Stephen Fleming, Brendon McCullum and other reputed former and current New Zealand cricketers are set to take on a team from the country's rugby side All Blacks in a charity Twenty20 game in Christchurch next January.
The match, on January 25 at the Hagley Oval, is a brainchild of Fleming and David Higgins of Duco Events and is modelled roughly on South Africa's Mandela Trophy where the Springboks play against the Proteas cricket side. The proceeds from the game will be used for the benevolent funds of the rugby and cricket player associations.
Fleming will be the player and coach of Team Cricket while McCullum, Grant Elliott, Luke Ronchi and Kyle Mills are other confirmed participants. Nathan Astle and Chris Harris, the former cricketers, are also likely to feature in the game. Each team will also have an 'international superstar' as the organisers aim to fill in the void of major events in Christchurch since the earthquake in 2011.
Meanwhile, the All Blacks side will be led by Kieran Read and also feature Jordie Barrett, Leon MacDonald and Israel Dagg. Sir Graham Henry, who played first-class cricket for Canterbury and Otago, will be their coach.
The game is expected to be competitive as many in Team Rugby had played cricket at various levels before choosing rugby as a career. Dagg was a fast bowler who hurried up the visiting Australians as a 16-year-old, while captain Read played age-group cricket for Northern Districts before a knee injury led him towards rugby.
"I'm going to be a bit nervous, to be honest," Read was quoted as saying by stuff.co.nz. "You lose your hand-eye (co-ordination) pretty quick in this game. I'll have to get out and hit a few balls to get my eye back in.
"We'll take the underdog status. Obviously, going up against cricketers at their own game they should be wiping the floor with us. We'll try and stay under the radar and try and surprise them as much as we can."
Fleming, meanwhile, said their reputations were at stake and stressed his side would be on 'high alert'.
"I thought if we had the opportunity with a brand as big as the All Blacks, it would pique my interest," Fleming told the Herald. "There is almost a bit of romanticism around this one, bringing a game to Christchurch in its rebuild.
"We're putting our reputations on the line here. We know just how good the likes of Kieran and his rugby mates are at cricket. They're exceptional athletes and many of them could have been international cricketers had they chosen another path. So we're on high alert, that's for sure."
Live Score, News & WC 2019 Updates