Cricket: Blackcaps fast bowler Blair Tickner reveals heartbreak of test debut as Hastings home hit by Cyclone Gabrielle

Blair Tickner's test debut for the Blackcaps should have been one of the best days of his cricketing career. 

Instead, the fast bowler struggled to put thoughts of what was happening in his Hawke's Bay home, struck by Cyclone Gabrielle, out of his mind.

Hastings native Tickner, 29, played in whites for his country for the first time at Mt Maunganui, as New Zealand fell to a 267-run defeat to England at Bay Oval.

In the days after the loss, Tickner and Central Districts teammate Will Young were released from the national squad to rush home to help cyclone victims.

Blair Tickner celebrates taking a wicket.
Blair Tickner celebrates taking a wicket. Photo credit: Getty Images

Now preparing for the series finale at Wellington, Tickner has come to grips with the devastation in the region. That emotion is visible on the face of the usually intimidating fast bowler, whose test exploits have provided some small comfort to those suffering.

"The only thing I kept going back to was my family saying it was the only bright light at the moment," said Tickner, fighting back tears. "It was hard.

"Obviously, you grow up there as a kid… it's just crazy to be honest, it's hard to talk about to be honest.

"Luckily, my dad's got a hire business, so we've been clearing neighbours' stuff using the forklift and loader. I actually got my old man's loader stuck… hopefully he doesn't watch this.

"It's about a metre in mud at the moment. I probably shouldn't have driven around the neighbour's yard, but they said it wasn't that deep and I got it stuck, so sorry about that, dad."

Responding to the effects of the cyclone, NZ Cricket and ANZ have teamed up to raise money for the Red Cross Disaster Fund.

Tom Blundell and Blair Tickner.
Tom Blundell and Blair Tickner. Photo credit: Getty Images

The first one-day international between the Blackcaps and Sri Lanka, scheduled for Eden Park on March 25, will be a fundraising effort, with all ticket proceeds going to cyclone relief. ANZ has already pledged $1 million, while public donations are also opened.

"We were wanting some way to help out where we could," continued Tickner. "It's awesome to see NZ Cricket and ANZ coming forward for the first game against Sri Lanka.

"Hopefully, we can have a sell out and all that money goes to them. The cyclone [has affected] all around New Zealand.

"It's been hard for everyone throughout the country, not just Hawke's Bay. I just want everyone to go out and support.

"You can donate food, clothing all around New Zealand at the moment. Everyone can help."

On the pitch, Tickner hopes the Blackcaps have taken onboard the lessons of the Mt Maunganui and dedicates his upcoming display to his region.

"There was a lot going on, but it was great to have a full crowd, with the Barmy Army," he said. "It was a good experience.

"The first one's always the hardest, I hear. It'll be good to go come the next one.

"I definitely want to get my first win in test match cricket and really want to do it for the people of Hawke's Bay.

"Now we've banded together as a team and fundraising this money, it's going to be very special for me."