Christchurch earthquake: Movers and shakers at cricket fundraiser

By Dylan Cleaver

Have you seen Russell Crowe in Christchurch?
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Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Mark Mitchell

When Johnny met Warnie yesterday, the Basin Reserve became the perfect intersection of Hollywood, the sports hall of fame and the Beehive.

Prime Minister John Key and cricket's Sultan of Spin, Australian Shane Warne, were just two of the big names who turned out for the Fill the Basin event to raise funds for the Christchurch earthquake appeal.

Sir Ian McKellen, James Nesbitt, Russell Crowe, Mark Hadlow and Martin Freeman represented the thesps.

Crowe, cousin of former New Zealand cricket captains Martin and Jeff Crowe, recalled touring Christchurch in 1986 with the Rocky Horror Show.

"I've been told the theatre's roof has collapsed, but there's no point in looking back, we've got to look forward ...

"The principal message is that New Zealanders, from all walks of life and wherever they are in the world, are 100 per cent behind the people of Canterbury and the city of Christchurch."

Richie McCaw, sans moon-boot, did a spot of umpiring, as did Conrad Smith. Graham Henry and Wayne Smith were in attendance. Tana Umaga did more than that. He had Craig McMillan caught behind off his bowling, then took a screaming catch to dismiss Dion Nash for a duck.

As for the cricketers, it was a who's who of the country's greatest.

Sir Richard Hadlee, Stephen Fleming, the brains behind this event, Crowe, Bruce Edgar, Andrew Jones, Nathan Astle, Mark Greatbatch, Geoff Allott, Rod Latham and Ewen Chatfield were all there. Some had impressive paunches, some looked like they could play for New Zealand again tomorrow.

The can't-miss event was Key squaring off against Warne. Giving it a pistols-at-dawn edge was that the PM has confessed to having a soft spot for Warne's latest squeeze, Liz Hurley.

Key, who had a secret net session at Parnell Cricket Club on Saturday, said the 22 yards he walked to take guard was like walking to the "gallows".

At stake was not life or death, but $100,000 if he could hit a boundary. A juicy full toss was slapped to the ropes - cheque, mate.

Warne said he had a love-hate relationship with New Zealanders. "I love them, they hate me. When Stephen [Fleming] rang me and I saw the pictures on TV, it was the least I could do to come over and help out."

The game ended when Umaga hit Warne for six. Somebody won, but no one cared who. The figure that truly mattered was this: more than half a million dollars was raised.

- NZ Herald

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