`Fair bit of relief’ over cup


North Otago manager Hamish McMurdo had one overwhelming emotion when he watched as the Hawke Cup victory was sealed in Westport on Sunday.
“Just a fair bit of relief, to be honest,” he told the Oamaru Mail.
“It’s been three years of planning and preparation to get this far and it felt like we had to lose one to know how to win one.”North Otago dominated most of the play but had a shaky patch on the opening day, when it slid from 101 for two to 114 for eight.
The situation looked grim before wicketkeeper Andrew Grubb nudged his way to a valuable 23 and the Penguins reached a score (143) that, in the context of the game, was decent.
“When we batted first and lost that clump of wickets, there was certainly some concern,” McMurdo said.
“But we played the better cricket over the course of the three days.”The other key individual contributors were Francois Mostert (13 wickets), veteran opening batsman Duncan Drew (45 in the first innings), Stephan Grobler (61 in the second) and 15-year-old star Llewy Johnson (44 not out in the second).
“What people probably didn’t realise was that he [Duncan Drew] got injured. He did a hamstring and he just battled through it, the whole way. That’s guts for you.
“Dunc’s innings was massive in the context of the game. He was really the glue for the innings,” McMurdo said.
“Someone had to step up in the second innings, and Stephan did it. And young Llewy, you know, that was just such a mature innings.
“Francois again just showed what he can do. He wanted wickets. He was focused, he was determined and he really put it all out there.”McMurdo said North Otago would now prepare with intensity for the formidable challenge posed by Hawkes Bay next week.
“We have to sit down and cook up a different plan. We’ll look at how we want to play, and think about our own conditions and what suits us.
“We’re all about trying to do things first. So the next step is becoming the first North Otago team to defend the Hawke Cup.
“That’s a good challenge for everybody to keep at the forefront of their minds. We’ll have to play better, and we think we can.”
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