The astute observer would have known that the police had failed to beat a depleted Kaitaia Fire Brigade team in the annual cricket match when the eternally-bullish Dion Masters began by saying that cricket was the winner on the day.

That counted the cops out then.

Depending on who was telling the story, the fire brigade prevailed by anywhere between 10 and 60 runs, even after gifting a couple of players to the opposition so they could field a full team.

The boys and girls in blue were up against it from the start though, thanks, it is said, to Bruce McLeod's decision that fishing with his father-in-law was more important than defending the honour of the thin blue line. His dog didn't show either, depriving the police of what would no doubt have been a very off-putting wicketkeeper.

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It was the dog's replacement, Steve MacDonald, who was the police Player of the Day, however, thanks to his fearless determination to put, as Dion described it, his not inconsiderable body on the line time and again.

The cops had been quietly hopeful of winning, especially after deputy CFO Ross Beddows, whose elaborate birthday celebrations had forced the postponement of the match some weeks earlier, apparently injured himself while keeping the score, although he did wield a bat late in the piece, possibly making all the difference.

Even more promisingly, CFO Craig Rogers, who, judging by his reputation should be playing in the IPL, was unavailable. That was generally considered to be worth a half-century, but in the end it wasn't enough.

Most galling of all, Acting Sergeant Masters, miffed by the brigade's apparent reluctance to play the game, raided the station during a Wednesday night practice not so long ago, and citing the Search and Surveillance Act, attempted to seize the trophy, claiming that was the only way the police were going to get it their hands on it. As it happened, he was right.