Cricketing families are quite common in New Zealand. There are only 4.5 million people in the country to begin with, most of whom practice sporting monogamy, so to speak, as they exclusively play or follow rubgy. It leaves cricket with a significantly smaller talent pool and fewer supporters. But even though the base for the summer sport is not huge, it is dedicated. Often it’s a family tradition.
As a result of which, you have the Hadlees, the Crowes, the Cairnses, the Harrises, the Marshalls, the Rutherfords and the Bracewells to name a significant few. Mostly, however, these are instances of father-son or brother combinations. Very rarely will you come across a brother-sister duo who have played cricket for New Zealand.
Nathan Astle and Lisa Astle (she played only one international game) is one such example. But perhaps the most notable brother-sister pair to have come out New Zealand in recent times is that of Peter and Sara McGlashan.
And it’s quite likely the only case where the sister has comfortably outperformed the brother at the international level, with Sara having made her debut well ahead of Peter — in 2002 as against 2006 — despite being three years younger.
And she is still playing, having accumulated over 115 ODI and 51 T20I caps, while Peter is into his second year of his retirement, having represented New Zealand in four ODIs (all against India during the last bilateral series here) and 11 T20Is.
Still Sara says she owes a part of her success to her brother. She took up cricket because of him. “It’s because of this guy that I started playing. There is a gap of just three years between us, and so I pretty much did anything he did,” Sara says. Which is evident from the fact that like Peter, she too is a wicketkeeper. “Idolised him. He used to go to coaching, I just used to run around chasing balls,” she recollects. Peter was playing first-class cricket in England when Sara made her international debut in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, in 2002. “I was lucky,” notes the proud brother. “It was a really long way away and mum and dad couldn’t make it, so it was nice for me to be there to see her make her debut.”
Their cricketing paths crossed in 2009, when both represented their country in the World T20 in England. Peter says: The Blackcaps didn’t go past the Super 8s stage, while the White Ferns made the final. “She has consistently outperformed me. Made her debut ahead of me and has been named New Zealand’s domestic player of the year. While I might have been paid more and played in front of bigger crowds, she has had a longer career.”
Recently, in a domestic T20 game for Auckland Hearts, Sara hammered a 54-ball century at Seddon Park in Hamilton, the fastest by a New Zealand cricketer. It earned her a place in the New Zealand team again.
However, Sara deems her career as a player is not going to last too much longer, and therefore is taking up coaching assignments to hone her mentoring skills. It has taken her to some of remote parts of the world — places that have little tradition when it comes to cricket. He latest assignment took her to Ratoronga in the Cook Islands last week. ‘’I slowly got into coaching in the last couple of years. I went to the Cook Islands on a week long assignment, doing a little bit of work with their national teams, men’s and women’s,” she says.
“I really liked the fact it’s a quiet and inclusive sport in the Pacific Islands, and not quite viewed as a male dominated sport. It runs on the same level. The trip was a nice eye opener too. You think you’ve got it tough over here when you really haven’t, compared to some of the resources and stuff they work with over there. And still they have absolutely embraced the game.”
In a remote village in the Cook Islands, she informs, there are only 69 people. “And they have two men’s team and a women’s team. It’s basically every single adult person in that village playing cricket.”
Here, too, it looks like she is following Peter’s lead as he too is involved with the Pacific Islands and Maori community, trying to take higher education to them. “I am working at Auckland University of Technology. I work in the south Auckland region, in a part of Auckland that is predominantly Maori and Pacific Islands people, and traditionally there hasn’t been a strong push for them to get into higher education. The challenge has been to encourage the population to look at their university options,” Peter explains.
“It nice to part of that doing something like that for the right reasons. It takes a lot more effort to bring them forward as higher education is quite a foreign concept to most of them. While they might be just as bright as the next person, they don’t necessarily have the same opportunities,” he says.
So what is the reason behind their special affinity towards the Pacific Island and Maori people? “We ourselves have a part Maori heritage from our mother’s side, and Pacific Islands play such an important part, in Auckland life and New Zealand life, with their contribution to rugby,” says Peter.
“It’s hard to be from New Zealand and not have some affinity towards the Pacific Islands and Maori,” he adds. Sarah, of course, nods in agreement.