Apr 142014

When Chris Harris sees his old, now-iconic 1992 Cricket World Cup shirt, he relives the tournament with a minute-long video is his mind.

It starts great with the side’s 37-run upset win in the tournament opener against Australia.

It carries on building its excitement levels with further wins, each one raising the drama.

Victories against Sri Lanka, South Africa and Zimbabwe flick by.Wins over the West Indies, India then England bring back the feeling of sitting on top of the nine-team table before a quick dart over a round-robin loss to Pakistan.

That’s quickly glossed over in ”Harry’s” mind-movie because it’s the next game against Pakistan which takes his focus, like a James Bond film villain.

”That game” as he calls the semi-final loss to a star-studded Pakistan side which would go on and win the tournament.

”Then you get to that game, and it’s a bit of a sad ending to the movie.”

All that from a shirt.

It was Harris’ first of four World Cups and is easily the one he’s asked most often about.

”I think there’s a resurgence of those shirts too,” he said.

”I’ve started seeing them all over the place and not just here, I was in Germany recently and saw one.”

Harris played 250 one-day games for New Zealand and jokes he wore every type of shirt made ”except the beige”, from terrible teal through a range of bizarre blues to the black they wear today.

The grey 1992 number with the multi-coloured shoulder stripes to represent the nine competing countries, instantly takes Harris, now 44, back 22 years to the first World Cup played in coloured clothing.

”I remember the whole atmosphere, of the opening match and the entire tournament, up until our last day,” he said.

”What few people remember is we’d just been beaten 3-0 by England in the buildup. We hadn’t had much success before the tournament and no-one had any reason to think that was going to change.

”Then we beat Australia in the first match and went on that run. And the whole country got in behind us, it was pretty special.”

Harris remembers the opening match with alarming accuracy.

The scores players made, who caught who, and the run-outs, though one of them was easy as it was his and cemented New Zealand’s opening match victory.

He ran David Boon out for 100 with a direct hit from the outfield.

”I remember throwing the ball and while it was still miles away, Gavin Larsen pulled his hands out of the way. I was like, ‘what are you doing, we can run him out here and win the game’. And then it hit. The crowd just went silent for what felt like a couple of seconds then just erupted.

”I don’t think they were celebrating the runout, more the fact we were going to win the game, that’s what people were reacting to.”

Harris is wrong; they were reacting to his side on, direct hit run out. It was spectacular. New Zealand went on to win the seven matches in a row before being bundled out by Pakistan in ”that game”, an Eden Park semifinal.

”In the form we were in, we probably should have gone on to win that tournament,” he said.

Harris made the quarterfinals in 1996 when, despite him scoring a career high 130, New Zealand were unable to tip over Australia.

He was part of the 1999 campaign in England knocked out in the semifinals, again by Pakistan and went to the 2003 tournament in South Africa where New Zealand would have made the semifinals, but for refusing to play in Kenya.

”They’re all a bit special to me to be honest. A World Cup is a really special thing to be a part of. But it’s hard to go past the 1992 experience, that’s for sure.”

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Oct 162013
An important seat has become vacant

Frank Skinner often talks about there being different ‘seats’ for public figures. The premise is that there are certain timeless jokes which require a well-known figure with certain characteristics for the punchline and there always has to be someone to fulfil that role. The person may change, but the joke does not. There is a thick seat, a fat seat and a load of others we can’t remember off the top of our head.

The same applies in cricket. You want a cricketer who loves his food – you’ll probably still go for Mike Gatting. You want to say something about innocuous Kiwi all-rounders – Chris Harris.

We sometimes find need to call upon the person sitting in a seat which could be labelled: ‘Terrible cricketer who somehow keeps getting recalled to play for his country even though he is almost entirely without ability and there are plenty of better options available’.

Up until this week, that seat was occupied by Ajit Agarkar. But alas, no longer, for he has retired from cricket many years too late.

Which occasional international cricketer could possibly replace him?

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Jan 142013
New Zealand welcome opportunity to pretend they would have liked the opportunity to salvage some pride

This website is against two-Test series, but some people like them. Secretly, New Zealand will be delighted that they don’t have to adopt stern facial expressions in order to state that they are desperate to make amends for previous performances in the third Test.

Instead, the players can claim to want the opportunity to try and make amends without having to actually test whether they can. They can say what they like.

The second Test was just about as bad as the first with South African batsmen scoring hundreds for fun shortly before all of New Zealand’s batsmen scored a hundred between them without there being even the faintest whiff of fun.

Bring back Chris Harris.

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