Local lads at Lord’s
Like watching a frog in a blender, was Australian cricket team captain Aaron Finch’s observation of Gisborne man Mitchell Stewart-Hill’s ball-catching attempts during the World Cup cricket season.
Stewart-Hill was not part of the Black Caps’ team but, along with former Boys’ High schoolmate Pera Gibbs, had landed work at Lord’s Cricket Ground where they helped set up for the World Cup matches. In London working in the event and film industries, Stewart-Hill was joined at the historic cricket ground by Gibbs who was on a break from the rugby season before he goes to his next club in Europe.
The Gisborne pair did not get to hang out with the Black Caps in Lord’s hallowed Long Room where the walls are lined with paintings that celebrate the cricket from the 18th century to the present day.
“We don’t hang out with them directly,” said Stewart-Hill, “but they often passed us during pre-game sessions. If you took advantage of the proximity you could have a good chat. Ross Taylor tried to talk about the weather with me and I told him he needed to get better yarns.
“And Joe Root told me to think about it when I asked why he wore the number 66 (Route 66). But the biggest highlight was probably catching sixes down the ground at Edgbaston from an open net session with (Aussie cricketers) Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch.”
The Lord’s Cricket Ground experience at the height of summer in London was “pretty special”, said Stewart-Hill.
“It was almost like a private members club for exclusive fans or former greats of the game. The grass is beautiful. It tastes as good as it looks too. Pera and I actually had a nibble of a few blades to become one with the pitch and remove any bad energy.”
The Gisborne men possibly failed to remove all of the bad energy grass.
The Black Caps tied with England in the final and play-off Super Over so the match was decided on boundaries, of which England, with 24, had amassed more than New Zealand (16).