three wickets but getting among the runs, a 28-ball 44* the highlight.
He switched to rugby after that, and became an All Blacks hero with 44 tries in 60 international appearances, but retired in the early 2000s and returned to cricket. He did well enough to return to the New Zealand side for a series against a World XI side and two more ODIs and one T20I in 2005.
Team Rugby will be led by Kieran Read. “I’m going to be a bit nervous, to be honest. You lose your hand-eye (co-ordination) pretty quick in this game. I’ll have to get out and hit a few balls to get my eye back in,” Read, who played age-group cricket in Northern Districts, told local media.
Team Cricket, meanwhile, will be coached by Fleming and is expected to include the likes of Brendon McCullum, Grant Elliott, Luke Ronchi and other prominent players.
“I thought if we had the opportunity with a brand as big as the All Blacks, it would pique my interest. There is almost a bit of romanticism around this one, bringing a game to Christchurch in its rebuild,” Fleming told New Zealand Herald.
“We’re putting our reputations on the line here. 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.”