New Zealand Cricket has come under fire after rumours emerged that controversial Destiny Church pastor and Vision NZ leader Hannah Tamaki is set to join the Black Caps team.
A source within the team has confirmed that Tamaki will join the squad as it prepares to face India in the second cricket test, which starts this weekend. But New Zealand cricket is staying tight-lipped on the issue, with its media relations manager refusing to confirm or deny Tamaki’s selection.
The team is expected to be named later today, with Tamaki likely to play as a bowler. With Neil Wagner due to return from paternity leave and expected to take his place in the starting lineup, that means two of the team who bowled New Zealand to victory in the first test are set to be dropped.
The rumoured selection of Tamaki has shocked both fans and former players. Many longtime fans have taken to social media to express their dismay at the prospect of Tamaki donning the black cap for New Zealand.
“Totally disgusting, NZ cricket!” wrote one enraged cricket follower on Twitter. “An utter joke.”
Another wrote “A cynical move by cricket bosses to boost viewer numbers. Hannah Tamaki’s unapologetic refusal to learn even basic line and length is a slap in the face to vulnerable young cricketers everywhere.”
Many others have threatened to boycott future cricket games if Hannah Tamaki is selected.
Former batsman Glenn Turner, who played 41 tests for New Zealand, described the selection of Tamaki as “perplexing”, given her lack of consistent form in recent months.
“If it’s true that she’s been selected as a bowler, you would expect to see some good recent first-class results,“ said Turner. “But it doesn’t look like Tamaki’s been taking any wickets, and she can’t even make the Auckland Aces team.”
Others are concerned that the balance of the team will be affected if Tamaki is picked.
Speaking on TV3’s The AM Show, former international Mark Richardson told co-host Duncan Garner that Tamaki’s selection could spell trouble for the Black Caps.
“The current squad has a nice balance, with both left and right arm bowling options, and a good mixture of swing and pace for the captain to choose from,” Richardson said. “I just don’t see what Tamaki has to offer the team.
“If she can get some early movement with the new ball, then maybe she’ll trouble the Indian batsmen. But I just can’t see the likes of Kohli and Pujara having too many nightmares.”
Garner disagreed with Richardson, saying he thought immigrants drinking all our water was a much more serious problem for the New Zealand team.
While Tamaki has so far refused to confirm a move into the Black Caps, the campaign manager for Vision NZ, Jevan Goulter took to Facebook to denounce the party leader’s detractors. In a since-deleted post, Goulter described one critic as a “flattulent [sic] tumbling turdbag with bleeding ears” who should “stuff a live grenade in his mouth”. Goulter has since been sacked for his comments, though he looks set to pick up a lucrative contract playing in the Indian T20 league.
If Hannah Tamaki does play, it will not be the first controversial selection for the team. In 2016 disgraced former MP Aaron Gilmore was rushed into the One Day squad after captain Kane Williamson was injured by a goat during a pre-game warmup. Gilmore’s 124-run partnership with Tony Veitch in the deciding game of the series against Pakistan sealed victory for his team.
And in 2010 blogger Cameron Slater played a solitary test for New Zealand against the West Indies. He scored only three runs before retiring hurt.
The second test starts this Saturday in Christchurch.