Form is temporary, class is permanent.

Sir Richard Hadlee is living evidence of this.

Known as Paddles, (apparently he has big feet, I didn't notice) Sir Richard spoke to a group of cricket enthusiasts this week in Whangarei, at Cobham Oval.

He was promoting a book, but most people were there for a chance to see and here one of the few New Zealanders deserving of the status "legend".


The book is The Skipper's Diary. It is the story of the NZ cricket team's tour of England in 1949, as seen through the eyes of Sir Richard's father Walter Hadlee.

At $79.95 ($750 for the souvenir edition) it is worth noting that some proceeds from the sale of the book go to the NZ Cricket Museum, The Cricket Live Foundation and the Cricketers Trust.

The book has been a passionate project for Sir Richard, and the diary recreates the performance of the team, the challenges of the era (no one got sent home with injuries, the boat trip was too long) and also offers insight into the sporting personality of Walter Hadlee CBE.

Walter was a solid opening batsman for New Zealand, and a respected captain.

Coincidentally, yesterday was the 11th anniversary of his death in 2006, aged 91.

The Hadlee family would no doubt have acknowledged the occasion somehow, for a man who many also consider a patriarch of New Zealand cricket.

Not only did he play, he was a respected selector, manager and administrator.

And father, by the way, of three boys - Dayle, Barry and Richard - who all played cricket for New Zealand.

Of the three, Sir Richard became the most successful test bowler that his country - at one point the world - had ever seen.

They eyes of young cricketers at Thursday's event widened when they heard the frequency with which Sir Richard would take wickets - well ahead of most modern-day fast bowlers.

Cricketing formats may have changed but the basic challenge of a bowler has remained the same since the game's invention, hurl a ball in cricket's unique manner toward a batter and try and get them out.

As MC Brian Johnston introduced Sir Richard and ran through some statistics, the crowd were reminded they were in the presence of a legend.

Sir Richard's willingness to engage with the younger members of Thursday's crowd stood out, he was eager - without being overly earnest - to pass on some of what he has learned.

He shared his thoughts on the physical and mental side of the game and what drove him. He sometimes used the media to set goals, publicly stating that he was hoping to take "x" no of wickets, putting the goal out there publicly as an incentive to succeed.

He shared some psychology regarding the best place to bowl to a batter, to give yourself the most chances of a wicket.

The verbal abuse from the Bay 13 crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground was harsh, but it drove Sir Richard. He took more wickets against Australia than any other nation.

His recall of people, places and performances was impressive.

He also shared that the camaraderie of the game was important.

And half an hour sharing a drink with your opponents after the match was also a great opportunity - Sir Richard reckoned he learned more about cricket in those times than any other.

Apt, given a group of keen Northland cricketers walked away on Thursday night having done just that after an hour listening to Sir Richard.