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Cricket: Adopted Country Comes First

Adopted Country Comes First

Young Matthew Rees-Gibbs may have been born in South Africa, but he’ll be firmly in the New Zealand camp when the Black Caps play the Proteas in the first one-dayer in Auckland tomorrow.

The 11-year-old Hamiltonian (he turns 12 next Tuesday) was plucked from thousands of entries to be one of five winners in MILO's 12th Man cricket competition.

The prize includes an authentic Black Caps one-day uniform and Rees-Gibbs will be in the thick of the action at Eden Park – warming up with the players, joining the captains for the coin toss, having lunch with the team and taking part in an autograph and photo session.

The Year 8 student at Southwell School in Hamilton says he can’t believe his luck and is excited about rubbing shoulders with his favourite player, Daryl Tuffey, and walking out to the middle with Stephen Fleming

Rees-Gibbs shifted to New Zealand with his family seven years ago and only has fleeting memories of his birth country (to go with the faintest hint of a South African accent).

He is a medium-pace bowler for his school’s top team and entered the MILO 12th Man competition at the urging of former New Zealand all-rounder Grant Bradburn, who was providing some coaching tuition at the school. 2.

Rees-Gibbs now has extraordinary access to the Black Caps. New Zealand Cricket CEO Martin Snedden says “this is as close as you can get to being a Black Cap without actually playing” and Courtenay O’Brien, Group Brand Manager MILO, says previous winners have been amazed at the inclusive nature of the Black Caps. “This truly is an experience money can’t buy,” she said.

Rees-Gibbs has no doubt the Blacks Caps will win the match and he’ll be on hand with his entire family – his parents and brother Christopher. It was the best way to ensure he got the day off school…as his Dad just happens to be his school principal!

Interestingly, the country’s most populous region didn’t have a MILO 12th Man winner. The winners for the two matches at Eden Park come from Hamilton and Whangarei.

For Dane Kissel, the 11-year-old winner from Whangarei, the fifth one-dayer at Eden Park will be the first international cricket match he’s been to. He’s only played backyard cricket, but is keen to play for his school or a club next season.

Penny Roy, the only female amongst the winners, hasn’t been to a one-day international either, but she does have plenty of playing experience. She cranked up cricket upon shifting to Wellington from Timaru two years ago, plays for the Karori club and is a member of the Wellington Under-14 rep team. The medium pace bowler is the envy of her three brothers and one sister and says she’s “on a winning run”, having recently won a cricket bat through a competition at her Karori club.

Cashmere Primary school pupil Oscar Green will be taking in the ODI at Jade Stadium in Christchurch and says the win is a triumph of perseverance as he has been entering the MILO 12th Man competition for “quite a few years”. A 3.

wicketkeeper “and okay batsman” for the Sydenham club, the chatty 11-year-old says his mother is scared he will distract the Black Caps because “he talks a lot”. Green describes his MILO win as “astounding” and is looking forward to completing his set of Black Caps autographs. “That’s if I make it to the game,” he said. “My Dad says I should really go to school instead of the cricket and that he’ll take my place as the MILO 12th Man. Like, that’s gonna happen!”

The final winner, Logan Hamilton from Winton, entered the competition because he thought the prize “was cool”. In his first year of boarding school at Southland Boys’ High, the 13-year-old hasn’t been to an international cricket match before but he’s looking forward to being at the fourth one-dayer at Carisbrook in Dunedin to meet the players, particularly Chris Cairns.

The New Zealand v South Africa One-Day International schedule is:

Date Venue
MILO 12th Man 13 Feb Eden Park, Auckland Matthew Rees-Gibbs,

Hamiltn 17 Feb Jade Stadium,


Oscar Green, Christchurch 20 Feb

Westpac Stadium, Wellington Penny Roy, Wellington 24 Feb

Carisbrook, Dunedin Logan Hamilton,

Winton 28 Feb Eden Park , Auckland Dane Kissel, Whangarei

All matches are day-nighters.

© Scoop Media

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