A Queenstowner was in the crowd supporting banned Aussie cricketing great David Warner when he returned to the crease last month.
Jeremy Pyers, who recently settled in the resort after coming and going for 10 years, watched his great mate blast a match-winning 155 not out for Sydney’s Randwick Petersham Cricket Club, bringing out his trademark leap when he brought up his century.
For his role in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa early this year, Warner was banned from international and state cricket till next March.
Though some, including ex-Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum, mocked him for his century-making heroics in a lower-grade match, Pyers says Warner performed under pressure before a large crowd and media presence and against “probably the best bowler in the world at the moment”, Josh Hazlewood.
Pyers says he first befriended his mate when his company sponsored Warner’s club team six or seven years ago.
The pair helped put on a Queenstown 6s cricket tournament two years ago, while Warner and his wife Candice holidayed here last August.
“Coming to Queenstown changed his view on New Zealand because he used to just go to Auckland, Wellington or wherever and crowds would be quite abusive.
“Then, when he walked around Queenstown for four or five days, there was nothing but affection, so he thinks Kiwis are terrific now.
“He and Candice love the place – it’s probably his favourite destination outside Sydney.
“We helicoptered to Cecil Peak and hit some golf balls off it.
“He wants to invest in Queenstown – we’re looking at a few things now – and he’ll spend a lot more time here when he retires.”
Pyers says he went over to South Africa before the scandal unfolded as he sensed his mate was coming under pressure due to a heavy playing itinerary and crowd abuse directed at him and his wife.
“Then all hell broke loose so it was good to be there.”
Pyers says Warner reciprocated his support when he was going through a divorce early this year while still living in Brisbane.
“Even though he was going through his own stuff, he was jumping on planes and coming up to make sure I was OK.
“That sort of stuff, no one really sees – he’s a wonderful bloke.”