[ St Albans Centennial Book (1905-2005) ]
Chris Harris joined Priest on the international scene in 1990/91, following in the footsteps of father Zin, and his unbeaten 170 was the highest senior score for the club since Sam Guillen's 162 not out 25 years earlier. But the men's first XI slipped down the table when attempting the unique feat of winning a fifth consecutive two-day title. The women compensated for that by regaining their championship status and having Illingworth and Bond chosen for New Zealand.
Captained by Ben Harris, and with new professional Garfield Charles outstanding with bat and ball in both competitions, the first grade men won the 1991/92 two-day championship and shared the one-day title. Chris Harris went to his first World Cup, something which was to become a regular occurrence.
St Albans truly provided the brains trust for the White Ferns against Australia and to their World Cup in England, with Illingworth captain, McKenna coach and Bond also in the side. Long-serving spinner Andrew Nuttall overtook Tom Burtt's club record of 26,732 deliveries in senior cricket and a young bloke named Chris Martin arrived from Christchurch Boys High School.
The first grade men claimed their sixth two-day championship in eight years in 1993/94 and qualified top of the one-day competition. Five other men's grades also triumphed and Mark Priest was both Canterbury's Player of the Year and the Trust Bank Club Player of the Year. Not to be outdone, Illingworth, McKenna and Bond retained their respective roles in New Zealand's Rosebowl victory over Australia. Illingworth also compiled three club centuries during the season.
Justine Russell increased St Albans contingent in the White Ferns camp against Australia and India in 1994/95. Rutledge reached 400 wicket-keeping dismissals - almost 250 more than the next best - and promptly handed over the gloves to concentrate on his batting. Occasional cameo appearances later nudged his total up to 403. The New Zealand selectors must have had a brief fit of sanity, for the harshly treated Priest played alongside Harris for the Black Caps one-day side in South Africa.
Collectively, the women ruled in 1995/96, claiming championships in all four grades. Russell left for Australia but Dutch (and future New Zealand) international Nicola Payne was a valuable addition. Individually, the highlight was Chris Harris' magnificent innings of 130 in a losing World Cup match against Australia in India. St Albans provided not only the coach (McKenna) and captain (Illingworth), but also the manager (Kay Gilray), when the national women's team toured England. Craig Cumming broke into the Canterbury side; he was later to wear the black cap from Otago.
Kirsty Flavell (née Bond) became the first player to score a double century in a women's Test match while in England in 1996, a magnificent achievement. On her return, however, she retired and transferred to Auckland. The move was temporary and Kirsty now coaches Canterbury. Illingworth also retired after 15 outstanding seasons of senior cricket. Meanwhile, Chris Harris set a new Canterbury batting record of 251 not out against Central Districts at Rangiora and became the first Cantabrian to register more than one double century in a first-class season. Harry got two, plus a score of 198. St Albans held the Petersen Shield for the fourth time in the 1990s.
After compiling 883 runs in her second season with us, Payne (125 not out) shared a new first grade women's partnership record of 245 unbroken with Jo Lawler (99 not out) against South Canterbury in 1997/98. Priest had another all-too-brief recall to the Black Caps to keep Harris company.
St Albans was blessed with so much depth in its women's section in 1998/99 that two first grade teams were entered. In a thrilling last round the Blue team, inspired by coaching guru McKenna, surged through from fourth to grab the two-day title. That was the highlight of a near clean sweep of the women's silverware, as the club won six of eight available trophies.
Priest assured himself of a permanent place in Canterbury folklore by surpassing Sir Richard Hadlee's record with 290 first-class wickets, then retired. We had gained the services of a new coach and top-order batsman in Cumbrian Steven Knox, who was to become a regular in our ranks.
After having commuted between the Netherlands and New Zealand, Payne settled in this country and made her New Zealand debut alongside Catherine Campbell and Helen Watson in 1999/00. Watson and Amiria Marsh were New Zealand A selections, emulating the recognition of male counterparts Jarrod Englefield and Chris Martin.