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A decade on, tragedy of Christchurch earthquake still an aching pain for the White Ferns


Like most New Zealanders, it’s a date Frankie Mackay, a Canterbury all-rounder and member of the White Ferns squad, would not soon forget. It was a day when a major earthquake of 6.3 on the Richter scale sent shockwaves across the South Island, hitting the heart of Christchurch in the Canterbury region, the second largest city. most populous in New Zealand, causing widespread devastation and claiming up to 185 lives.

Ironically, the day had started on a hopeful note for Mackay, then 21, who was told she would be making her debut against Australia in the upcoming ODI series. Shortly before 1 p.m., the team gathered at their Cathedral Square hotel for a training session.

Mackay had just walked through the hotel lobby and was in the plaza, when the ground beneath her began to shake vigorously. A panicked Mackay had lost her sense of physical perspective, when moments later much of the magnificent tower of Christchurch Cathedral collapsed. Mackay, along with the rest of his teammates, took cover. When the earthquake stopped, none of the crew were injured, but they were covered in dust from the debris.

They carefully gathered outside the hotel premises, where some preferred to sit as it made them feel a lot more secure. Mackay added: “The White Ferns team had curled up into little balls in the middle of Cathedral Square.” A teammate began removing the rubble to see if anyone was trapped below. Mackay recalls seeing the fire blaring from the adjacent Press Building, home of the Christchurch Morning Newspaper, which had collapsed. When she saw people come out with blood on their faces, the enormity of the situation sank. It was not just the beloved cathedral. “You think we’re in a world of trouble here.”

She would continue to assert herself as a versatile with great prowess and parsimonious bowling. Between 2011 and 2014, she was a regular on the New Zealand women’s teams ODI and T20, during which time she traveled to the 2012 T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka and the 2013 One Day World Cup. in India. A subsequent loss of form relegated her to the sidelines. After a five-year hiatus, she returned for the T20 series at home against India after being named the Burger King Super Smash Player of the Year at the annual New Zealand Cricket Awards this season.

A decade after this horrific natural calamity, Trevor Auger, a former Auckland-based club cricketer, had published a book titled, ‘The Hot Sun on My Face: The History of Women’s Cricket in New Zealand’, which, among other things, made it a living chronicle, the events of that cold and humid February afternoon. Interestingly, Auger hadn’t planned to include this section in his book until a chance meeting with Mackay in 2018. “My meeting with Mackay moved me deeply. She was the catalyst, and it’s her story that I choose to write in detail in this book, ”Auger told The Indian Express over the phone. The 676 pages, in preparation for over four years, documents women’s cricket in New Zealand from the late 19th century to current legends of the White Ferns team.

Auger was not in Christchurch or any other part of the South Island when tragedy struck. Nonetheless, he offered several anecdotal evidence of the chaos and deep scars the chain of events had left on people’s minds. “When the earthquake hit, I was working for the Ford Motor company in Auckland. But several colleagues in the Christchurch office recounted with fear, when a top of our office building fell into a bus and crushed several people, ”he explained. Besides the loss of several innocent lives, the earthquake, Auger said, was also responsible for the annihilation of the old Lancaster Park and the partial devastation of Christchurch Cathedral – two monumental monuments in the city. “Lancaster Park was an integral part of the city’s sporting ecosystem, the site regularly hosting international cricket and rugby matches. The earthquake had reduced it to rubble. It was only after this incident that the Hagley Oval was refurbished and put on the cricket map. He hosted Sri Lanka in 2015, then the World Cup that year, ”suggested Auger, who had worked as a press scorer at Eden Park in Auckland.

For the past 10 years, Christchurch Cathedral, an imposing neo-Gothic structure, built by famous English architect Sir Gilbert Scott, has stood among debris and rubble, with its tower ravaged. Peter Beck, the dean of the cathedral, had told the BBC: “The heart of the city is broken.”

“It was built by immigrants from England when they arrived in New Zealand in the 19th century. For a long time, this structure has been the identity of this city. Just as New York City has the Empire State Building, Christchurch is known for its namesake: Christchurch Cathedral, ”noted Auger. “I don’t know when the restoration work will start. There is a lot of debate about who will pay for this. Even after all these years, many New Zealanders still struggle with the aftermath. “Even now, when there’s even a slight tremor, my sister and nephew get paranoid,” Auger said.

Former White Ferns cricketer Elizabeth Perry was among many physically and emotionally exhausted by the events of February 22, 2011.

Perry represented White Ferns internationally for seven years from 2010 to 2017 as a skilled all-round bowling player. In addition to her appearances in cricket, she has also represented New Zealand at the international level in hockey. In April 2019, Perry married New Zealand cricketer Maddy Green. She was also simultaneously pursuing her master’s thesis at the time on “The Traveling Athlete: Cricket, Migration and Globalization”. The topic of her study was the experiences of female athletes from New Zealand and Australia who migrate temporarily to play cricket in England. He located the migrating network of women’s cricket in the modern global sporting space and questioned the overall perception of what the typical global athlete is today. At one point, she considered giving up her research and cricket too, before family and friends helped her through this period.

“This thesis has been a continuous reminder of that day for me due to its connection to cricket, but I firmly believe that if it wasn’t for this research I might not have continued my career at all. cricket, ”Auger said in his article. delivered.

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Note: The content and images used in this article is rewritten and sourced from indianexpress.com

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