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Adding Some Spice to the Road Safety World Series

Republished from Outright #52 (Autumn 2023)

You’d be forgiven if The Road Safety World Series didn’t spring to the top of your mind when it comes to cricket competitions.  But Black Clash regular, former Rugby International and former first-class cricketer Jason Spice recently returned from the tournament held in India where he represented the New Zealand Legends team.

To give you of background The Road Safety World Series is a T20 cricket tournament played between legends of eight countries India, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, England, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to create awareness for road safety in India and around the world. You may be wondering why India and why name the event the Road Safety World Series? Every year India kills a decent size nation on its roads. Around 1.5 million people are killed and more than 4.5 million are critically injured in road accidents every year. The aim is to drive social change in terms of people's outlook towards road safety through India’s national sport cricket.

So just how did the former All Black squad and Super Rugby player end up rubbing shoulders with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Brett Lee, Brian Lara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Jonty Rhodes to name but a few of the legends on display? Funnily enough it was his Black Clash colleague Anton Devcich who got on the phone to encourage Spice to play in the event. “Apparently it turned out that every team was supposed to have a cross-code player, ” recalls Spice, “so Anton (Devcich) gave me a call and said what do you think? And I went oh yeah ok I give it a go. It didn’t really hit me until it got a lot closer that this was real cricket so I had a few net sessions before I went, just in case I had to bowl.”

As one could imagine for a nation that loves cricket as much as India, the event was well received with crowds in excess of 40,000 for the matches despite rain interrupting many of the games including New Zealand  v India Legends. “I’ve played in front of some decent crowds in rugby, and the noise just ebbs and flows depending on what happens in the game. Over there the noise was just loud and constant, I kept looking around thinking what am I missing,” explained Spice.

The match against India only lasted five overs with the field deemed unplayable due to a downpour, however the fans didn’t leave as they were in for the long haul, happy waiting for the players to return to the field. Spice joked “We waited until midnight for things to quieten down, but it just didn’t happen. We had 50 motorbikes chasing the bus I reckon. Their enthusiasm was like nothing I’ve seen before. I was thinking sure we’ve got some old superstars (bit unfair on Ross Taylor there) but do they even know any of us on the bus?”


 When reflecting upon the road toll numbers to the former ND representative said, “I was surprised just how few accidents we saw in the three weeks we were there. The simple task of just driving on the road was an experience. There doesn't seem to be too many actual road rules. It’s kind of some sort of morse code with the tooting of a horn and they seem to respond each other. But every time I got in a taxi or tuk tuk, I would just pray and hold on.”

One of Spice’s favourite tour stories r was the eight-point turn the bus driver attempted on the motorway when he missed the turnoff to the airport. “If successful he would have been going against the traffic to get to the required on-ramp.  The irony was not lost on me with the tournament being called the Road Safety World Series. If you could imagine the hallway scene from Austin Powers, back and forth for a full ten minutes with police escorts stopping traffic. Eventually another police car turned up (the boss) and we did a seven point turn back in the original direction You couldn’t make it up.” Laughed the former Hurricanes halfback.

Thankfully for Spice and the Kiwi legends team they arrived safe and sound at all their respective venues, and faced the likes of South Africa, India and Bangladesh with rain preventing their other matches from going ahead. Spice describes the standard of cricket as “pretty competitive for a bunch of old guys, I was surprised how good the standard was, and the size of the event.  India and Sri Lanka were taking it a bit more serious than the other sides and they ended playing the final. But the whole experience was an eye opener and I loved it, so if I got the chance I would definitely go and do it again.”


New Zealand Legends Side

Hamish Bennett               Bruce Martin

Shane Bond                       Craig McMillan               

Neil Broom                        Kyle Mills

Dean Brownlie                 Jacob Oram

Anton Devcich                  Aaron Redmond             

James Franklin                 Jason Spice        

Gareth Hopkins                Scott Styris        

Jamie How                         Ross Taylor (c)  



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