We love Bruce “Boots” Edgar, the former New Zealand batsman who is opening his innings in the murky, swirling politics of the Kiwi cricketing milieu as general manager of national selection in a few weeks.
Edgar has a lot to answer for as the catalyst for the entire Beige Brigade movement, unbeknownst to him of course. His uniform was the one snapped up by Daniel Vettori and Chris Cairns back in the late 1990s at a fundraising dinner in the UK.
The glorious brown-and-tan slacks and powerfully-collared shirt eventually found their way to the hairy back of Beige Brigade co-founder Mike Lane, who was then in the midst of a lager-fuelled tertiary education at the University of Canterbury.
Edgar is the quintessential low-key Kiwi cricketer. As his profile says, he is the walking definition of “solid rather than spectacular”. A left-hand opening batsman famous for his industrial helmets and sensible cack-handed batting, he was a key cog in the New Zealand team for eight years. With David Roberts he also penned a random, entertaining autobiography, with stacks of pictures, called An Opener’s Tale in 1987. You should buy it.
Edgar was on the scene for many iconic moments in his 103 games for New Zealand between 1978 and 1986.
He is indelibly etched into New Zealand’s collective consciousness for his supporting role in the underarm incident, his magnificent unbeaten 102 compiled from the full 50 overs overshadowed by the “possibly a little bit disappointing” events at the other end involving Chappell, McKechnie and Marsh. Along with McKechnie’s bat throw, Marsh’s head-shaking, and Geoff Howarth’s sock-clad rage, Edgar’s understated two-fingered gesture to Chappell is a memorable feature of that dark day in 1981.
Bruce Edgar was also front and centre when the Babylonian fire of West Indies was neutralised by New Zealand in 1980. The four horsemen of the apocalypse arrived in the colder climes of Aotearoa with their intimidatory reputations and with Australian scalps hanging from their brazen belts, only to be frustrated by umpires and stoic defence from blokes like Edgar. In the first Test, he set the gritty scene for his team, batting 300 minutes for 65 and not departing until New Zealand had taken a first-innings lead.
This was a series played long before cricketers were armour-clad in protective gear reminiscent of hockey goalkeepers and Michelin men. But they improvised. Edgar had his mother sew him a chest pad and he cut up a mattress to use as a thigh pad against the pace battery.
Ironically it was an ineffective thigh pad that saw him retire hurt after a thunderbolt from Ian Botham when anchoring the top order with John Wright as part of the 1983 team that claimed New Zealand’s first Test victory over England. In typically solid and unspectacular fashion, Edgar hobbled back into the fray to compile 84 from 207 balls and was the ninth man out as New Zealand assumed a match-winning lead of 152.
The last time we saw Boots using the willow in anger was in the curtain-raiser at the fantastic Fill The Basin event in Wellington back in 2011, starring Shane Warne, Stephen Fleming and some dreadful cricketing prowess from Prime Minister John Key. Despite being fifty-mumble at the time, Boots looked to be in sublime touch, with a bright and breezy 37. Perhaps he was a repressed limited-overs player after all?
Unlike his predecessor in the selection role, Edgar boasts a curriculum vitae exhibiting plenty of cricketing scars upon his back. Given Edgar’s background working for banks and investment houses, it was no surprise to see David White describe him as “methodical and logical, with exceptionally good attention to detail”.
As well as being able to use spreadsheets and accounting acronyms in anger, Edgar brings another crucial skill to the table: the long-term respect of many in New Zealand cricket circles. This may lead to a few less media stories and diatribes from former players – terrible news on the salaciousness front – but it’s a good outcome for NZ Cricket. It is one organisation that could do with a bit more washing being done in its laundry rather than out in public.
We’re looking forward to seeing Edgar involved, probably endlessly walking around the boundary in a tracksuit with a pensive look and an iPad. It’s always nice to have a cult hero back in the mix, especially one without an ego the size of a small continent.