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New Zealand allrounder James Franklin remembers all his stats, and likes to take his five-year-old to watch football and rugby
Interview by Jack Wilson
August 23, 2014
Many players get to hone their game before being called on to play international cricket. What was it like playing for your country so young?
It was a huge honour and it was totally unexpected at the time. I was still 20 and had lots of areas to improve in my game. The selectors saw something in me and thought I was worth a crack. But initially I was overawed playing against guys I'd watched on TV as a kid.
Where do you see your New Zealand career now?
I'm not retired but New Zealand have got some good young players coming through. Jimmy Neesham, Corey Anderson, Kane Williamson, Tim Southee and Trent Boult are standing up on the international stage and doing really well. I'm not 23, I'm 33, but I still feel if they want something from me, I could offer contributions to the cause. My goal is to play for New Zealand at some stage, but I'm under no illusions. All I can do is play well and you never know, if guys get injured and I'm doing the business maybe they'll think of me. If they don't, I've had a lot of fun playing for New Zealand.
Who has been the best captain you have played under?
Stephen Fleming. He tactically masterminded everything, and he's rightly regarded as one of the best captains in the modern era.
In the early days of your career, was batting something you prioritised over your bowling?
I guess my first break came a bowler for the New Zealand team but before then I'd always been a top-order batter who bowled a bit for my school. As time has moved on I've gone back to what I used to do - batting more.
How do you see it now?
I'm still an allrounder, but if someone says what am I most likely to produce with, I'd say scoring runs.
Are you a stats man?
I think every cricketer is. One that says they aren't would be lying. Everyone wants to have good numbers on board with their career.
So if I asked how many Test wickets you had taken, would you know?
It's in the eighties. I think it's 84 or 85?
Close, 82, and it included that hat-trick against Bangladesh. What was that like?
I didn't appreciate what was going on until I sit back and think about it now. It's scary to think I've actually got a Test hat-trick! I was swinging the ball reasonably well, but I don't know if the third batsman of the three had been watching. He came out quickly, pretty flustered, and I bowled a big inswinger that he left and it kissed the top of off stump.
You are one of only two New Zealanders to take a hat-trick in Test cricket. Do you know who the other is?
I do actually. Peter Petherick. I'm sure countless bowlers taken two wickets in a row, and with the young bowlers who are about now, the likes of Tim Southee and Trent Boult, there'll be another to join the club.
Speaking of records, you are the only player to take a wicket with their first ball in a World Cup too.
Well, the first legitimate delivery! I think I bowled a no-ball, or a wide? Cricket is full of numbers and stats and you're not aware of it at the time. You're just trying to do a job for the team.
What is the best innings you have ever played?
To score a Test century is very special, especially because it was against South Africa in Cape Town. I was batting nine and I needed to stick around with Steven Fleming, who had 100 next to his name. In the end he got a double and I got my maiden Test hundred. To bat with him, given he was a bit of a mentor for me in terms of being captain, playing with him at Wellington and him being a left-hander, was even better.
And what is the best spell you have bowled?
It was a county game against Derbyshire for Gloucestershire four years ago. I took 7 for 14 at the end of the innings but at one point I had taken five wickets for no runs. We bowled Derby out for 44 and ended up losing the game by quite a way. It was a totally bizarre game of cricket that was all over in two and a bit days
What is your greatest achievement in cricket?
There's nothing on its own that stands out, but any Test match win is special. There's lots of personal accolades that you pat yourself on the back for, but nothing tops a Test match win with a group of guys that are your mates, who have worked hard for four or five days.
Where is best place to play cricket in the world?
It's hard to go past go playing a game at Lord's. It's something any cricketer dreams of and I've been lucky enough to do so at international and domestic level. But for sheer atmosphere, I'll have to say anywhere in India. They get huge crowds who are just so passionate about the game.
What is the funniest thing you have seen on a cricket field?
I was playing for the New Zealand Academy against the Australia Academy when I was 19. Big Matt Nicholson, who played for Australia in the nineties, was coming back from injury and he was playing. He was batting and hit a ball out to cover when his bat broke. The blade split and all that was left in his hand was basically the handle. Lou Vincent was at cover and chased the ball, stopped it and threw it in. Matt Nicholson, all 6ft 7ins of him, turned round to go and put his bat down but forgot that he only had the handle. Lou ended up throwing the stumps down and he was out of his crease. He wasn't very happy with us but he was out.
Which team-mate - past or present - would you least like to be stuck on a desert island with?
Jeepers! There's been a lot of team-mates. I'll go with Mark Gillespie. He's the biggest townie you'll ever come across and he'd have no survival skills.
Who is the most fun on a night out?
Has there ever been a team-mate that you have actively tried to avoid facing in the nets?
Yes, Tymal Mills down at Essex. He's not much fun to face.
You have three children. Have they picked up the sporting genes?
Charlie, who is five, is crazy for sport. When I'm not playing I like to take him to Wellington Phoenix to watch the football, and to the Hurricanes to watch the rugby. It's tough when you get home after a long day and have your son wanting to go in the backyard and have a hit - but it's all good fun.
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