It is 20 years since former North Otago cricketer David Sewell made his test debut for New Zealand. Sewell played in the second test against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo but never got a chance to play for the Black Caps again. The lean left-arm fast bowler, who recently turned 40, reflects on his brief taste of international cricket with Hayden Meikle
Q: Can you believe it is 20 years since you played your test?
Hah, yeah. Time flies, I suppose. It seems quite a while ago. Life has moved on.
Q: Take me back to 1997. Do you recall how you got told you were going to play for New Zealand?
We were on a New Zealand Academy tour around South Africa. Sort of a development tour. Dayle Hadlee was the manager of the team and he was the one who broke the news. It was actually a really bittersweet conversation because my Granddad had just passed away. So Dayle said, ‘I’ve got two lots of news for you.’ Mum and Dad had been trying to get hold of me. I had some mixed feelings, it’s fair to say.
Q: What was it like when you joined the New Zealand team?
It was quite exciting, really, and I was already familiar with quite a few guys in the team. There were three or four from that Academy tour who were already going to Zimbabwe, and I got called in for Andrew Penn when he got injured. I’d played cricket against a few of the guys, and Matt Horne and Shayne O’Connor from Otago were in there. Paul Wiseman, too.
Q: Do you remember how you felt on the first morning of the test?
I was excited but quite nervous. Looking back, I didn’t bowl that well. I tried a bit hard, and I had all sorts of advice from senior players. I ran in and tried to bowl a million miles an hour. But it was a great experience. The conditions were tough, and it was hot. And at that time, Zimbabwe were quite strong and they enjoyed playing at home. It was hard work and a wee bit frustrating.
Q: You took none for 81 off 19 overs in the first innings, and none for nine off four in the second. Did you get any nicks? Get close to a wicket?
There were a couple of play-and-misses. I probably bowled a wee bit short. There were probably a few chances early on but not so many later on. It would obviously have been nice to get a wicket to get my confidence up. The funny thing is I got one run when I batted and I was not out, so I don’t have a batting average and I don’t have a bowling average.
Q: How close do you reckon you got to another test call-up in later years?
Oh, it’s hard to say. I was bowling quite reasonably three or four seasons down the track. I actually bowled well against New Zealand at one stage, for Otago in a warm-up game. I took five wickets. And I got close to a World Cup one-day squad. But I just couldn’t get back in there.
Q: Where is your New Zealand cap?
It’s just in a wee display box in the office. It’s not hidden, but it’s just in a quiet spot.
Q: You took 218 first-class wickets. Are you proud of what you achieved for the Volts?
Yeah, I am. I loved representing Otago over nine or 10 seasons. I enjoyed my time down there, and I’m reasonably happy with how I went.
Q: At just 28, you retired from first-class cricket. Was that the right call to make?
I sort of felt I was just going through the motions a bit. I wanted to play all formats of cricket but I was really just stuck in the four-day team, or down in the B team, and I lost a bit of motivation. I think I pulled out at about the right time.
Q: How did it feel, a few years after that, to help North Otago win the Hawke Cup for the first time?
That’s one of the highlights of my time with any team. It was pretty special. We were playing a major team, Manawatu, and no-one really gave us a chance. But we knew we had a good side, and we had a good environment, and we went under the radar a bit. It was a really good feeling to win it.
Q: Where are you, Ann-Marie and the kids living these days?
We’re up in Rolleston. We’re really enjoying it because there are a lot of families of a similar age. The kids love it. I’m an electrician up here.
Q: Any involvement with cricket now?
The kids are taking over now. It’s their time. Oliver is 12. He plays cricket on Saturday mornings. Eva – she’s 9 – does athletics. And Lily is 7 and she does some have-a-go stuff. So they’re in three different places on Saturday mornings and that keeps us busy.
Q: And you just ran a half-marathon, I hear?
Yeah, it was my second one. It was heaps harder than my first. It was Leeston to Southbridge and back, and there was a nor-wester blowing. I’ve done a bit of running over the last few years, just to keep me doing something. Six months ago, I thought I might as well enter something. I entered the Christchurch half-marathon and ran a pretty fast time so I’d thought I’d try another one.