Hi to High Tower?

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With a State Championship CV that reads 21 wickets at an average of 19.00, more wickets than everyone except Hamish Bennett (26), Tarun Nethula (25) and Andy McKay (23), more maidens (60) than anyone in the competition other than Bruce Martin (who has bowled almost 80 more overs), and the best bowling figures of the season (6/33 against ND: wickets of Wilson, both Marshalls, Williamson, Martin and Arnel), I hope it is true that Daryl Tuffey is desperate to play for New Zealand again.

But he'd be well within his rights be less obsessed with national honours than he once was - Tuffey has not been a particularly lucky bloke, nor has he been looked after particularly well by New Zealand Cricket.

* In June 2002 he was Chanderpaul-ed to the tune of 15 runs from the final over of an ODI at St Vincent, wearing the blame for the loss. He was then was dropped from the Test team on the same tour.

* In 2003 his abilities were on the receiving end of praise from Martin Crowe but the comments were lost in the maelstrom that erupted as the Rug Doctor expounded his finely tuned "sport and race theory" via the revered screens of a Wisden column: "Daryl Tuffey is a Maori and traditionally not many Maoris make good cricketers. They don't have the patience or the temperament to play through a whole day, let alone over a Test match."

* February 2005 wasn't pretty as he bowled "that over": 4 nb nb nb nb w w 4 w . w . . . described by The Press as "the 14-ball, nine-minute over costing 16 runs that may have destroyed Black Caps pace bowler Daryl Tuffey's cricket career."  Brutal and completely inaccurate in the end, thankfully. The paceman had no real explanation to offer: "I think the reason I no-balled was I was running in too hard - that is about it. Then a couple of wides didn't help and there were a couple of boundaries - it was all a bit bizarre." Yep, and a bit disappointing.

With a State Championship CV that reads 21 wickets at an average of 19.00, more wickets than everyone except Hamish Bennett (26), Tarun Nethula (25) and Andy McKay (23), more maidens (60) than anyone in the competition other than Bruce Martin (who has bowled almost 80 more overs), and the best bowling figures of the season (6/33 against ND: wickets of Wilson, both Marshalls, Williamson, Martin and Arnel), I hope it is true that Daryl Tuffey is desperate to play for New Zealand again.

But he'd be well within his rights be less obsessed with national honours than he once was - Tuffey has not been a particularly lucky bloke, nor has he been looked after particularly well by New Zealand Cricket.

* In June 2002 he was Chanderpaul-ed to the tune of 15 runs from the final over of an ODI at St Vincent, wearing the blame for the loss. He was then was dropped from the Test team on the same tour.

* In 2003 his abilities were on the receiving end of praise from Martin Crowe but the comments were lost in the maelstrom that erupted as the Rug Doctor expounded his finely tuned "sport and race theory" via the revered screens of a Wisden column: "Daryl Tuffey is a Maori and traditionally not many Maoris make good cricketers. They don't have the patience or the temperament to play through a whole day, let alone over a Test match."

* February 2005 wasn't pretty as he bowled "that over": 4 nb nb nb nb w w 4 w . w . . . described by The Press as "the 14-ball, nine-minute over costing 16 runs that may have destroyed Black Caps pace bowler Daryl Tuffey's cricket career."  Brutal and completely inaccurate in the end, thankfully. The paceman had no real explanation to offer: "I think the reason I no-balled was I was running in too hard - that is about it. Then a couple of wides didn't help and there were a couple of boundaries - it was all a bit bizarre." Yep, and a bit disappointing.

* There was the infamous "milkshake incident" that resulted in the governing body hanging him out to dry with a release to the world's cricketing media announcing an independent inquisition by Hugh Rennie QC, an over-the-top disciplinary hearing, and a needless fine of $1000 for breaching his contract and "bringing the game of cricket into disrepute". All for the sake of a home video which he admitted existed, although it never saw the light of day and was never in the league of Pam and Tommy proportions (?!) anyway. The worst element here was the genuine lack of support for a player who had made a mistake and could have done with a hand rather than all-out vilification.

* Reportedly inspired by chats over golf with Lance Cairns, he completed a return to the New Zealand team when named in the 15-man squad for the West Indies World Cup in February 2007, coming in for the injured Kyle Mills. He was then cruelly ruled out after blowing a biceps six overs into New Zealand's round one shellacking of Canada at St Lucia.

* Things sank pretty low for one of the nicest blokes on this country's cricket scene when he was convicted for drink-driving in June 2007, losing his licence for six months after failing a breath test at 8am in the morning after a significant night on the tiles. Taking some time out of the NZ scene to play club cricket for Stumper Rixon-coached Sutherland in New South Wales, he told NZPA later that year: "I've discovered the rail system here in Sydney's great." 

* There was his move to pay the mortgage via the since discovered "delayed payment system" of the Indian Cricket League. Of course as a participant in this non-establishment competition he was sidelined from selection to the national team - "overlooked" of course, rather than "banned" or "restrained from trading".

* Then this year after toiling away in the State Championship for Auckland, he was asked to step aside as a favour to the Indian team's incoming Test players who needed a warm-up but were not allowed to partake in a cricket match that contained "contaminated" Indian Cricket League players. That galling phone call to Tuffey should never have been made and served only to undermine the status of domestic cricket, and provide even further evidence of the embarrassing lengths to which administrators have gone to accommodate India's increasingly ridiculous requests.

His domestic form has been labelled so good that it is making the national selectors "cringe in frustration" - and given his knack for dismissing Sachin Tendulkar, he might have been a handy inclusion in a one-day side that was leaking runs like the proverbial kitchen sieve in the just completed series. He was deadly accurate in the "Sporting Hell" segment of Pulp Sport as well.

But it is as a first-class player that Tuffey is looking the goods. In the current Test series our pace bowlers have toiled away with little reward: Martin has been the standout but O'Brien has been battling, Franklin has been unlucky, and Mills has looked knackered. Southee has been added to the mix for the "must-win" Basin Reserve Test but it is unlikely his presence will send any shudders.

Bond would be nice to have around but he hasn't played first-class cricket since wrecking Durham in the English county championship back in June - he went OK. Just a lazy 9/129 in a thriller that saw Durham hacked down just 4 runs short of the outright win.

Daryl Tuffey, the man nicknamed after Police Academy's High Tower, is certainly good enough to be in contention at the moment. Given that our next Test match is not scheduled to be played until August in Sri Lanka, that provides plenty of time for Tuffey to cleanse himself off his ICL contagions. He deserves a second chance - let's hope New Zealand Cricket has the spine to get his backbone back in the mix. 

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