The CEO of Hawke's Bay Cricket Association, Craig Findlay, has come under attack after scoring a blistering 307 retired from 115 balls against a schoolboy bowling attack last weekend.
Findlay, who smashed 27 sixes in his innings for his Complete Flooring Napier Technical Old Boys (NTOB), was last night having second thoughts about his mammoth feat as outraged parents, players and fans questioned his motive in the division one match against the St John's College First XI team at Nelson Park, Napier, on Saturday.
The former first-class cricketer pummelled the Hastings schoolboys into submission with a strike rate of 266.66.
Hawke's Bay Today was yesterday bombarded with website, tweet, text, phone and email messages of complaints against the former Central Districts Stag player.
Andrew Frame tweeted: "Nothing to be proud of in that game. Tech should have declared at 300-1 at the 20-over break and saved face.
"I was playing on next pitch, almost got hit by two 6s. Felt for the St Johns' boys. Unfair contest, really."
Frame went on to say: "Bit of a farce overall. Not good for the game."
Megan Singleton said: "Can't believe the cricket CEO retired on 300. Some of those kids were 15 and completely demoralised. What a guy!
"That CEO should be nurturing these players not trying to show off and have his score on back page."
Yesterday St John's team captain James McNatty said he pleaded with Findlay to retire after just 23 overs of the 45-over affair "because it was really getting out of hand" but the former Hawke's Bay senior men's representative said he'd think about it.
"After another seven overs I asked him again but he just walked away and carried on batting," said McNatty who then approached the 42-year-old's former CD teammate, Mike Pawson, thinking he was the skipper but to no avail.
"Mike said there were only a few more overs to go and to keep our chins up," the 16-year-old said last night, bereft of ideas after using every member of his team, bar the wicketkeeper to roll their arms.
"There was nothing I could do so I used everyone to have a go," said the first-year captain whose players are predominantly 15 to 16-year-olds.
"We were just glad to get off the field but we're still determined to stay in the grade," he said of a team that has lost a few seventh-formers.
He said what compounded the problem was another premier club batsman and ex-Bay rep Bronson Meehan who has returned from Australia.
Meehan, who was out in the 28th over as NTOB amassed 578 runs, played his first premier club cricket match of the season on Sunday.
McNatty's mother, Michele, speaking on behalf of the players' parents, said they had heard even before the game on Saturday Findlay was going to "teach the schoolboys a lesson" because they were not good enough to be in the two-tier revamped senior men's grade.
Findlay last Monday contacted outgoing St John's principal Neal Swindells to ask the team to consider dropping to division two because they weren't competitive enough in the first round but the First XI coach declined.
Michele said: "I'm just so disappointed in the way they used our boys to prove a point."
Other schools in the grade were having the same problem.
She said Findlay had the audacity to say the boys were not good enough and that he didn't train but he had been playing consistently every summer after retiring from the prem grade two years ago.
"How would Finns [Findlay] feel if some day someone like him bullies his young boy [Toby, 10] on the park as a batsman or bowler?"
She said it was even worse that his father, Harry Findlay, the HBCA president, was sitting at Nelson Park pavilion telling other youngsters they should emulate Craig if they wanted to be good as he was and that also was wrong.
"Our boys came off the park with their heads up.
"Craig shouldn't have taken it out on our boys if he couldn't take it out on adult [Swindells]."
She said three other high schools and one club team also had not registered any points in the division, too.
St John's have won one game, against Celtics, in seven rounds to date.
Swindells, who is coaching for the last time this Saturday before heading off to St Pat's College in Wellington to assume the mantle of rector, said St John's had earned their place in division one but if at the end of the season they were last they would drop to division two.
He was loathe to judge Craig Findlay's knock because the cricketer had not broken any rules.
"Craig's has every right to play in the grade. We can't really complain about that.
"But there's something in the air that does not feel right and you can see that."
Swindells said "this has happened before and happens from time to time".
His team were demoralised and had not learned anything from last Saturday's flogging although they had beaten Tech when Findlay wasn't playing for them early this season.
"St John's has had an input in Hawke's Bay cricket ... we'll be back, don't worry, whatever the Craig Findlays do."
Findlay last night said he was disappointed with the public's reaction.
He had played in the seniors grade as a former NBHS cricketer and had also "looked up" to former first-class players to hone their skills.
"I now have other boys looking forward to having a crack at me so it's a great opportunity for them to get a former first-class cricketer out."
Findlay said what it effectively meant was people not wanting him to play.
While he could still play in the premier grade Findlay said he had a young family and didn't want the commitment of training and long days at the weekend.
"I played hard so that's why I won a lot," he said, adding that was his goal as cricket boss to ensure the young built a steely resolve.
"To create champions you have to be tough. I'm not allowed to play and I have others telling me where I can bat and when not to play," he said, adding it appeared the Bay was going down a slippery track to a "PC world".
Board chairman Derek Stirling, a former New Zealand international, said his phone was running hot all day from calls and texts and he had discussed the issue with Findlay.
"Did he go too far? Morally, yes."
It was, Stirling said, a conundrum because they were concerned their boys had taken a hammering but they also wanted to retain 25 to 35-year-old cricketers in the Bay club competition.
Debate on this article is now closed.
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