New Zealand all-rounder at centre of bizarre US Customs case
New Zealand cricket all-rounder Jimmy Neesham last week found himself at the centre of a bizarre and controversial piece of investigation by US Customs officials in New York.
Neesham was travelling through the US with team mates from his Caribbean Premier League side, Guyana Amazon Warriors, en route to a match. When Warriors players retrieved their cricketing kit after a flight, it was found that one member of the team had had his bat ‘searched’—by having four holes drilled deep into the sides, rendering it useless.
The bat, which is now known to have belonged to his team mate, West Indian opening batsman Lendl Simmons, was originally thought to have been Neesham’s. Instead, it turns out that he was simply the chronicler of the somewhat unorthodox investigation. It is thought that US officials believed that Simmons’ bat may have been being used to transport drugs, hence their overenthusiastic exploration of the West Indian’s willow.
After the players discovered what had taken place, the Kiwi all-rounder tweeted a photograph, with the message: “Imagine if your gear went through America and they drilled holes in your bat to look for drugs.” Neesham’s tweet (@JimmyNeesh) has now gone viral, with over 3,000 re-tweets from cricket lovers around the world, with the story appearing on a host of international news sites. He later clarified his role in the extraordinary event, by tweeting, “Just to clarify again, the bat belongs to Lendl Simmons. Pretty happy I managed to dodge that bullet!”
However, there is no suggestion that the 29-year-old Simmons was under any suspicion or that the bizarre bat-drilling episode was part of any wider drugs investigation, nor is it thought to be connected in any way to the recent match-fixing scandals that have plagued international cricket. Rather, it seems that Simmons was simply the victim of some overly-officious customs officers who had little or no knowledge of cricket and the equipment used in the game.
Before Neesham’s clarification that the bat actually belonged to Simmons, the New Zealand Cricket Museum (@NZCricketMuseum) tweeted the Kiwi to ask, “If that bat’s now as useless as it appears, do you fancy donating it our way? Interesting story to tell our punters!”
The 23-year-old Black Caps all-rounder, who has played in four tests for New Zealand (making a century against the West Indies on debut) and 11 one-day internationals, is one of four Kiwi cricketers currently plying their trade in the Caribbean Premier League. Neesham is joined by batsman Martin Guptill at Guyana Amazon Warriors, while former Black Caps skipper Daniel Vettori plays for the Jamaica Tallawahs, and Ross Taylor is currently turning out for Trinidad and Tobago.