August 12, 2010

Anyone seen Bert's ashes?

Kanishkaa Balachandran

While the Australians have been busy looking for ideas on how to reclaim the Ashes from England, their Trans-Tasman neighbours have been literally searching for the ashes of one of their legendary cricketers, in their own backyard.

When former New Zealand and Otago batsman Bert Sutcliffe died in 2001, some of his ashes were scattered at the Carisbrook ground in Dunedin and the rest buried there in a private ceremony. But with the venue now undergoing a massive renovation, the Otago Cricket Association asked Sutcliffe’s family if they could move the urn to its new headquarters at the University Oval. The family agreed but Otago jumped the gun and installed a commemorative plaque at Carisbrook before checking if the ashes were still there. Even technology – a metal detector and sonar device were used - didn't help, and now nobody, including those present in 2001, have a clue where exactly the urn was buried.

Sutcliffe’s son Gary was philosophical about the peculiar scenario. "Dad's ashes are proving as elusive as bowlers found taking his wicket," Gary told Otago Daily Times. "Maybe there is a message here. Dad's wishes were that he would love to have his ashes scattered at Carisbrook.” You can't take Bert Sutcliffe out of Carisbrook, neither can you take Carisbrook out of him.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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