Bats, clubs and cash

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Queenstown hosts a double dose of nostalgia with two masters sporting events this weekend.

Some 200 middle-aged golfers, cricketers and their families are expected to inject a much-needed boost into the local economy with the Millbrook Masters golf and Mercure Masters cricket tournaments.

Sport won’t be the only winner on the day – competitors plan to chew over old times while sipping wine and trying adventure activities.

The cricket masters – in its second year in Queens­­­­­town – comprises five teams of retired Kiwi international and first-class cricketers who face each other and a local team in Twenty/20 games on Sat­­urday and Sunday at the Events Centre.

Organiser Greg Sulzberg­­er – from the New Zealand Cricket Players Association – says the tournament “adds [more] profile to the area”.

“We’re all eating, dining, staying in hotels and all that sort of stuff. I know there are quite a few guys who are making their trip as part of a larger holiday into the Queenstown area.”

Cricketers kick off the comp with a round of golf at Jack’s Point tomorrow, followed by an evening at Mercure Hotel “where the guys will be sharing old tales and rivalries”, he says.

Local Kevin Burns is back again – last year the former Otago captain/opening bat won the bowling award.

“I don’t know how that happened as I’d done bugger-all bowling since I was a youngster,” he says.

Burns, 48, says his Otago team will be strong but Auckland, who won last year, and newcomers Well­ington will be tough.

Former NZ reps play­­­­ing this weekend include Dipak Patel, Trevor Franklin, Shane Thomson, Ewen Chat­field and Robert Vance.

Meanwhile, 120 Kiwi, Aussie, American and British golfers – and their families – converge on the resort for the exclusive seventh annual five-day Millbrook Masters, starting Sunday.

Organiser Kim Buckley: “Essentially you’ve got 120 people staying in five-star accommodation, playing five rounds of golf, eating out every night of the week, going on all sorts of tiki tours – so it’s quite a significant input into the economy.”