A Central Stags icon is to retire from New Zealand Domestic cricket.

At the conclusion of the final Plunket Shield match of the season in progress at McLean Park, captain GREG HAY will hang up baggy green cap number 242.

Hay will do so having chiselled out a significant Central Stags career.

In the past few days, he has become Central’s most capped captain in the Plunket Shield, while leading the team for the 40th and final time this week in Napier.

He is also now only the second man, after Mathew Sinclair, to have scored 7,000 first-class runs for his cherished Association, one of just four players (Hay, Sinclair, Luke Woodcock for the Wellington Firebirds and Peter Fulton for Canterbury) to achieve that weight of runs for a single first-class domestic team in New Zealand.

Along with 1960s skipper Vic Pollard, Hay is also the only Stags captain to have twice lifted the Plunket Shield — in 2018/19, and again last season, serendipitously at his home ground in Nelson.



He was named Central Stags Player of the Year in that 2019 summer, and also achieved that distinction in 2008. He steps down as one of New Zealand Cricket’s most respected domestic players by teammates and opponents alike.

The 39-year-old will retire with a first-class batting average in the 40s, after 106 first-class matches — primarily in the top order.

Of those, 104 have been for Central, alongside two New Zealand A caps on the 2008 tour of India.

It was a career of two parts, having played for the Stags from 2006/07 to 2008/09, then returning from a period in the selection wilderness in 2013/14, through until this week.



An 18th first-class century arrived yesterday for GREG HAY | MBUTCHER


Hay’s longevity speaks of consistency, determination, the regard in which he is held and, above all, success, since his debut in all three formats for the Stags in late 2006.

Hay said there is no doubt in his mind that he will miss the unique world of first-class cricket — the fierce battles, testing mental and physical challenges, and the camaraderie and traditions that go hand-in-hand with the summer game.

“But now is the right time for me to hand over the baton to the younger players coming through.

“We’ve seen, this season, the likes of Curtis Heaphy stepping up with his maiden century in the Plunket Shield after his consistent summer, and top order players scoring a weight of runs for CD A.

“It’s their time, now.”


Hay scored 98 not out on debut at the Basin in 2006 | PHOTOSPORT


Hay was 22 when he first broke into the Stags after emerging, via Nelson Cricket, as a promising player from Waimea College.

He made his List A one-day debut at Trafalgar Park in December 2006 and got off the mark immediately with a half century.

He played his 31st and final List A one-dayer at Pukekura Park in 2019/20, and retires with a healthy List A average of 40.33 — including one match for New Zealand A in India.

In the shortest format, he made the most of a surprise recall to the Stags’ injury-hit T20 team in the 2021/22 summer, after seven years without a T20 selection.

He scored three T20 half centuries in seven games, plundering 234 runs at a 33.42 average as one of the Stags’ top three run-scorers.

The first-class arena remains his first love. His most prolific Plunket Shield season came in 2017/18 when he amassed 786 runs from just nine matches — including three centuries and five half centuries.




He was instrumental in the Central Stags’ Plunket Shield championship win that summer, under skipper Will Young. They backed it up the following season, under Hay in his first year as the new first-class captain, after Young sought to refocus on his batting in order to push his case for BLACKCAPS selection.

Lance Hamilton, Central Districts CEO and former teammate, said Hay was the definition of a consummate professional.

“Haysie has always set high standards for himself, and expected the same in return from those around him.

“He has proven his loyalty to both the team and the organisation over a long period of time, and deserves his place near the top of the CD run-scoring leaderboard.”




After a special century in his swansong match this week, Hamilton said there is no doubt one last victory at McLean Park to celebrate with his team will be top of Hay’s agenda.

“I know how much his baggy green means to him, and how tough this decision to retire would have been for him.

“I also know that those internal drivers that have kept him at the top of his game over two decades don’t go away when you retire, and I’ve got no doubt Haysie will find success in whatever field he throws himself into next.

“I personally will miss having him around on a regular basis, and he will leave a big hole in the dressing room.”

The Central Stags are leading the Otago Volts on the first innings on the penultimate day in Napier, Hay having reached 150 in his innings after nine hours and counting in the middle.




Article added: Tuesday 26 March 2024

Author: Margot Butcher


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