'Well, stuff ya, John. I've started my own team.' It was the night before the traditional National v Labour cricket match, and both teams were short.
The captains would be forced to import players. Thankfully the Governor-General, Anand Satyanand, who would be standing in his final match as umpire, had provided them with a list of the minor parties and contact numbers. Unfortunately, both captains soon realised they didn't have much to go on . . .
"I don't have a clue about any of these names - I really should make the effort to learn a bit about the minor parties one year," Prime Minister John Key said.
"Perhaps," Phil Goff, leader of the Labour Opposition replied. "But personally I always have more important things to do, like ridicule any of your new policies and pretend my party has better ideas."
After pondering for a few moments, Key suggested, "I guess we'll just have to close our eyes, throw a pen at the page and ring the number it hits?"
"You can if you like," Goff replied, walking away. "I've got a better idea."
Key began on the list with his pendrop method, but was having little luck. Someone did answer for the Green Party but he could hear nothing over the sounds of whale song. When he rang the New Citizens Party,avoice was ordering people to leave the country, shouting, "If in doubt, keep 'em out."
Next, Winston Peters-same thing. He caught sight of Goff walking sheepishly towards him. "Who did you decide to ring?" Key asked.
"Ah . . . never mind. You wouldn't have a spare pen would you?"
"Sure," Key replied, pulling one from his shirt pocket.
Goff thanked him, before closing his eyes and dropping the pen onto his list. It landed right on the Act Party.
Shrugging his shoulders, Goff dialled the number and waited.
"Don Brash speaking," came a voice.
"Hi Don, it's Phil Goff. I haven't got much time so I'll cut to the chase. Fancy a game of cricket for the Labour Party tomorrow?" "Hmm . . . yes, all right. As long as I can be captain," came the reply.
"But . . . but I'm captain," Goff stammered. "You'll have only just joined the team tomorrow!"
"That sort of thing's never stopped me before, has it?'"
Disgruntled, Goff hung up.
''This is much harder than I thought it would be'' he said. ''Let's just call the game off.''
"Let me have one more go," Key pleaded. He dropped his pen for one last time and it landed on the Mana Party. At last someone answered the phone. "Hone Harawira," a voice answered.
"Hi Hone - look, I need a favour. You know how you were in my cricket team last year?" "Before I was booted out? Yeah, I remember."
"Well, I'm short of a few players. I need an aggressive batsman. Do you want a game tomorrow?"
"I bowl some handy leg breaks as well. Can I be your all-rounder?"
"Um, well I've got a whole lot of guys from Australia for my spin. And I thought Gerry Brownlee fitted the 'allrounder' category pretty well so . . ."
"Well, stuff ya, John. I've started my own team and I'm not interested in joining yours unless you agree to my demands."
Key ended the call. '"Tell you what, Phil," he said. "How about we put this off until after the Rugby World Cup when people might actually be interested in us?"
Ben Smith, Year 12, Whangarei Boys' High School