Sir Roger Bhatnagar’s impressive collection of memories and momentoes has been donated to Auckland Cricket and will be showcased permanently in The Bert Sutcliffe Lounge on Eden Park’s outer oval.
Sir Roger started Sound Plus, an electronics retail store that eventually grew to include the Noel Leeming chain and the Pacific Retail Group of companies. As an avid rugby and cricket supporter, many well-known local cricketers gifted him memorabilia throughout the years.
Although his retail success is of note, many people will also remember Sir Roger fondly for his contribution to the Auckland and New Zealand sports community, for his generous donations to sporting causes and his employment of many players in an era when sport was semi-professional in New Zealand and players genuinely struggled with living costs. They became brand ambassadors for his company.
Sir Roger and his family wanted to donate his collection to be shared with others who are just as passionate about cricket. The donated memorabilia will showcase many stars of the sport who also represented Auckland.
Auckland Cricket Association CEO Iain Laxon says, “Auckland Cricket is delighted to have the chance to share some of this country’s great cricket moments and memories, and we thank Sir Roger Bhatnagar for his generosity in allowing us to do that.”
His collection includes pieces from Sir Richard Hadlee, Martin Crowe, Jeff Crowe, John Wright and Dipak Patel.
Eden Park’s CEO Nick Sautner says, “Eden Park has had a proud association with Auckland Cricket for over 110 years. Some of New Zealand’s most memorable cricketing highlights have been at Eden Park.”
The collection was launched at Eden Park on Friday 24 November 2017 with the Bert Sutcliffe Lounge being officially re-opened by Rt Honourable Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.
Eden Park began as a cricket ground in 1903, due to the vision of Harry Ryan, a cricket enthusiast who approached landowner John Walters to lease part of his land as a sports field.
In the book Eden Park: A History, the authors write, “Certainly the rough paddock strewn with stones, studded with outcrops of rock and streaked with cowpats, falling away to a boggy trough that filled in a downpour and remained flooded throughout the winter, looked better suited to frog-hunting or duck-shooting than cricket, let alone rugby. Ryan knew or at least imagined better.”
Times have certainly changed and Eden Park continues to grow and develop as the home of cricket in Auckland.