Leggie accepts late apology

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 12/09/2013

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OPINION: The written apology furnished by former Zimbabwe cricketer Henry Olonga has been absolutely accepted by his victim, Greg Loveridge.

Former Manawatu and New Zealand legspinner Loveridge chatted to us from his glass tower in Auckland's CBD, where he runs the Auckland operation for Robt Jones Holdings.

A week ago this column described how Olonga, in his riveting biography Blood, Sweat and Treason, was contrite about breaking Loveridge's finger when bowling at him at Hamilton in 1996, in what proved to be Loveridge's only test match.

Loveridge recalled being hit on the hand only three times in his whole career: "I was normally nicked out well before," he laughed.

When we caught up with him on the phone this week, it could have been the Loveridge of a decade ago.

He has been in the property biz with Bob Jones for eight years, far removed from his previous life in academia. Loveridge often played for British Universities when he was at Cambridge and encountered many of the Zimbabweans, but never crossed paths with Olonga again.

Hardly surprising. Olonga revealed that an unpleasant racial division developed within the Zim team, and catches were too often put down off his bowling. So much so the Sri Lankans commiserated with Olonga in one match.

Recently Loveridge was at Lord's for a day of the Ashes, describing it as the best day of sport in his eclectic career. Lord's was full of good-humoured Poms sipping champers and, he said, had it been a Kiwi or Aussie crowd, everyone would have been blotto.

When Loveridge was a young lad out of Awatapu College, we had to pull a few strings to get him a decent bat. Now he lives in upscale Remmers in Auckland with his Irish wife and two daughters.

When he first went to Auckland he played eight days for Grafton but couldn't abide not training properly before playing. Buying buildings in the CBD and filling them with tenants took priority.

Loveridge went the building way when he bumped into a Massey University lecturer who was quitting the job and suggested Loveridge try out for it. At the time, Loveridge was being interviewed for a job in Helen Clark's office at Parliament.

Working for Sir Bob in a "sink or swim" and "don't make the same mistake twice" environment has served him well.

Loveridge was a leggie of much promise, if only he had been given another chance; but NZ Cricket's way's has long been to pick and flick.

Loveridge plays a bit of masters and festival cricket, like on a cricket ground in front of a tycoon's house on the beach at Waiheke Island, one of the many worlds Loveridge has graced since he left Palmy.

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■ Australian schools squash players went home from Palmerston North recently wondering if they had blundered into somewhere like North Korea.

They had innocently parked vehicles in public carparks adjacent to SquashGym in Linton Street where they were playing New Zealand teams.

At five minutes to five one evening, a vanload of parking Gestapo turned up and started ticketing the cars. A quick flight of players from inside the squash club was to no avail.

The Aussies had spent a lot of money in the city over a week but the next day a half dozen of them trooped over to the city council to pay their fines. A pity the wardens didn't react with the same alacrity to the aggressive smellies on the Broadway sidewalks.

■ When the bowls hall of famers were named on Saturday, at least three greats were not inducted.

One was triple world champion Gary Lawson (who has won 10 national titles) who has long battled with officialdom.

Then there were the two Croatians, Nick Unkovich (10 national titles) and Ivan Kostanich, who gave bowls publicity it badly needed. Maybe Unkovich paid for peeing on team-mate Doug Richard-Jolly's bowling bag after his dog had widdled on Unkovich's bag.

Kostanich, the Kaipara Harbour fisherman, lived until last year, reaching 91. He beat Manawatu's Kevin Wing to win the first of his three national singles titles in 1977.

- Manawatu Standard

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