Episode 14 of Through the Pickets is out now. In this edition we speak with Blackcaps spinner Ajaz Patel who chats about growing up in India before coming to New Zealand at the age of eight. He discusses 10 wicket haul in Mumbai the city where he was born and what that meant to him, becoming a father, his many interests outside of cricket and life after the game. Listen where you get your podcasts, or click on one of the images.
Episode 13 of Through the Pickets is out now. Former Cricket Wellington and Auckland Cricket all-rounder Mayu Pasupati discusses his incredible career with global medical device company Medtronic, his playing days including that spectacular catch in the 2002 State Shield Final, and growing up in Wellington's Hutt Valley in a conservative household where academia was the primary focus far more than sport. Listen where you get your podcasts or click on one of the images
BY MARGOT BUTCHER - REPUBLISHED FROM OUTRIGHT #48
Cricket might be one of the few arenas in which compartmentalising is viewed as a positive life skill. For Seth Rance, it’s essential.
For instance, there was that day over the Christmas period this summer when he turned up to Central Stags training fresh off having dealt with a motor vehicle accident the previous day in which a person lost their life.
“The guys, I don’t think they realise. They have no idea that you have that in the back of your mind - and that’s good in the sense that cricket is its own little world, and that helps take your mind off things.”
Rance, 34, is a longtime volunteer firefighter in his home town of Greytown, Wairarapa. He went down to the station when he was 16 - the minimum age - to ask if he could join, and has been off on callouts at all hours almost ever since.
Recently, he was one of the youngest in New Zealand appointed to be a Senior Station Officer — a role that brings added responsibility. And while it’s not all taking kids for rides on the firetruck and rescuing cats in trees, that compartmentalisation can be a useful two-way street for sport, as well.
“If I’m not playing as well as I want to or I haven’t had the greatest game, when I go back to Greytown life, it can be a nice distraction.
“That’s part of why I like living here. I get a complete chance to get away from the pressures of cricket, have that balance and break with family, and other things in my life — and I’m always busy.”
Being a professional cricketer in Greytown means a home game is never at home. Even by CD standards, Rance clocks up a fair few travel miles, as one of the only Stags outside the team’s Hawke’s Bay epicentre.
But juggling a busy life and time management skills were things he learnt early.
At 18, Rance went straight from high school into a building apprenticeship — a bonus from having volunteered himself as a firefighter. One of the officers in the brigade was in the trade, and offered to take him on.
“It turned out to be a good option for me in several different ways,” Rance reflects.
“I loved my sport, but I had injuries, and playing cricket professionally came along a bit later for me, in my case. I did my ankle, and then my shoulder. That put me out for about three years in my early 20s, so that’s when I finished my building apprenticeship. The positive side of it is that it allowed me to settle into Greytown life and get a career behind me, without cricket being there.”
Of course, if someone had told him then not to worry, he was going to go on and have a significant cricket career regardless and play 10 international matches for the BLACKCAPS, he might not have quite believed them.
But, he eventually cracked the Stags, making a head-turning HRV Cup debut in 2010 in which he bowled Craig McMillan with an absolute gem amid a T20 haul of 4-13 in Nelson. He played the rest of the season, but missed out on a contract.
“Back then, there were only about 12 contracts. In fact, I think Adam Milne got the last one which at the time I was pissed off about. But I can see why now!”
Rance stayed hungry.
“One reason for that was that building had allowed me to see what was on the other side of the fence. Getting up every day and having to go to work. Waking up at 6am. Digging holes in mud on cold mornings to make a living. I still don’t take playing professional cricket for granted.”
He was a late bloomer for the BLACKCAPS as well, 29 when he got the call.
“But in a way, I’m glad that’s how it happened. That I started later— because now, even though I’m 34, I feel like I’m a ‘younger 34’ than perhaps if I’d been playing for 15 odd years. I still have the enthusiasm, and appreciate the opportunities.”
This season, things have been going better than ever for the prodigious swinger of the ball. The in-swinger was always a weapon, but the out-swinger used to be a wild child, testing the keeper.
“In years gone by, that’s been a work-on. But this season I’ve been confident to use it in a game and it’s showed that, when I’m fit and able to run in hard, cricket can still be fresh and enjoyable. I do feel like I am bowling as well as I ever have, with my outswinger being more of a weapon.”
Come May, he will have clocked up 18 years in the fire service. There are some 20 colleagues in the Greytown brigade who can cover when he’s away with the Stags, and he and wife Suze and their young kids were able to enjoy an off-season in Furness in the UK a few winters ago.
Greytown always lures him back.
“I love living in a small town community, and I’m proud of being able to do what I do from here and represent the Wairarapa as well,” says Rance.
“The firefighting is an extra dimension to that and gives me a brilliant balance between cricket and coming home.
“There have been times when I have come back from a game of cricket and literally within 10 minutes of saying hi to the kids, I’ve got the callout and had to go. That’s what you need to be ready to do to help people out in the time of need, and you’re meeting people in the community, building those relationships that are pretty key in a small town, and it’s something different every time. Plus, there’s no greater satisfaction than to be able to help someone in serious need, and then you bump into them in the street six months later and they’re here and doing great.”
His life of high-energy pursuits has made him a better person, he feels. He’s learned how to work in different environments, around different teams and personalities, and under pressure.
“In cricket, building and fire-fighting, people are depending on you to do a good job. You’re under pressure in all three to make good decisions consistently, that affect the outcomes. I enjoy being busy, and I think the three work together for me well now.
“It’s nice as a player, too, to know in the future that I’ve got my business, and I can lean into that in the future if I have to pull the pin on cricket, or it suddenly stops. My wife Suze has also got a hair salon that we manage. Looking back now, it’s great to have been able to grow these things and it’s allowing me to keep playing cricket for as long as I can.”
After a long and successful career, today is NZCPA board member Ross Taylor's last match for the Blackcaps who face The Netherlands, best of luck for the match and your next chapter. Ross was a recent guest on Through the Pickets, if you haven't listened to it yet, it is available wherever you get your podcasts or click on the image to the right.
Episode 12 of Through the Pickets is out now. Netherlands lnternational and Otago Volts spinner Michael Rippon discusses the Netherlands series v Blackcaps , his off-field interests including videography and video editing with team mate Josh Finnie, and the day Jacques Kallis knocked on his door to play some backyard cricket when he was a kid. Listen where you get your podcasts or click on one of the images.
Episode 11 of Through the Pickets is out now. In this edition former White Fern and Football Fern Rebecca Rolls discusses a wide range of topics including winning the Cricket World Cup in 2000, going to the FIFA Women's World Cup and Olympics not to mention her incredible life outside of sport as an investigator for the NZ Police, Serious Fraud Office and more. Most recently Rebecca has been appointed Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Sport NZ. An amazing conversation, listen wherever you get your podcasts or click on one of the images.
The Summer edition of Outright magazine is out now.
The summer of cricket has been exciting, albeit impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic once again, which continues to provide a myriad of challenges for our members and all stakeholders in the game.
The biggest of these challenges was the continual amendment of the playing schedule to allow all formats of the game to proceed, and changes to the international calendar saw Blackcaps players turning out for their domestic teams in a well contested and exciting Super Smash.
In this edition we speak to the record holder for most appearances in all formats of the game Ross Taylor who announced his retirement from the Blackcaps and fittingly took the last wicket in his final test against Bangladesh. Also featuring is another big contributor to the game National Personal Development Manager Sanjewa Silva, who after a decade at the CPA is moving on. We look back on his tenure and the incredible growth and development the programme has seen under his watch. We catch up with World Cup winner Catherine Campbell and reflect on the last time NZ hosted the tournament and her twenty plus years of contribution to the sport, and we speak with Central Districts player Seth Rance and learn about his off-field activities. To read these articles and more please click on the image of the magazine cover, we hope you enjoy this edition of Outright and wish you all the best over the remainder of summer.
Episode 10 of Through The Pickets is out now. Blackcaps legend Ross Taylor talks to us about his incredible 16 year career and the milestones he's achieved. He shares his decision to retire, family and sitting on the board of the NZCPA not to mention his chance encounter with Akon and Roger Federer and how he fell in love with the game.. Available on all your favourite podcast apps, or click on the link below to listen.
Whilst travelling from Hamilton to Auckland after visiting a NZCPA member one thing becomes clearly evident in regards to the man in the passenger’s seat of the vehicle, outgoing National PDM Sanj Silva, and that is his huge level of humility.
The two-hour journey was the perfect time to chat and ask Sanj to reflect on his ten-year career at the NZCPA. For the entire trip he was constantly downplaying the impact and legacy he leaves with the CPA’s highly regarded Personal Development Programme (PDP), using phrases such as “we did it, it was a collective effort, I didn’t do it alone.”
The reality is closer to the way NZCPA CEO Heath Mills describes it “ Sanj has done an outstanding job in growing and developing our Personal Development Programme into what I believe is one of the best of its kind in the world. I have no doubt he has been able to grow the programme to what it is today because of his personal qualities which are so aligned with his work. He is very capable, totally committed and always professional. But most importantly he is kind, caring, patient, considerate and will always help anyone in need – he is a great guy whom we’ve been lucky to have at the NZCPA for so long.
Through his work in the development of the PDP he has had a huge impact on our game and its professional players – he leaves the NZCPA with a programme that is world class, respected but most importantly delivers for our people. He can be very proud of the contribution he has made.“
When Sanj started in the role at the NZCPA, Sanj was the only person looking after the needs of all our professional players - in a programme which had poor engagement (around 20-30%), limited resources and with the majority of players unsure of what they wanted to do when they exited from cricket. What was implemented over the next decade evolved into the four key pillar’s which form the foundation of the programme - Education, Risk Management, Self-Development and Well-Being.
Sanj leadership began with the employment of a second Personal Development Manager in 2014, and the success of the programme has enabled further expansion to what is now a PD team of five full time employees catering for our current and past playing members.
As our trip continued so did his humility. The proud father and husband understating how he recognised the importance of the programme being totally independent from cricket’s high-performance system and team based PDM’s. The priority being to ensure members can trust the programme and its people completely being the foundation of what Sanj has built within the programme and the PD team. The fact players can trust a programme as being totally independent and focussed solely on them as an individual, with no consideration or involvement of their cricket performance has always been key.
“I just did my job and we did it as an organisation,” Silva said.
The Mental Well Being Programme which was created in 2013 is one of the key and most used services by our members, another feather in Sanj’s cap. Along the way the former Auckland, CD and Sri Lanka A representative worked collaboratively with the NZC High Performance team to portray the importance of the programme alongside their performance on the field.
NZCPA Board Member and Blackcap Ross Taylor was full of praise for the man who has become a close friend is stating “when Sanj started there wasn’t a lot of buy-in or support for players, little by little he kept adapting the PD Programme to suit player need and into what have available today.
Sanj and the PD team have always been there and looked after current and past players’ well-being. It is no exaggeration that he’s played a big part in my career.”
Ish Sodhi is another player with a long-standing relationship and respect for Sanj, sharing “I've known Sanj since I was 14, well before he started with the CPA. He has had an incredible impact on many of the players that he has worked with, and I am no different.
We will miss Sanj dearly, his work with the PD programme has always gone above and beyond and we could not be more appreciative. I know if I was ever in the ring, I’d have Sanj in my corner! We wish him nothing but the best with his future endeavours.”
Not widely publicised due to its sensitive and confidential nature the work Silva has done with many past players who have fallen on hard times – for them, this has often been life changing. Sanj identified early that The Cricketers Trust was a great safety net, but there was an opportunity to be more proactive before this got too fire – which led to the focus on services for past players which ultimately created a Past Player PDM role to focus on career transition and to more closely case manage those past players who required help and support.
Through Silva’s efforts over the past decade, that low member engagement in 2012 has been turned completely around, with meaningful player engagement numbers now consistently exceeding 90%. That is incredible and shows just how ingrained, relevant and valued the PD service is to our membership. The benefits are not just reflected indirectly in cricket performance, but increasingly flowing through into a more deliberate and planning transition into a career and life outside cricket.
When our car pulled in to drop Sanj off at home after our trip (which was typically another meaningful engagement with a player) Sanj shared one last point. “The number one thing for me was to make sure that we looked after our members holistically, and to put a structure in place that services their needs. I’ve loved my time at the NZPCA and have no doubt our new National PDM Lesley Elvidge will take things to the next level when I go.”
Silva’s legacy is that he has converted a problem into a strength for the NZCPA. The investment made by players into the PD programme is something they are all very proud of, and all our members are hugely indebted to the way Sanj has curated the programme for their ongoing benefit.
Although we are sad to see Sanj go, being a life member, he will forever be a part of the NZCPA in future. We wish Sanj all the best in his new role and thank him greatly for what he has done for the NZCPA and our members over the years.
THe NZCPA have a special edition for episode 9 which was originally recorded for our Spring edition of our Players magazine Outright- you can find a copy on our website https://www.nzcpa.co.nz/publications. In this podcast we spoke with former Auckland Aces bowler Jamie Brown who was struck down with Guillian Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder in which your body's immune system attacks your nerves. He was just days into a new job in the off-season with kiwi company Halter who design solar powered smart collars for animals and was weighing up a cricket contract just before the start of the summer. To listen click on the image right or below.