A young South Wairarapa cricketer had the “time of [his] life” at the Basin Reserve last month, getting to share the pitch with some of his sporting heroes.
Featherston local Ben Jaspers [nine] was one of the winners of the ANZ Coin Toss Kid competition – and got to help decide who would bat or bowl first at the Black Caps v England test match on 24 February.
At the match, Ben joined captains Ben Stokes and Tim Southee on the field for the pre-match coin toss, appearing on the game’s live broadcast and posing for a photo with the players afterwards.
He also got to meet Black Caps favourite Tom Blundell, who presented him with a bat – which he said has been attached to his hand ever since.
The experience was a thrill for the youngster, who has been playing club cricket since the age of five.
“It was the best time of my life! I saw one of my friends from school in the crowd [during the coin toss] – he cheered me on,” Ben said.
“It was so cool to meet Kane Williamson and Tom Blundell. They both signed my bat.
“I’m going to keep the bat Tom gave me until I’m grown up.”
Ben, who plays for the Martinborough Junior Cricket Club, said he learnt a lot from watching the match: “I know to never bowl at the pads of a batsman!”
ANZ head of sponsorship Sarah Rogan said the organisation is proud to give young fans like Ben a chance to take part in pre-match customs “alongside their heroes”.
“ANZ has been a sponsor of New Zealand cricket for more than two decades, and the ANZ Coin Toss experience has been a key part of that,” she said.
“Sport is such an important part of a child’s wellbeing, both mentally and physically. We hope that by experiencing the magic of standing centre pitch, kids feel inspired to give it their best at their own training and games.
“Hopefully, this experience inspires the next generation of Black Caps and White Ferns to follow their dreams.”
Applications to take part in the ANZ Coin Toss experience are still open. More information is available online at www.anzcricketworld.co.nz