SI tournament to test players

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Bowl well, take every catch – and scrape together as many runs as possible.
Those are the orders for the North Otago primary schools cricket team as it prepares for the big South Island tournament in the New Year.
Last summer’s team, which finished fifth with three wins from four games, set an extremely high standard for the new crop of youngsters to try to match when the tournament starts on January 9.
Seven players return for another crack at an event that has produced no fewer than 30 Black Caps since its inception in 1963.
North Otago would lean on its tidy skills in the field to stay competitive in every game, coach Stefan Mavor said.
“We’re a really strong fielding team. And we’ve got some quite good bowling too.
“Runs could be tough, especially with the draw we’ve got.
“But as long as we can get to 100-odd, that would give us a fair old chance in any game.”
The tournament features 14 teams, all of which play five games in five days.
North Otago opens with a game against Nelson, followed by a clash with Invercargill Metro. Then comes a very tricky finish to the tournament that features games against powerhouses Dunedin, Christchurch Red and Otago Country.
Mavor said the tournament was always a great experience for the youngsters.
“Enjoying it is the main thing, but it’s also about really testing the boys.
“For the parents, it’s really good just to watch how they grow over the week.
“Sometimes these kids go away and get a bit of a shock. They’re in their own wee world here but it’s good for them to step up to that level and realise how hard they need to work.
“Of course you want to win every game. But as long as we are competitive, we’ll be happy.”
The squad has been training every Monday night and playing games on Sundays.
Their final warm-up game is against Dunedin before the tournament starts.