I used to watch my brothers - I almost threw my arm out throwing to my elder brother and then collecting the ball. "Can I bat now?" "NO!"
My first day-night games were on Colway Street [in Wellington] under the streetlights. Dodging cars as they came up the road was as much a difficulty as facing Steve McKenzie as he came down the hill with the breeze behind.
I can remember it was a slight interruption, a nuisance. I was an enthusiastic first-year teacher. I had just joined that unwieldy ladder that is New Zealand education and I was preparing my first school production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I was the sole member of the orchestra, playing my own organ - there might have been a beginner flautist - but she didn't count. Then I got this call-up; New Zealand were touring Australia in 1973-74 and it was a fairly young team because New Zealand had had a long tour of England that year. Because of our amateur, cottage-industry status as cricketers, most of the players had to go back to work. Glenn Turner was one of the few senior players in the side and he got injured. I got the call. And I was thrust from going from one dress rehearsal to a different kind of rehearsal.
"My friend Steve McKenzie used to set his pin number to Bert Sutcliffe's Test aggregate and I used to make the occasional withdrawal from his account"
I didn't play in the first Test of that series but I did get on the field in front of Bay 13 at the MCG. I can remember having an exchange with a hostile crowd down there. I did give some back - which was stupid. "Ah, look, we've got a young goose here, there's only 35 shoplifting days to Christmas, Cornery," they shouted. Then they started to throw marbles and they were pinking me on the back of my jersey. There must have been a hundred marbles around me and I thought I was going to roll an ankle. Then they started throwing pies when they ran out of marbles. And that attracted the birds. I had undulating ground underfoot and above, flying wildly around me, were birds swooping to attack these bits of meat. It was a disaster. And it was from that day on that I was solely a slip fielder.
I was dropped for the third Test [of the New Zealand leg] when Mark Burgess, who was on the England tour, made himself available - he was an experienced player who had had to take a job on return. That was understandable. I went into a wilderness in the first-class cricket scene. After the Christchurch win I went back to being a teacher. I would play for Wellington when we were having holidays from school. It was getting to the point where I was saying, "Oh well, it is not going to happen again and teaching is going to be the thing." And I was happy with that. But there were some fearful rakings of the lawn when teams were announced in those five years. I kept on not scoring enough runs and that is why I missed out on going to India, which is a slight regret. I played everywhere else.
When I got back in the side, we were playing so much I had to make a decision. I had a degree and had gone into secondary teaching. I was head of music at Onslow College. I had got to a point where I would say hello to my class in February and goodbye a week later. I was not able to work with the children and feel that I was giving them a fair go.
It helped me deal with the vicissitudes of the game. It was not possible to enjoy success every day. It gave me a perspective. It is easy to become insular and expect things. I don't think I was a very popular captain, but I was determined we did not lose those decent behaviours. We kept our feet on the ground. That was down to Dad and Mum as well as my middle-class upbringing.
Keeping grounded. Honesty. Not frightened to tell people, "That was an important moment, that cost us the game." Team meetings seemed a waste of valuable time. We said similar things in each one. That was one thing that irritated me: re-offending. I don't mind people making mistakes but to make similar mistakes four times is ridiculous. That person doesn't care how he or the team does.
There were plenty of bad moments… but I think the run we had as a team to beat Australia in Australia for the first time in a series, then to beat them again in a series at home [both in 1985-86], then to beat England in England . Those times were pleasing tours.
"Team meetings seemed a waste of valuable time. We said similar things in each one"
It was difficult at times. If you work with people as closely as you do in cricket, with failure and success rubbing against each other in the same room, you are going to have bad days. Richard was our best player, a mechanical genius. We always relied on him, gave him the ball at the right time when he wanted to bowl. We were different characters. There are bound to be little moments when things don't go quite so well, especially when there is pressure on. After we had lost to West Indies in New Zealand he had a go at the team in public, in his newspaper column. I thought that was a no-no and the team thought it was a no-no. Have a go at us in private by all means. That is fair game. If we are not doing things properly, talk to us, tell us. Don't use the paper as the forum. We are fine now. You get perspective once you've finished the game - it doesn't matter.
Not being fit enough. Look at the number of 90s and 80s I scored. Fitness! Too much the amateur, not enough the pro. Because, to succeed, I had trimmed my game down so much in the early 1970s, I didn't play enough shots, didn't have enough boundary strokes. And because I was playing around guys like Martin Crowe, Richard Hadlee and Lance Cairns. They were boundary hitters. I felt it was better for the team for me to be a nurdler, so to get to 80 it took me a week! I used to drive people away from the ground. Once those players were on song, I could get a single and keep them on song, so we had good partnerships. It meant I was batting for a long time and not getting strike, then nurdling when I did. That is a slight regret but look, does it matter? No! Cricket is the greatest triviality in the world.