Finally a New Zealander wins something
It was the contest that created more interest than Australia's demolition. There was hype, pre-event jibes and a $3000 prize pool. The only thing missing was bill posters of the heavyweight dash between Darren "Boof" Lehmann and Mark "Rigor Mortis" Richardson.
A charity and a comedy, the foot race was an episode of Snail and Pace. Justin Langer led the combatants out with an Australian flag draped from his head and a healthy and patient crowd cheered Lehmann, who hid a green-and-gold lycra body-suit under a tracksuit. While Richardson paraded in his beige body-hugger, Lehmann maintained his decorum by wearing a blue shirt to cover his curves.
The 110-metre course was like completing an all-run five, something neither batsman has done often over long careers. Rather than setting in, Rigor Mortis set off and had the race by the halfway stage keg jump. Boof has faced many selection hurdles in his career, but this one cost him the race. The final margin was so convincing that the video referee had the day off.
"Once I got to the keg and got over that I was pretty happy," said Richardson. "I thought at that stage he might actually stop and sit down and have a drink from the keg, but he kept running."
Richardson, who has made the race an end-of-series tradition, collected a host of bragging rights and A$2000 for Intellectually Handicapped Children. Lehmann pocketed $1000 for the Shane Warne Foundation after donations from Travelex and the National Bank of New Zealand. There was pre-race speculation that Warne was actually the slowest Australian, and Lehmann did not rule out challenging Warne or lining up in the Stawell Gift.
"The boys wouldn't let me back into the change-room if we didn't win this one," Richardson said. "But the only thing I'll be remembered for in Australia is stupidity." Both players returned with hamstrings in the same number of pieces as two loud Kiwi fans celebrated beating Australia at something.