Second Innings

Players on their careers and hobbies outside cricket

John Morrison

'I wish I was John Cleese'

If you loved laughs and camaraderie as a cricketer, Wellington city politics is where it's at after retirement

Sidharth Monga

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John Morrison
Tidier sideburns: that's what being a councillor does to mystery bowlers © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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I became a councillor about 11 or 12 years ago. I was involved with junior sport, and I was pretty annoyed the Wellington city council wasn't doing what I thought they should, in terms of providing facilities and suitable grounds. So I ended up standing for council and got elected.

I have two portfolios: the economic portfolio, and sport and recreation. I am also on the board of the Basin Reserve, which we are pretty proud of, and the Westpac Stadium.

My day varies and includes a number of meetings, including major city council meetings. Today, for example, we had a meeting about the restructuring of the central part of town, which started at 9am and finished at 4pm. We heard submissions from a lot of business and community people. I would call today fairly tedious, but some days can be pretty interesting.

We work with the central government, and we also try to work as closely as we can with sporting groups. We lobby to get as much cricket as we can, and other sports too. There is a lot of enthusiasm for rugby, with the country hosting the next World Cup.

People still recognise me as a cricketer. It's interesting - when New Zealand do badly, I get stopped every five minutes in the city, or when I am going to meetings, and they ask, "What's the matter with our team, why can't you do something about it?" I say I can't do an awful lot sitting in that room.

There is a little extra in term of respect: it was a great privilege for me to have played for my country, and many people see it that way. The funny side is, people tend to think that you never think about anything else. Most people still call me Mystery, and the few people who are not familiar with my past start wondering where on earth it comes from. As you grow older, it becomes a stranger nickname, but it's probably more interesting than being called John.

Being a politician is even stranger than sitting in the dressing room of a cricket team. I just wish I was as clever as John Cleese or Rowan Atkinson and could write a script on what happens in our debates - they are so ludicrous that you can't even recapture the full context of them. I'd probably rather be sitting with a few of my mates in the dressing room, having a beer after a game of cricket, but I will stick with politics for now.

Sometimes when you win a debate, when you get something done that is very good for the city, for the people, for the sport, it is satisfying. If I mange to secure better funding, good events, when you see the Westpac full, or the Basin full, and you have done a lot of work to try and attract that event, it is a great thrill.

As told to Sidharth Monga

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