They never flinched as soldiers in the trenches of an often hostile scattered catchment area of a major association but Scott Briasco and Gary Pond didn't foresee their induction as life members of Central Districts Cricket after making a muster of six this month.
"It's a fantastic recognition for what I have done and been involved with in regards to a hell of a lot of Central Districts cricket," says Briasco, revealing an illustrious kinship that began as a player in 1977.
The current CDCA operations manager and retired administrator Pond were bestowed that honour at the 70th CDCA annual meeting in Napier on Saturday, November 9.
The other inductees are former CD Hinds and White Ferns skipper Aimee Watkins, NZ Cricket match referee and former CD captain Richard Hayward, sport psychologist and Professor Emeritus Gary Hermansson and CDCA president Michael Sewell.
"Often I've heard of life members recognised when they've finished their work but I'd like to think I've got a few miles left on my clock," says Briasco.
"I'm loving what I'm doing and intent to carry on so If I'm recognised it's definitely not the end of my line as far as I'm concerned."
He says CDCA has shown over the years it's a force to be reckoned with to maintain its standards.
Briasco has relished his involvement, alongside retired CD Cricket chief executive Blair Furlong, in myriad forms, to help stage international matches "in the old days".
The retired allrounder and CD captain is a graduate of the breed of talent before professionalism took hold of domestic cricket. He also was coach and executive committee member following a playing domestic career that spanned nine summers from 1982-83 to 1991-92. It had culminated with CDCA awarding him a benefit season.
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Briasco accrued 83 first-class matches (81 of those for CD), eking out six centuries in the lower order during a career haul of 4390 runs as well as claiming 34 scalps as a bowler.
In the List A one-day format he played 52 matches (50 for CD), taking 31 wickets. He also had represented Young New Zealand in both formats in 1984/85.
Briasco represented Manawatu, Nelson and, later, Hawke's Bay at district level. He had played in Hawke Cup defences for those sides in the early 1980s. That included carving up a century for the Bay in its successful 1984 defence against Hutt Valley.
At the end of his playing career, he had embarked on a fruitful journey of serving the major association behind the scenes with administrative roles to ensure the scattered catchment area was adequately catered for. He remains a cog in the wheel in staging matches from inter-district to NZ Cricket grand final level.
In acknowledgment of his CDCA life membership, Briasco paid tribute to his wife, Julie, and daughters Caitlin and Olivia for their continued support of his cricketing career. He also hailed Furlong, the late former CDCA chairman, president and selector Basil Netten as well as patron Jock Sutherland for their input.
The longtime schoolteacher said the support of the community also was pivotal.
"I see every day as a Saturday, which these days is like seven Saturdays in a week, so it's quite busy although it's something I have a passion for and always ended up doing."
Considering himself a little long in the tooth nowadays, Briasco acknowledges the portfolio has evolved significantly during his tenure to take him out of the coaching equation in helping blood fresh talent.
"From an operational point of view it's got more physical but, I suppose, if I get smarter as I get old — some might question that — it's a situation where I'll have to slow down a little bit because I won't be able to continue doing what I used to."
However, Briasco says there's still a fair workload to sift through at the CD office relocated along Munroe St.
"If I start talking about retirement I wouldn't know what I'd be doing because it'll be such a big part of my retirement anyway."
No doubt he misses the mentoring aspect of his dynamic role over that duration but reconciles it with the intensity of the demands of that role.
"I've learned so much from Heinrich Malan when he was here so here I am at the age that I'm at where had I learned from him 30 years ago everyone would have benefited from that knowledge he can empower into people."
Briasco says Malan added value to young talent in close to a decade he had spent here. The South African-born mentor, who had missed out on the Black Caps head coach job to incumbent Gary Stead, is now at the helm of the Auckland Aces.
Pond retired two years ago after serving the major association as an administrator for more than two decades.
The Napier stalwart was instrumental in orchestrating tourneys for generations of CD age-group and Chapple Cup cricketers.
"It came out of the blue and I was very proud and honoured to be inducted into the so-called hall of fame of CD cricket," he says.
"I couldn't believe it, really, when I found out last Friday and thought someone was pulling my leg."
The bloke known in cricketing circles as "Pondy" began his association with CDCA at the invitation of former Rothmans colleague Furlong to help out in 1995.
"The season came and went and I was still there so 23 years later I was able to retire from the job."
The pair at one stage ran proceedings out of a one-room office — albeit expansive one — at the Chapman Stand pavilion at McLean Park. It was Pond's second, and last, full-time job from a sports hub that housed rugby, basketball, hockey and Sport HB. He worked for almost two years at the current venue.
He fondly recalls helping Furlong stage the first ODI in the country under floodlights at McLean Park in 1996-97 — against Zimbabwe.
"He actually ran CD Cricket on his own, which was hugely fantastic for any person to run a major association of that size."
A schoolboy cricketer who gravitated to rugby, Pond became instrumental in co-ordinating junior CD cricket that took him to other towns and cities to conduct meetings with executives from the catchment area.
"I organised the annual under-17 tournaments at Nelson Park for years and saw a lot of the current crop of Black Caps come through [there]," he says.
Pond misses the daily camaraderie of his CDCA colleagues and is mindful the life membership isn't "given out lightly".