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A Catch Up with Warren "Wazza" McSkimming

By Aiden McLaughlin - Republished from Outright #54

When Warren McSkimming retired, his former Otago captain Craig Cumming said that the man known as Wazza “represented everything which was good in cricket.” It’s a widely held feeling about someone who always put the team first during his career.

“People ask me about culture a lot. It’s a word that gets thrown around. I think the biggest thing about culture is when you look at somebody, whether it’s in a work environment or a team environment and you’ve got to want them to do well,” says McSkimming.

A self-described ‘domestic battler’, McSkimming was born and raised in the Central Otago town of Oturehua. He has overwhelmingly positive memories of growing up on the family farm, a love of the rural lifestyle that he still holds and has encouraged in his two daughters, Ava, 12 and Mila, 10.

McSkimming, now 44, represented Otago with distinction for 13 seasons before retiring in 2012 after 69 first-class matches. An impressive right-arm fast-medium bowler, he took 240 wickets at 24.37, as well as another 117 wickets in 96 one-day games and 19 wickets in 25 T20 appearances. He also scored 1705 runs at first-class level, including one century.

“It was a phenomenal 12 years of my life. It was an absolute privilege. I had the opportunity for a trial and got picked for Otago when I was 19. Back then it was pretty amateur, we didn’t train a lot, maybe a couple of hours, three days a week,” says McSkimming.

“Then these contracts came in where they were offering $12,000 or $13,000, which was great for a 19 or 20-year-old. Then I got picked for the New Zealand Cricket Academy at Lincoln. My intake was Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Jamie How. That was great, although I ended up getting a stress fracture with the amount of indoor bowling you had to do. That was the start of my back problems,” he says.

Other injuries, alongside those back problems, came along far too often in McSkimming’s career and one sticks out more than the rest.

“I broke my jaw in a T20 game against Northern Districts in 2006. I was bowling to Joseph Yovich at the death and he hit the ball back and it hit me flush on the jaw and I broke my jaw in eight places. It was rough. The week before that I got called up to go to India for the ICC Champions League. Shane Bond had got injured and I had to fly to Wellington to get visa stuff sorted. Then I was told to hold off travelling but Sir Richard Hadlee said that I was going to be picked for the upcoming home ODI series against Sri Lanka about three weeks later. I thought, this is my chance, but then the next week I got hit in the face and I was out for pretty much a whole year,” he says.

When retirement started to rear its head, it became clear that the family farm on which he

was raised wasn’t big enough to support him and other family members so his Dad suggested he went off and done something else for a while. As a result, he started applying for jobs in the rural sector, becoming an area sales manager for Tru-Test, a company providing farmers with animal identification products, animal health delivery systems and identification products.

He officially retired soon afterwards, in December 2012. His wife Jodie had given birth to Mila just six weeks earlier. With Ava about to turn two just a month later, it was a busy time, but he was able to add something else which brought him back to his roots, running guided hunting trips on the weekends.

“Whenever we had overseas players playing cricket for Otago, I used to love taking them up to the farm to show them that rural experience,” McSkimming says.

“I was obviously very proud of where I was from and what my parents had created. We’d take them on farm tours and do various things like shooting guns and fishing. I guess because of my passion for showing people a good time, I’d love to be a hunting guide or run some sort of hunting business. When I started my job at Tru-Test I would do it at the weekends or take the odd days leave. Then Covid hit and I cancelled the hunters I had booked in for that season and I was out,” he says.

McSkimming is currently the New Zealand-Australia sales manager for fencing equipment supplier Stockade. He was appointed just as Covid hit, meaning Zoom calls initially became his new reality, rather than getting around to meet people.

“My job’s awesome, I love my job. I get a real mixture of dealing with people, some reps, the key accounts. It’s still rural and it’s really good,” he says.

McSkimming suffered another serious injury a few years ago, this time off the cricket field, but using his inimitable sense of humour, he still manages to raise a smile when he talks about it and see the positive side.

“On my bowling hand, the middle digit, I chopped half of that off a couple of years ago splitting some wood. Just as a bit of a joke, if people ask me now if I ever played for New Zealand, I say I wasn’t lucky enough to, but that I did pretty well with only half a finger on my bowling hand and I hold it up” he says.

“I was very lucky I didn’t take three fingers or half my hand off, because then you’re in real trouble aren’t you.”



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