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Thread: Chris Cairns

  1. #1
    School Boy/Girl Captain Western Warrior's Avatar
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    Chris Cairns

    I recently found this buried in www.cricinfo.com and found it a well written and apt article on one of New Zealands true greats.

    Chris Cairns - the last hurrah

    If Chris Cairns should one day sit down and write his autobiography and it could only be an improvement on that sugary title that drifted by some two years ago he would have a ready-made title: `If Only.'

    There have been many dramas since the precocious teenager emerged from the shadow of his famous father Lance and appeared to have the raw talent to give New Zealand, and world cricket, an allrounder of rare greatness.

    The most significant `if only' concerns injuries. Tall, strongly-built yet athletic and lean in the hips, Cairns looked like the answer to any All Black selector searching for the ideal blindside flanker. In fact, Cairns won schoolboy fame as a rugby fullback before cricket claimed him. For all his muscular athleticism Cairns had an uncanny ability to attract injuries. From shoulder to ankle Cairns seemed constantly plagued by some malfunction. The wags used to say that he could not get his kit into his coffin because it was crammed with his medical history. One result is perhaps the weirdest statistic known to a game littered with crazy numbers. Cairns in March played his 59th Test. He had missed another 57 through injuries and he finished better than he started. An over-eager Cairns left the Waca after his first Test against Australia in 1989-90 with a stress fracture of his back.

    He finished the 2003-04 season trailing clouds of glory and apparently fully fit at last. One of the oddities, another `if only', was that when Cairns stepped out in the three-Test series against Graeme Smith's South Africans in March it was the first time he had been fit enough to face South Africa in a Test.

    And so Cairns was there, no `if onlys' this time, at the forefront of the battle when in the second Test on a drop-in pitch at Eden Park, New Zealand defeated South Africa by nine wickets in possibly the best winning display by New Zealand. It was not necessarily the best New Zealand team, or the widest and most famous victory. But for two glorious days, the second and third in which New Zealand trimmed the South African first innings at 296 and built their first innings to 584 for 8, the New Zealanders were brilliantly inspired.

    And none more so than Cairns. He had some help. From 12 for 2, Scott Styris led New Zealand out of danger with an heroic 170. Styris has the face of that grim-faced actor George C Scott, but he played this 220-ball innings like a lad having fun on the beach: 24 fours, two sixes. There was further furious industry from Craig McMillan, 82 from 151 balls, before Cairns arrived at 349 for 6. Three and a half hours later Cairns left with 158, from 171 balls with 18 fours, seven sixes every bit as staggering as those pyrotechnical statistics would suggest. That was virtually the end of South Africa, although they existed until the last afternoon, time enough for Cairns to finish off the second innings with three wickets.

    So Cairns had, at last, reached the Pearly Gates. He joined Garfield Sobers, Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee in the 3,000 runs/200 wickets club, and Cairns completed both legs of that double in that magic match at Eden Park, 2004.

    Then, perhaps, the final `if only.' Rather than promise more Test-match glory on home fields next summer, Cairns announced that he would end his Test career playing for New Zealand against England in this northern summer. So, and only if injuries do not intrude, his final Test will be at Trent Bridge, Cairns' second home.

    He would, he said, use the energies saved away from the Tests to continue his one-day international career. The heart sank. In those golden, glorious March days at Eden Park, we had a glimpse of the Crown Jewels. Now all we could expect were the brassy baubles, the paste diamonds, of the one-day game. But perhaps this was the final indication that Cairns' cricketing career had been affected by injuries self-inflicted ones that do not appear in the medical journals.

    He has been no stranger to controversy. He has had strong words from captains, coaches and managers. In 1993-94 Ken Rutherford, the New Zealand captain, had taken his team to a useful draw against Australia at Perth and Rutherford was heartened on the eve of the second Test at Hobart by the news that Cairns announced himself completely fit and keen to play.

    Early next morning the telephone rang in Cairns' room. His room-mate was amused that Cairns took the call in the bathroom. An hour or so later Rutherford was definitely not amused when Cairns announced he was not fit enough to play. The deflated New Zealanders lost that Test, and the next, by an innings. The popular guess was that father Lance had given Cairns some last-minute advice.

    Cairns bounced back with a century against Zimbabwe the following year, but then came what was perhaps the major crisis of his career. Although the Cairns and Turner families had been reasonably close in the past, it soon became evident during a tour of India that there was a sharp clash of cultures between Cairns and coach Glenn Turner.

    The culture-gap widened in West Indies in 1995-96 when several senior players were unhappy with Turner, the coach, and Lee Germon, the captain. One of the seniors, Adam Parore, was in dispute with the New Zealand board over whether he should have to go on the end-of-tour trip to Bermuda. Turner and Roger Twose were on different wavelengths.

    When Cairns appeared to damage rib muscles during an over-strenuous net session he was ruled out of the first Test. After what appeared to be many crossed wires, Cairns said he wanted to go to Nottinghamshire if he was not considered as a batsman for the second Test. Gren Alabaster, the manager, solved that impasse by handing Cairns his plane ticket.

    As a curiosity, Cairns' father, Lance, had also quit a tour of West Indies from Barbados in 1985. An injury was involved, but it did not stop Lance playing golf on the course which circled the team hotel while the other troops worried what mayhem Malcolm Marshall had in store for them on the Kensington Oval pitch devilishly prepared by Tony Cozier's brother-in-law.

    Chris Cairns' departure had interesting after-effects. Chris Doig, recently installed as New Zealand Cricket's chief executive officer, hastened to Barbados. In one breath Doig asked whom NZC might get to replace Turner as coach, and in the other threatened Notts severe trouble if they played Cairns in a match a few days hence.

    At home Doig very much attracted by the bums-on-seats side of cricket had his entrepreneurial hat on. The big-hitting fast bowling Cairns was NZC's main marketing force. So it was exit Turner.

    Against England at home in 1996-97, Cairns was up before the beak again out drinking in the wee hours during the first Test. New Zealand had a new manager, John Graham, former All Black captain, noted educationalist, the straightest of straight-shooters. Graham made a mess of his first press conference when, using Doig's script, he tried to `bury' the Cairns' dawn parade. Graham recovered, quickly, brilliantly. He gave Cairns a ticking-off, and let him, and all the players, know that certain rules of conduct would apply in future, and that players must respect both them and their team.

    From that point the New Zealanders, and Cairns, forgot their bad habits and took up the virtues proposed by Graham, and by the energetic attitude, especially in fielding, of the Australian Steve Rixon, their new coach.

    Graham was fascinated by the New Zealanders as sportsmen, and especially by Cairns. He could not understand Cairns' death-wish to open in one-day internationals. He was mystified when the lofty Cairns brought in a closet-crouch into his stance at the crease. Short batsmen succeeded, said Cairns, because they had a low centre of gravity. So he would splay his legs and get his centre of gravity down several inches, with the severe risk of another muscular strain if he played back or forward too energetically.

    Graham finished his term, but Cairns soldiered on with only those pesky injuries affecting his eventual arrival at Test cricketing heaven confident, successful, and level with the great allrounders of the modern game.

    And that left the biggest `if only' of them all. If only Cairns had come under Graham's manly discipline when he was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 18-year-old, Cairns may have reached all his famous milestones before he was 30, and with further glories within his reach and for our pleasure.

  2. #2
    International Regular twctopcat's Avatar
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    If cairns had remained fit for the majority of his career i think its fair to say he would be up there with botham, khan etc.
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    i don't no why but since i first saw cairns when new zealand toured in '99 he's always been one of my favourite players, injuries stopped him becoming a legend he deserved to be

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    Hall of Fame Member Smudge's Avatar
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    Injuries AND attitude stopped him from becoming one of the best allrounders the world has seen. Only in the last five years has he matured and become a much more balanced and consistent player.


  5. #5
    International Regular shaka's Avatar
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    I have always been a fan of Chris Cairns and rate him very highly, but I wish he would reconsider his decision to retire, even for one more crack at the Australians.

  6. #6
    Tim
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    Yeah Voltman hit the nail. Injuries played a large part, but he also went close to going off the rails around 1995 due to his sisters death.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim
    Yeah Voltman hit the nail. Injuries played a large part, but he also went close to going off the rails around 1995 due to his sisters death.
    Bingo - timing fits too if you look at the lead article, both in terms of his behaviour preceeding & perhaps a coming to terms & maturity under Graham & Dixon..............

  8. #8
    Hall of Fame Member Smudge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anzac
    Bingo - timing fits too if you look at the lead article, both in terms of his behaviour preceeding & perhaps a coming to terms & maturity under Graham & Dixon..............
    It's well documented that Cairns and Parore didn't get on with Turner due to Turns being too much of a disciplinarian, and before that, Geoff Howarth was too boozed to care. While Rixon gave him a bit too much free rein (ie. coming back from a bar at 4am during a test), he seemed to get the best out of him by the end of his era.

    Thanks for telling me I'm so perceptive, guys.


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    you can also factor in other mitigating circumstances such as the SRL bombings & Rutherfords Captaincy (or lack thereof) & other primadonnas such as Parore & Co - all of whom should have achieved more for ther talents if they had bitten the bullet under Turner - perhaps he was too much the disciplinarian for that time.........certainly there is a more professional approach these days with this squad..........



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