What does a professional sportsperson do when their top-level aspirations have been cut short, and they’ve still got lots to offer?
In the case of former New Zealand T20 specialist Ronnie Hira, it includes tearing a local rival apart in a club game with returns any cricketer could only dream about.
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The 34-year-old Hira, who played 15 T20 games for the Black Caps, scored a half century at world record pace from 12 balls for North Shore against Takapuna to go alongside an astonishing 14 wickets in the game.
The fastest half centuries scored in any form of professional cricket have also come off 12 deliveries and it’s a feat only achieved by four men: Chris Gayle (twice), Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Shahzad and Hazratullah Zazai.
Takapuna were tempting North Shore to set a target but it backfired on them and they lost by close to 100 runs. The Devonport arena became Hira’s playground as he reached 50 off just 12 rocks, and spun Takapuna into oblivion with his left-arm orthodox tweakers.
“It could have been a few balls less — I let two go, one down leg side and one down the off,” Hira told the NZ Herald about his batting blitz.
“They were trying to make a game of it but were still using their best spinners and bowling to a plan.”
Batting at number five, Hira ended up with 73 scored in just 20 minutes from 22 balls, including seven sixes and seven fours, in the Hedley Howarth Championship two-day game.
Footage, kindly supplied by the North Shore Cricket Club, shows just how dominant Hira’s overall performance was.
The match was also a rare chance for Hira to get a long bowl because North Shore’s main leg-spinner was away. His match figures were 14/78 from 43 overs, including eight wickets in the second innings.
Hira was disappointed to be left out of the Auckland Aces this season after helping them into the final of last year’s Super Smash — New Zealand’s domestic T20 competition, similar to the BBL in Australia.
Hira played his last T20 international in 2013 and five years ago, batting woes meant Canterbury — coached by current national boss Gary Stead — let the all-rounder go. That was his last professional contract, and he’s worked in marketing and e-commerce since.
Despite taking the plunge with a real job, Hira said it’s a tricky zone for anyone such as himself who retains high level aspirations yet needs to ensure they can make a living.
You get the feeling that if the Aces came calling again, he wouldn’t say no. But it’s also tough to push a case.
Hira and wife Roshney have a four-year-old, and another child due in June. His club heroics come on a very limited training regimen, around work and family life.
He has one batting session at Eden Park each week, a 5am start, and doesn’t practice his bowling at all apart from rolling the arm over on match days.
“North Shore is a proud club with a lot of history — some members said it was one of the finest team performances, full stop,” Hira said of his stunning club game.
“Takapuna have had it over us for the last 10 years but we’ve had a couple of wins this season which we’re very happy about.”
This article first appeared on the NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission