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Central Districts Cricket launches Central Districts Alumini programme

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

People and connection lie at the heart of every sport and, this summer, Central Districts Cricket has taken a key step to ensure those connections stay strong.

Central Districts has today launched a new Central Districts Alumni programme aimed at maintaining connections and fostering relationships between its former players that are living all over New Zealand and the world.

Born in 1950, as one of New Zealand’s six Major Associations CD has produced top cricketers for the country for more than seven decades, with 91-year-old Test representative Ian Leggat CD’s elder statesman.

Leggat was selected from Nelson for the very first Central Stags Plunket Shield match, played at the Basin Reserve in December 1950 and, after the passing of Manawatu’s Doug Bowden early last year, is the last remaining member of the side here to tell the tale.

Now retired in Mount Maunganui, Leggat is still top of his game as he recalls that spine-tingling first match.

"I remember the weather was horrible, and I didn’t make any runs which is horrible.

"Murray Chapple, Doug Bowden and myself were the young lads in the team. Most of the rest of the side were into their 30s, at least, so we were careful not to step out of line. Harry Cave took me under his wing. Right from the beginning, there was a very strong team spirit in CD, a bond amongst us."

Rumour has it the covers were either left off or blown off the Basin Reserve pitch before that historic match which resulted in an innings victory to Wellington, who had won the toss.

But CD didn’t have to wait long for success. The team finished as runner-up in the five-team Plunket Shield championship that season after two outright wins.

Leggat and Cave are still inked in the CD and NZ recordbooks as holders of the national first-class ninth wicket partnership record, a legendary stand of 239 at Dunedin’s old Carisbrook ground in the 1952/53 season - in which Central again finished as Plunket Shield runners-up to Otago, above all the big city teams.

"Before CD was formed, the only way someone from the Districts could play Plunket Shield cricket was to go and play in the (Wellington) Town versus Country match," recalls Leggat, "and very rarely did any Country players ever get into the Wellington side.

"There was no opening for a lot of reasonably good cricketers in the Districts, so when we came together as CD, it was a great boost to provincial cricketers. It was the country boys showing the townies, and I think that’s still there."

The CD Alumni programme is an umbrella network for both past Central Stags and Central Hinds - who began as the Central Districts Women’s team in 1979 after a breakaway from Wellington Cricket.

Men’s and women’s cricket was administered by separate organisations at both a national and regional level at the time, merging in 1992. Today, the game is all-inclusive and CD Cricket CEO Pete de Wet is looking forward to bringing past players from different eras and both the male and female spheres together.

"This is an important milestone for CD Cricket as we formalise a programme to recognise and honour all our former players of the Assocation," said de Wet.

"The key objective of the Alumni Programme is to give our former players a way to remain connected with each other, and also, to CD Cricket.

"We want our past players to cherish being a part of the CD Cricket family and our hope is that, through this initiative, we can reconnect former teammates and foster a genuine feeling of pride in having represented CD Cricket.

"CD is unique in New Zealand as the only MA spread across both main islands, and we face unique logistical challenges as a consequence of geography.

"But that is what we are all about - the Districts, the regions, the country towns. We remain connected with many of our recent Alumni, but there are many more we would like to reconnect with now.

"The success of this programme will be getting as many former players into the network as possible, and I would like to encourage all former players and our wider CD cricket family to reach out to your former teammates to let them know to register as CD Alumni Members on our website,"

Once registered in the CD Alumni programme, members will not only be connected into the network of former CD players around New Zealand and the world, but will be acknowledged with CD Alumni functions and annual complimentary access to Hinds and Stags matches anywhere in New Zealand, as well as having access to exclusive Alumni news and updates on a member-only portal on the CC’s website.

De Wet said he throughly enjoyed working with a steering committee of past Hinds and Stags who identified and shaped the Alumni programmes’s core values: Transparency, Custodianship, Inclusiveness and Connectivity.

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