Mathew Sinclair isn't sure if Jordie Barrett remembers it but the former Black Cap vividly recalls the All Black utility back chugging in to try to bounce him out with his out swingers as a Taranaki new-ball merchant five years ago.
Barrett and his bowling attack didn't succeed that day, enabling Sinclair to come away with a century for the Hawke's Bay senior men's representative team in that one-day Chapple Cup affair at Nelson Park, Napier, but the retired Bay player/coach of that year says you can't have that sort of carry on now.
"We just can't have those bloody rugger heads beating us at our own game," says the 44-year-old from Napier, before he joins player/coach Stephen Fleming's Team Cricket to put Team Rugby in their rightful place when the dust settles at McLean Park during the televised 4pm start of the 20/20 Black Clash on Friday, January 17. Team Rugby had won the inaugural match at Lincoln, near Christchurch, last year.
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"It's always good to get among your mates again so it would be quite cool to take on these rugby guys to be part of the action, more than anything," says Sinclair, who will have former international and ex-Central Districts Stag Jacob Oram, of Palmerston North, alongside him.
"I know every blade of grass at McLean Park so it'll be a good start getting out and about catching up with them [players] again and playing on the big stage."
The adroit batsman was itching to play when he received a call from former cricket international Glen Sulzberger, of the players' association, although Napier City Council employee Kevin Murphy had sounded him out a few months earlier.
The clash is the brainchild of former Black Caps skipper Fleming and Duco Events founder/director David Higgins. The inaugural one at Hagley Park, Christchurch, last year brought fans together to celebrate both codes to help raise money for the welfare funds for the New Zealand Rugby and Cricket Players' Associations.
Loosely based on South Africa's Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup module — a biennial charity cricket match in which the Springboks take on the Proteas — the event entices predominantly former and current All Blacks and Black Caps. Last year it was reportedly the most watched live cricket event in New Zealand in the past 10 years, luring more than a million viewers.
"There are a lot of people involved in the background in trying to have it up and running so it looks like now we've got the players, which should make for a fun-packed night," says The Station Napier Old Boys' Marist (NOBM) cricketer.
Sinclair says any match at McLean Park is special, considering it is his home ground, as much as Nelson Park across the road.
"I can't remember the last time I played at McLean Park but I go there quite a bit to watch games and stuff."
He's seen some transformations at the venue, including drop-in wickets, but nothing will erase his fond memories.
Coach/selector Sir Graham Henry's Team Rugby have recruited the services of Sri Lanka greats Muttiah Muralitharan and Mahela Jayawardene.
"I've already got psychological issues so I'm thinking I might have to face him if I'm opening batting," says Sinclair of legendary right-arm off break spinner Muralitharan who is reportedly rolling his arm in helping his teenage son, Naren, in the nets in Colombo.
"When someone said Murali was playing again, I thought, 'Oh god, no, he gets me out every bloody time," he says with a laugh. "He's such an enigma that I can't pick any of his deliveries, mate, to be honest but I'll have to come up with something."
A real estate agent with Harcourts in the past six years, Sinclair had accrued 33 caps in the test arena and 54 ODI ones. He shares the world record for the highest test score of 214 runs at first drop on debut — against West Indies in the 1999 Boxing Day Test. He had followed that with an unbeaten 204 runs against Pakistan the following summer but struggled to find continuity with the New Zealand men's team.
The right-hander, who played for CD from 1995-96 before retiring in 2012-13, remains the domestic men team's all-time highest run-scorer, with more than 20,000 runs across the three formats and had averaged more than 40 when he had retired at 37.
With Fleming still to announce an international wildcard, Sinclair reckons someone of the ilk of former Black Caps strike bowler Shane Bond, coaching in the Big Bash in Australia, will be godsend, "coming off a short run up or something like that".
"It's quite funny because I have a few mates who've said, 'Skip, I see there's a spot available so could you talk to Flem to see if I can get in'. So, yeah, you can go in to face Murali, boys."
Sinclair says anything to do with All Blacks prompts fans to flock to the park so that's what, apparently, fuels the bullish TV viewership of the 20/20 Black Clash.
He knows former All Black Israel Dagg was a quick bowler for the Lindisfarne College first XI side and went on to represent CD at age group level.
"He is a good bowler but I haven't faced him but the others I have no idea so I might have to target others to have a chance."
Sinclair says it's the rugger boys' hand-eye co-ordination, combined with their mental fortitude at an elite level, that makes them a handful.
"These guys obviously love their sports all the way to cricket, rugby and whatever," says the bloke who played fullback for Kia Toa club in Palmerston North when former All Black Christian Cullen was first five-eighth.
"That's the beauty about sport because you see people play and then see them progress through life and find yourself say, 'I've played alongside him' so it's pretty cool."
For the record, Sinclair had mentored All Black Brad Weber in PE at Napier Boys' High School.
"Now they're playing cricket so as soon as they step over it's white-line fever, mate."
Sinclair, through former Black Cap international and NOBM stalwart Llorne Howell, is involved in running St Francis Cricket Academy at a private school in Bengaluru, India.
He visits the academy twice a year, after it was established more than three years ago and has in excess of 250 members. A Kiwi India co-ordinator, Navin Kaipu, had approached him through retired international and TV commentator Kyle Mills and the rest is history.
CD Stags assistant coach Luke Ronchi, who was born in Dannevirke, also is in Team Cricket.
• Team Rugby: Richie McCaw, Israel Dagg, Jason Spice, Ofisa Tonu'u, Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Kaylum Boshier, Derren Witcombe, Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardene.
Coach/selector: Sir Graham Henry.
• Team Cricket: Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori, Nathan Astle, Grant Elliott, Jacob Oram, Hamish Marshall, Chris Harris, Kyle Mills, Luke Ronchi, Nathan McCullum, Mathew Sinclair, plus an international wildcard to be named.
Coach/captain: Stephen Fleming.