MOVE over Kalyn Ponga; the Hunter has a new superstar signing.
In what has become the talk of the Newcastle cricket scene, West Indian great and ICC Hall of Fame member Brian Lara has put pen to paper with Newcastle C&S D5’s side The Bennett Hotel Centurions.
Quick thinking from some of the players and Lara’s laid-back and approachable nature have led to the Centurions snaring easily the biggest signing in competition history. “What time do we play tomorrow?” Lara, 47, asked his new teammates after signing on the dotted line at the Albion Hotel at Wickham on Friday.
Lara – who has nearly 12,000 Test runs to his name, more than 10,000 runs from 299 one-day internationals and a top score of 501 not out in first-class cricket – was in the Hunter over the weekend for a number of scheduled appearances.
“He went around and shook everyone’s hands and was really approachable,” Centurions player Darren Wilton said.
“If you wanted to ask him something you just walked up to him, so it just grew out of that.” The Centurions players printed out a C&S registration form at the bar, made their pitch to Lara and handed it over.
“He read it from top to bottom,” Mr Wilton said.
“He’s obviously signed a few contracts in his day.
“He signed it and took it in the nature that it was intended.”
The players filled out the rest of the details, including Lara’s eye-catching statistics and resume.
The paperwork was submitted to the Newcastle C&S Association, complete with an email stating “this is not a hoax” and pictures of Lara signing the contract to prove its authenticity.
“Given our teams recent good form, he may find it difficult to force his way into our top 11 players,” the email addressed to the association reads. And on Sunday afternoon the club’s new No.3 batsman – the 86th Centurion – got the green light.
The club’s focus is on raising money for charity and socialising, but say they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sign one of the greatest cricketers of all-time.
It remains to be seen if he’ll ever play a lower-grade game in Newcastle.
“But if he does it’ll be with us,” Mr Wilton pointed out. “We’re the ones who signed him.”