Wellington: New Zealand fast bowler Blair Tickner wants to bring some cheer to the victims of Cyclone Gabrielle by helping the Black Caps win the second Test against England, starting on Friday.
Tickner joined the clean-up operation in his devastated home region still reeling from the deadly floodwaters.
Tickner, 29, made his debut in New Zealand’s 267-run defeat against England in the first Test, before being released for two days this week to help his father, whose home was wrecked by the cyclone which claimed 11 lives.
Tickner said he will give his all to beat England and square the two-match series before heading home again to offer more help.
“I definitely want to get my first win in Test match cricket and really want to do it for the people of Hawke’s Bay,” Tickner told reporters.
Floodwaters left thousands without power, marooned communities and damaged properties, especially in the eastern region of Hawke’s Bay, where Tickner’s dad John lives.
Choking back tears
“My father’s house has been fully destroyed. It was good to get back, help them out,” said an emotional Tickner.
“It’s just hard times for the whole region so we helped out neighbours and whoever we could.
“It’s been tough, it’s really tough at the moment, but Hawke’s Bay is staying strong.
“Having grown up there, it’s hard to talk about,” he said, choking back tears.
“Test cricket doesn’t feel hard after seeing stock dead on the side of the road and grown men crying about their homes with their lives flipped upside down.
“Cricket is nothing compared to what people are going through at the moment.”
Tickner took 4-127 against England on his New Zealand debut despite knowing his home region had been ravaged.
He was grateful that his father was briefly in the Mount Maunganui crowd to see his Test debut.
“You dream about your Test debut forever and expect your family to be there, my dad was good enough to come through, taking generators down to Hawke’s Bay to help people,” Tickner added.
“He just stopped in for about half an hour, luckily saw my first Test wicket and then went on to a seven-hour drive home to help everyone.”
New Zealand Cricket has said the first One Day International against Sri Lanka at Auckland’s Eden Park on March 25 will be a fund-raiser for the cyclone’s victims.
“Hopefully we can have a sell-out and all that money goes to them,” Tickner said.
“It’s been hard for everyone throughout the country.”
Meanwhile, England have named an unchanged team after captain Ben Stokes said they had played “the perfect game” to go 1-0 up in the series.
The tourists dominated the first Test in Mount Maunganui to win by 267 runs with 40-year-old fast bowler James Anderson claiming seven wickets.
The haul has seen him return to the top of the Test bowling world rankings for the sixth time in his career and the first time since 2018, deposing Australia captain Pat Cummins.
Stokes was not surprised Anderson had returned to the pinnacle after claiming match figures of 7-54 at the Bay Oval, forming part of a potent pace trio with Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson.
“I don’t think he’ll be that fussed by it, to be honest. He’ll just keep doing his thing,” Stokes said on Thursday.
“I think, and a lot of guys in the dressing room do, that Jimmy has been certainly one of the best in the world for a long, long time.
“He’s someone I know I can throw the ball to when I need a wicket, so having someone like him along with Broady and Robbo is a real treat to be able to captain at the moment.”
Stokes said consideration had been given to resting one or more of his front-line seamers for the Basin Reserve contest but all three informed him on Thursday they felt fresh and ready to go.
He hinted the trio may have been motivated by the grass-laden nature of the pitch, which appeared to hold the promise of sideways movement.
“It is a fine line between picking your strongest 11 but then also making sure your bowlers are a hundred per cent ready,” Stokes said.
“It was pretty easy to name the team once they gave the all clear they were all good to go.”
Last week’s win was England’s 10th win from 11 Tests under Stokes, and England’s first on New Zealand soil in 15 years.
Stokes was proud his team achieved it by adhering to a game plan that involved piling pressure on New Zealand’s top order when they batted in seam-friendly conditions under lights.
“When we feel like it’s time to put the other team under pressure, that’s what we try and do and we were able to do that,” Stokes said.
“I think we played near enough the perfect game, considering it was a day-night Test match.
A draw or win in Wellington would subject New Zealand to their first home series defeat in six years.