Written by Sriram Veera | Napier | | March 4, 2015 3:36:23 am
Someone calls in a radio show hosted by Mark Richardson, the former New Zealand opener. It’s been a fun show so far, people talking about their debut experiences, first day in jobs, this and that, when this person calls in. “I scored a double hundred on my debut,” and the voice stops. Silence ensues before Richardson mumbles out, “Is that you Matthew Sinclair?” “Yes, and I called in to see how about giving me a job, any ideas?” (Full Coverage| Points table| Fixtures)
Sinclair laughs as he talks about the show now. He is now a real-estate agent in Napier, trying to get some sort of hold on his life which was spinning out of control back then during the radio show. He had retired from cricket in 2013, signed up for government dole, as he tried to find a job to put food on the table for his two young kids, Holly and Liam. Needless to say, signing up for the dole was the toughest thing he had done. “Some of my family and friends were shocked and wondered, ‘what’s happening, mate?’ But I had to do it. I had to put myself out there; a young family, and your Indian readers, where cricketers are stars, probably won’t understand, but there you go. Life isn’t all milk and honey, mate.”
It was a time of bitterness and anger too at the rough card life has dealt him. “I would sit in the nights and wonder ‘how the hell did I get myself into this position! How I have f**ked up’.”
Sinclair wasn’t mentally ready for such a severe slide. Depression was gnawing the corners of his mind and he knew somehow he had to avoid stewing in self-pity. Putting himself out there on the radio like that to listeners nationwide was one such thing. “It was funny actually. A caller suggested I should become a drain cleaner, someone else said curator.” He hoped something would open a door for him.
The phone never rang though. “Why was no one calling me with a job, It was tough scene man. Sometimes, you can’t talk to your wife also about this. Male thing may be, but it took a while.” He got through a job at fishing and hunting business but was made redundant in 9 months. A bottomless pit of despair swirled up again. Luckily, he started talking to people, his friends, psychologist with the Black Caps, former cricketer called Marty Kain, who is in real estate business.
He decided to try his hand in real estate and for the last five months he is working with Harcourts, a big real estate company in Hawkes Bay. It hasn’t changed his life around, though. It’s not a salaried position; he only gets commission cuts from sales made.
His wife works at a barista, a coffee shop, part-time. This entire turmoil post cricket has hit his marriage too. “The personal scene is tough. There are few problems with my wife, I must admit. We are trying to work things together. She has been a cricket widow for a long while — taking care of our kids while I have been away and also, this entire financial scene. It’ not been easy for her. Or for me. We are working at it.” Silence. I don’t know what to say and steer the conversation to his kids.
The reason Sinclair is so candid about stuff is that he wants to ensure, he says, other kids playing the game don’t end up facing similar problems in life. He coaches the young cricketers of Hawkes Bay and often, the talk turns to life. “I tell them, 16-17 of age, that they should have a plan B. They need either to get a degree or have some work experience. You just can’t have ‘I played cricket’ in your CV. It won’t help.”
Sinclair should know. He doesn’t have a university degree and found it immensely difficult to get a job. Did he ever get bitter about having played cricket itself? “No. I love the game. That’s why I am still coaching. I would love to get involved with cricket but we don’t have much of a structure in New Zealand with coaching and stuff. Here is a cricket brain with 20 years’ experience rotting away, lying unused. I had a mixed international career but have 36 first-class hundreds and averaged over 50. Surely, I can be of some help?”
The problem with cricket was how he got so involved with it that it made him “unemployable”. “You get institutionalized in the game. I have often talked about it. Cricket is all you ever know and it’s tough to recover from that.”
Sinclair is trying hard though. Every morning, he leaves the home looking for properties, doing door knocks, putting up Facebook posts, sending out letters to prospective buyers and sellers. “It’s a 24×7 job.” On weekends, he does “open-homes” where people allow potential buyers to walk through properties and talk with real estate agents and decide.
No mention about him being a cricketer? “I get recognised often and if they want to talk about it, I do, but I don’t introduce me that way. I want people to know that I WAS a cricketer, but I am a real estate agent now.”
Hope floated in the first month of moving into Hawkes Bay. His first sale was done in 17 hours. “That felt real good.” Were the celebrations wild? “You can’t afford to. Got to start thinking about the next sale, but yes that sale did give me a lot of confidence. I think I had some scones and savouries after that!”
And Sinclair laughs.