Peter Drysdale makes first-class debut aged 33 with 19 ND players unavailable

Drsydale is the MMCC
22 Apr

Peter Drysdale waited an awful long time to get a shot at his first-class debut. Then he waited two more years.

The younger brother of two-time Olympic rowing gold medallist Mahe Drysdale finally made his debut for Northern Districts in the Plunket Shield on Wednesday aged 33, making five off 31 balls batting at No.5.

Drysdale was one of seven debutants in their four-day game against Wellington in Whangarei, with the ND side having an astonishing 19 players unavailable.

With 13 members of that squad now in isolation, Black Caps allrounder Colin de Grandhomme unavailable due to personal reasons and Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Mitchell Santner and Tim Seifert playing in the Indian Premier League, Drysdale has been given a second opportunity to finally play first-class cricket.

“It’s been a long time coming ... I got pretty close two years ago,” he said on Tuesday.

The left-hand bat and offspin bowler was set to play for ND versus Auckland at the same Cobham Oval venue two years ago.

The Black Caps were returning from Australia after their scheduled three-game ODI series had been cancelled after game one as the Covid-19 pandemic broke in this region for the first time.

“There was a bit of conjecture as to whether they would be available for the Plunket Shield round,” Drysdale said.

“I was even told I was in the XI, but it wasn’t to be as it got called off two days before the game. It was the second-to-last round, and that and the final round were cancelled.”

The Tauranga-based allrounder with wonderful initials for a scorebook – RPO, Rupert Peter Owens – said he was always hopeful that he could put performances in that would get him selected again.

“There’s so much depth at ND ... so many Black Caps, then when they’re away, so many quality cricketers who are contracted.

“So there was always that realisation that personally I needed the Black Caps to be away, a few injuries and for my form to be going really well. You always have the acceptance as well that it might not happen, but if you play the game for the right reasons – I enjoy my training and I enjoy the game – then that doesn’t really matter.

“The seven debutants, all these guys have been knocking on the door in their own right for different periods of time.”

Drysdale made his minor association debut for Bay of Plenty against Hamilton in Taupo in 2009 and a decade later became just the third player behind Mike Wright and Derek Beard to play 100 games for BOP.

The 33-year-old said he’s worked hard on his game.

“When I started, I could hardly hit it off the square ... pretty boring, but I’ve tried to develop my game. There’s still some limitations.”

The ND side which batted first on Wednesday is captained by Black Caps legspinner Ish Sodhi, and Drysdale laughingly acknowledged Sodhi will get to bowl before he does.

“He’ll be very generous if he throws me the ball.”

Drysdale said his older brother, who won two gold medals and a bronze in the men’s single scull at the Olympic Games, was passionate about cricket.

“We used to play in the backyard, more like french cricket with a small area, but I did get a hundred against him one day.

“I don’t know if we played again. He's probably a bit more ruthless than me – maybe that’s where he got where he did.”

Drysdale said the debutants were thinking of the men they were replacing.

“Obviously it’s a great opportunity for the guys who are here, but we’re very mindful of the lads that were involved last week. Some of them have been pretty sick, and we would have liked the chance to come in other circumstances.”

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