1. Brendon McCullum (Black Caps)
One of half a dozen players or so to bring just such absolute delight. You had to drop everything when he was batting. There was nothing more important than watching him swivel away a pull shot or dance down the wicket to clonk one over extra cover. Baz-ball really puts global warming into perspective.
2. Geoffrey Boycott (England)
A cruel experiment to see whether it is possible to carry your bat through a T20 innings and be nought not out. Be two overs max before Baz ran him out, surely.
3. Suzie Bates (White Ferns)
One of the best female batters of all time. She is gun fielder and was a very handy seam bowler in her prime. Has been the backbone of the Otago Sparks since her debut as a 15-year-old and just as influential at international level. Very fickle with her coffee order, though.
4. Craig Cumming (Otago)
The right-hander had a stint in the national side, but it is his long and fruitful career with the Volts which sees him gain selection in this prestigious team that no-one, nowhere is talking about, including Cumming, who does love a good chat. He plodded his front pad ahead of Devon Conway because of a pathological hatred of left-handers which started when Stephen Fleming made an art form out of scoring 40 and getting out.
5. Marcus Berkmann (author and village cricketer)
Could have gone with someone who was actually good, like Viv Richards, Martin Crowe, Sachin Tendulkar or Chris Martin, who played that one glorious French cut at the University Oval. But Berkmann mounted a compelling case. He can’t bowl or field and averaged about 4 for the Captain Scott Invitational XI. But he has written two outrageously funny books about village cricket — Rain Men and Zimmer Men. Cricket is a long game and you need someone like Berkmann around for the chat.
6. Darren Stevens (County cricketer)
Me: Wait on. Didn’t you once describe the impact the all-rounder had during his stint with Otago in 2010-11 as being about the same as a feather landing on a pillow?
Also me: Ha. Yeah. Great line that.
Me: Wasn’t that good. Certainly not worth a second run. Bit like Stevens.
Me again. He got better with age.
Me: I’m pretty sure you also called him a narcoleptic trundler after he took a nap before going out to bat in a one-day preliminary final in Queenstown.
Me: Turns out all that power-napping is good for you. Stevens retired in August at 46 years young. Staggering, really. But you’re not seriously going to pick him ahead of Chris Cairns.
I chip in: The thing with Cairns is he blotted his ... how do we get out of this sentence without getting sued?
Me. You’ve used that line before, too.
I say: Been doing this nearly 20 years. Hard to come up with something fresh all the time.
Me. Or even just occasionally. But you have to pick Cairns.
Me, myself and I. Stop badgering me.
Me. You stop it. This is an internal monologue you fool.
7. Katey Martin (White Ferns)
Helped Suzie Bates carry the Sparks for decades. Retired this year but still chipping in from the sideline as part of the commentary team. The most loyal Otago player to ever pull on the strip. Had to set off for a quick single a day early, though.
8. Skudder (Addington fourth-grade cricketer)
Huffed and puffed his way in during the world’s longest run-up, but had slowed to crawl by the last few strides. Could still shoulder it in at speeds almost threatening those of the off-spinner. Skudder captained the side, so as well as opening the bowling, he would open the batting. No-one dared question that. He had accumulated more power than Daniel Vettori when Vettori was the captain, coach and selector. Skudder — a compilation of some of the characters I played cub cricket with — never saw a delivery he could not slog to cow, and once a season he blazed 50 to confirm his spot at the top of the order for all eternity. Always bought a round.
9. Jeff Wilson (Dual international)
Frittered away his best years playing rugby.
10. Richard Hadlee (God)
Would it have been blasphemous to pick Malcolm Marshall or Dennis Lillee? You’d have all three if you could.
11. Shane Warne (Australia)
Because he was the greatest spin bowler ever.
Carried the drinks throughout my "career", so why break with tradition now? Also, I had that one-net session with the Volts in 2005. James McMillan, you broke my finger!