Cricketers' night out as NZ PM plays host to Ind, NZ teams

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key hosted an official dinner for the Indian team which was also attended by Vettori-led national side at the parliament.

updated: March 06, 2009 13:29 IST
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New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Thursday hosted an official dinner for the visiting Indian team which was also attended by Daniel Vettori-led national side at the parliament here.

Welcoming Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men and the Kiwis, John Key quipped that the tight finishes in the matches between the two teams had made for some sleepless nights in his household.

"I have a 13-year-old son (Max), who is the cricket follower in our household. These tight late games are playing havoc with the schedule in our house because every time I return from a function late in the night, my son is watching cricket. So these tight finishes have made for some sleepless nights in our household," said Key.

"I told him that I was going to meet the cricketers from the Indian and New Zealand teams and he gave me a list of names from both sides whose autographs he wanted. So Dhoni and Daniel, if I come up and ask for some autographs, it is not for me, it is for my son Max," he added.

Talking about the attacks on the Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore on Tuesday, Key said, "I would like to say quite simply it was a despicable act and the government, like everyone, was shocked and condemns what took place."

"It must be very upsetting for many of the players who are here this evening. Our hearts go out to the players and to the families of those who were killed in the attacks," Key said.

"It is the intention of the New Zealand government to send a message to the Sri Lankan cricket team. Also, cricket is a gentleman game and when you start seeing terrorism translating into attacks on international teams, you know the world is taking a very unsafe step and one that we must all stand up and condemn," he added.

Key also recalled the feats two greats of India and New Zealand cricket, Kapil Dev and Sir Richard Hadlee. "The history of cricket between New Zealand and India is one that goes back a long way. Those of us who play a bit of backyard cricket are just as likely to be belting out the names of Sachin Tendulkar or Bishan Bedi as we do the names of a New Zealand player.

"I fondly remember that back in 1990, when Sir Richard Hadlee took his 400th wicket, Sanjay Manjrekar and the Indian cricket team responded by presenting him with 400 roses. A few years later, Kapil Dev set the record for the most Test wickets by bowling out Blair Hartland to equal the mark of 431 wickets," he recalled.

He also commended former New Zealand batsman John Wright for his notable performance as India coach. "We must also acknowledge John Wright who has been a very successful coach with the Indian team."

While wishing both teams success, Key said, "The real winners will be the New Zealand public who will get to watch some fabulous cricket."

Responding to Key's address, Indian captain Dhoni said, "For most of us, the youngsters who are part of this Indian team, it is our first trip to New Zealand. In the last 10 days that we have spent over here, we have found out whatever we have heard about New Zealand, it is exactly the same. It is a beautiful country and has wonderful people.

"We as the Indian cricket team acknowledge the fact that we are here to entertain you throughout this summer.

"Hopefully, we will make your good summer even better. As far as Mr Prime Minister is concerned, me and Daniel will talk to our respective teams and tell them not to take the game till the last over or the last few overs so that we can take a bit of tension away from you (Mr Key)," Dhoni said.