They say one father is more than a hundred schoolmasters and no one can attest to that better than Hawke's Bay cricket stalwart Harry Findlay.

So when son Craig, the CEO of Hawke's Bay Cricket, started his run-up in the quest to record history about 18 months ago Findlay, the 76-year-old retired headmaster, gallantly asked for middle and leg.

The question: "Craig said to me 'New Zealand cricket and rugby players all have their numbers and people recognise them so is there any possibility we can come up with the numbers of Hawke's Bay [senior men's] cricketers?'"

Not one to shy away from a challenge, never mind accept defeat, the senior Findlay, who is the HB Cricket Association statistician, offered to give it a go no matter how daunting it appeared to be at the time.

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"For a while I did it very religiously for many hours and then I gave it away because I thought 'There's time so we'll get it done'."

But three months ago Craig's delivery mutated into a rib-tickling bouncer when he suddenly informed Findlay the deadline had to be the end of November, before the first Furlong Cup home match for the Jacob Smith-skippered Bay men in Napier.

No problem. Findlay the superhero dad didn't play bat/pad. Instead he took the deadline in his stride and executed a well-timed hook shot. The rest is ... well ... history.

"We did this because we want the current crop of boys who play for Hawke's Bay to value our history," says Findlay with a laugh, revealing he appreciates history more now than he ever did as a subject in school.

On Thursday, November 29, a legion of former and current players gathered at the RC MacInnes Pavilion at Nelson Park for a capping dinner to officially acknowledge the initiation and accomplishments of 882 Bay men's representatives dating back to the first match on January 17, 1874.

Addressing an expectant audience who tucked into an Indian buffet meal, Findlay told them while players didn't necessarily use statistics as a catalyst to performance there was usually great pride when players eclipsed someone's efforts.

"Sport is an amazing thing but the history of sport is even more amazing so I just love it."

Craig Findlay, the CEO of Hawke's Bay Cricket, got the ball rolling. Photo/Corena Hodgson
Craig Findlay, the CEO of Hawke's Bay Cricket, got the ball rolling. Photo/Corena Hodgson

The former Bay association administrator said while technology had made the task easier nowadays in the past the association had some very capable record keepers. "But there was no consistency and there was difficulty in continuity," he said. "Results of games were kept accurately season by season but there were none regularly accumulated."

Findlay had painstakingly pored through NZ Cricket archives and almanacs, HBCA annual reports, newspaper reports (by Russell Williamson and Brent Reid), and talked to regional identities, such as ex-CD administrator Bob Mitchell and CD CEO Blair Furlong, as well as read Frank Cane's and T.W. Reese's books.

"But all my effort has been overshadowed," he said.

Enter Tim Wright, of New Plymouth, who Findlay met five years ago. That led to numerous discussions and research as the pair exchanged folders.

Not having heard from Wright almost three years ago Findlay assumed the project was in recess but, to his surprise, two weeks before the capping night he received seven folders with comprehensive summaries.

"Now that he's compiled all his bits and pieces he's taken the pressure off what I have done so I'm now using his reports and mine to collate material to make sure we match," he says of the work still in progress in the quest for something that may fall shy of 100 per cent.

"We're still arguing over four games because we're not 100 per cent sure about them," he says with a grin.

No doubt, there were times when scores weren't recorded accurately so in the absence of details some statistics will remain inconclusive.

"Of the 687 or so games that we have played about five are missing so we're pretty pleased with that."

Wright was a good friend of former association stalwart, the late Les Jones, of Napier. The former was a librarian and the latter a bookworm.

"He and Les used to talk cricket for hours and Les provided him with Wisden almanacs and magazines to read."

Furlong, who played in our most successful Hawke Cup era from the late 1968-69 squad, presented numbered caps to the current players.

Lloyd Singleton (back, left), Blair Furlong, Don Beuth, Howard Richardson and Murray Baker. Front: David Selby (left), Pat O'Shaughnessy, Richard Small (c) and Ian Woon. Photo/Corena Hodgson
Lloyd Singleton (back, left), Blair Furlong, Don Beuth, Howard Richardson and Murray Baker. Front: David Selby (left), Pat O'Shaughnessy, Richard Small (c) and Ian Woon. Photo/Corena Hodgson

Hastings-born captain Richard Small, now living in Hamilton, joined eight fellow 1968-69 team-mates also received their caps.

Small, who played 78 games spanning 15 seasons, moved to and from Hastings in 1972 because of a nomadic working life.

The 80-year-old retired agent recalled former selector, the late Greg Fifield, of Napier, had appointed him captain a year before their successful Hawke Cup challenge.

"He was a very hard-driving fitness fanatic so he became the force of a very good team," he said of a side that included the late Mike Shrimpton, a former New Zealand international, and racing trainer Murray Baker.

"Those two seasons were the most successful ones for Hawke's Bay cricket to my knowledge in my time."

Small said the remarkable thing about their outfit was someone always standing up to carve runs or claim wickets at crucial times.

He said he had kept the original cap he wore from his playing days in his suitcase of mementos but the numbered one would now take pride of place in his wardrobe.

"Coincidently it's exactly 60 years to the day when we pulled off that [Hawke Cup-winning] game against Marlborough and sadly half that team isn't with us but we really had a great time in those days."

For the record, Findlay is ready to collate the Bay women reps ... when Craig signals.

If you have any materials, information that can help Findlay please contact him on 8358191.
HB STATISTICS

The number of some recipients picked randomly:

No 1: Edward Green.

No 10: Harry Coulton.

No 20: (Not availabe) McIntosh.

No 30: Herbert Humphries.

No 40: Charles Dixon.

No 50: George Prain.

No 60: William Yates.

No 70: James Wood.

No 80: George Harden.

No 90: M Hawkins.

No 100: Edward Ludbrook.

No 150: R Orr.

No 200: Samuel Geake.

No 477: Richard Small.

No 539: Blair Furlong.

No 540: Murray Baker.

No 634: Stuart Duff.

No 636: David Caldwell.

No 676: Paul Anderson.

No 664: Paul Unwin.

No 691: Craig Findlay.

No 699: Campbell Furlong.

No 778: James de Terte.

No 810: Doug Bracewell.

No 815: Kieran Noema-Barnett.

No 816: Liam Rukuwai.

No 817: Jacob Smith.

No 848: Ajaz Patel.

No 849: Jeet Raval.

No 882: Isaiah Lange (last recipient).

HATTRICK BOYS

No 33: Henry Fannin December 25-27, 1897 (v Taranaki; 15-4-49-8).

No 114: Tom Lowry March 5, 1927 (v Wairoa; 3-7).

No 125: Ted Kavanagh Feb 1-3, 1930 (v Marylebone CC; 24.2-5-134-8).

No 201: Noel Fulford Nov 28-29, 1952 (v Poverty Bay) 3-25.

No 310: Blair Furlong, December 16-17, 1972 (vManawatu; 13.2-2-31-6).

No 625: Stevie Smidt, Oct 30, 2011 (v Manawatu; 9-0-40-3).

No 695: Joe Field, Oct 21, 2018 (v Bay of Plenty; 4-0-15-3).