Chris Zinzan Harris, cricketing legend , deliverer of right-arm slow medium deliveries and first New Zealand player to 250 One Day Internationals is now based in Zimbabwe. He takes time out of his coaching and commentating schedule to share his opinions on the game today what he misses about Aotearoa, including conductive education...what’s that? Read on....
What’s your view on Twenty 20 cricket? How do you reckon you’d fare at the game these days if were still playing?
Having played quite a lot of domestic Twenty 20 Cricket and also for the now defunct Indian Cricket League, it was a format of the game I became very fond of. From a playing and watching perspective I feel the introduction of Twenty 20 Cricket has also enhanced the other formats of the game. By that I mean that the batsmen have become more aggressive.
Watching the Twenty/20 of today, spinners and slow bowlers have a very big role to play, and so I think I’d be very comfortable in this environment.
Will 50 over cricket survive? Or can you see a future of Test Cricket and 20/20 only?
Good question! I have many concerns for One Day cricket, the biggest one being the ‘powers to be’ seem to think that there is a problem with this format and they keep adjusting the rules to try and make it more exciting. My hope is that it will survive but I have grave concerns. So the answer is yes I can see a future with just Test Cricket and 20/20 but I hope not.
Zimbabwe’s a long way from Christchurch. What do you miss about home?
One of the things we miss most is the conductive education centre in Addington. Our daughter Phoebe has hemiplegia, which causes problems with movement and co-ordination, caused by oxygen deprivation at birth. Conductive Education is a physical and educational programme for kids with disabilities from a few months old through to high school age where they learn every day skills and really fulfil their potential. We look forward to visitingthe centre when we go back home.
And of course we miss our family and friends and our cat ‘Biscuit’. We’re also a Vegemite family and stock up stores of it from anyone who is coming over. We miss lots about home, but not the earthquakes.
Sounds like quite a journey you’ve been on with your family. Any tips for parents who are on the rollercoaster of finding out their child has a disability?
Keep positive, don’t be afraid. There is so much support. Ask as many questions as you need to make you feel comfortable and don’t feel like you can’t ask. Keep your support systems in place and ask for help. If your child has a motor disorder, get in touch with conductive education.
And just be ok with it because children with disabilities are gifts. It doesn’t have to be a negative. Above all love them and laugh a lot with them because that is what they want and need the most. Enjoy them.
And still talking of family. Chris Zinzan Harris? That’s a pretty distinctive name. Any other sporting ability in the family?
Yes there is a connection with Zinzan Brooke. We are distantly related. Zinzan is a family name and has been passed on through the generations. We have strong sporting genes in our family. My father Zin played for New Zealand Cricket and my brother Ben played cricket for Canterbury and Otago. My other brother Tim was probably the best backyard cricketer. And the tradition looks like it could be continuing with promising signs from my nephews Jack and Sam.
Most memorable sledge you gave… and received?
I was never a big one for sledging because early on in my career my attempts at sledging generally backfired and therefore I decided to let my play do the talking. But I had a number of sledges directed at me. The most scary was playing against Merv Hughes - I had obviously annoyed him and apart from spitting on me he also said he didn’t want to get me out – he just wanted to kill me! Fortunately since then we have become quite friendly (thank goodness). He is actually a bit of a gentle giant.
Another good one, prior to the bouncer law changing was playing a first class game against Chris Pringle. He bowled me 3 bouncers in a row, then came down to my end and said ‘Harry if you want to drive today you had better go hire a car because I am not going to pitch anything up’. He bounced me the next delivery and I hooked him for 6. So I politely enquired whether he wanted to borrow my rental car to go and get the ball. He was not amused but the rest of his team were.
Chris Harris and his wife Linda are supporters of Conductive Education, a programme for children with motor disorders.
Find out more at www.conductive-education.org.nz
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