Blood and orange
There's a wonderful sideshow under way beyond the boundary at all of New Zealand's ODIs this summer. It involves orange t-shirts and sticky fingers.
The guts of the promotion is that you buy a branded t-shirt for 30 bucks and get it along to a game. Once you get a lanyard at the gate confirming you're a competition starter, the shirt effectively becomes your entry to this particular cricketing lottery.
Then, if you manage to snaffle a "clean" one-handed catch off a six during the ODI being played in front of your eyes, you get a cool NZ$100,000 (US$82,000). There's a bounty on offer at each of New Zealand's ODIs this summer: 12 chances and $1.2 million in the kitty.
The initiative brings to mind some of the great one-handed crowd catches of all-time, including teenager Peter Spurling's effort in Adelaide a year ago while nursing a hot dog, an iced coffee and a pie; Warney's Australian Open snare off a miscued Federer return; and my personal favourite, where a Victorian firefighter pulled off a casual one-hander while yarning on his mobile phone.
More recently and closer to home, arborist Brock Price provided the likely catalyst for the competition with a ridiculously spectacular effort at the Cake Tin in November last year. One-handed but also one-footed too, it's the best of the lot.
Remarkably, the combined onslaught of 26 sixes in Queenstown from Ryder (5), B McCullum (3), Anderson (14), Simmons (1) and Bravo (3) saw a total of zero catches from men and women in all clothes, let alone orange.
As well as the cannonade of sixes, Queenstown provided ideal catching conditions, with runway-sized grass embankments and an epic rain delay that reduced the number of deckchair/picnic-blanket obstacles.
Yet the catching was inexplicably abominable as Kanishkaa Balachandran noted. Not that there was a lack of commitment, mind you. A non-attentive (or highly attentive, depending on your perspective) father popped his toddler onto the grass while he had a crack at a catch. Another chap made a spreadeagled dive over the fence that looked more likely to end in a neck brace and traction than a hundred grand. He ended up on the field of play, rubbing his head.
The sideshow is going to get pretty interesting as desperate times call for desperate measures. There will be blood shed before the summer ends as spectators arrive at grounds prepared to put their bodies on the line for a six-figure sum.
And it won't be the sponsor's fault, as its conditions of entry state rather ominously:
The Promoter will not be liable for any damage or injury whatsoever incurred by any participant (including but not limited to any indirect or consequential loss). All prizes are taken entirely at the prize winner's own risk. Prize winners indemnify the Promoter against any liability for accident or loss of life, personal injury, property damage or other loss, cost or expense arising in connection with the prize.
For Indian and West Indian fans touring the Shaky Isles this summer, note that you must be a New Zealand resident over the age of 18 to collect the payout. And I'd recommend you sit as far away as possible from any blokes or ladies in orange shirts to avoid an ill-directed shoulder charge.
On the plus side you're very likely to know when the leather is set to land nearby as there will be a stampede of orange-clad pale-ale lovers rampaging toward you, quite possibly with blood dripping from their bruised appendages.
Stay safe out there.
Paul Ford is a co-founder of the Beige Brigade. He tweets here