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On the attack .. Regan George in action for Albion during a North Otago senior club game earlier this season. PHOTO: PHIL JANSSEN

Regan George is a quiet achiever in the North Otago cricket team, and a key man in an Albion team hoping to retain the Borton Cup. The 34-year-old batsman tells Hayden Meikle why he is enjoying the sport more than ever.

Q: What’s your background, Regan? You grew up here?
Yep. Went to St Kevin’s. I played age-group cricket for North Otago, and first XI with St Kevin’s. Then I moved around quite a bit. Brisbane, then Melbourne. I came back here in 2012 and sort of got back into it.

Q: You were an Oamaru club man but you made the switch to Albion and won the Borton Cup last year. No regrets?
No regrets. To be fair, it wasn’t about the Borton Cup. It was about getting some enjoyment back, and playing with my cousins, Nathan and Jeremy Smith. It was nice to do that. It took some pressure off. I could just get out there and enjoy it.

Q: And I hear you went over the Holland this year?
I went for a bit of a look over our winter. My girlfriend is from Germany, so it was just a good chance to head over to Europe. I played for a club called Voorburg, and we got second in our league, which was one below the top level. It was a bit of a shock because it was a good level of cricket. One of our young guys just made his debut for Holland. It was a great experience.

Q: You made your North Otago debut way back in 2004. Remember anything about that?
I got rung on the Friday night before the game. I was at an end-of-year work do, so I was feeling pretty happy. John Crombie just told me to turn up at 10am the next day and fill a gap. I ended up opening with my older brother, Matt. It didn’t go too well, it’s fair to say. I’m not sure why either of us was opening.

Q: Why did it take 10 years for you to get another game?
I just wasn’t getting enough runs. I’d get a few runs, but wasn’t getting really good runs. Then I had a cracker year, but that was when North Otago won the Hawke Cup. I was in good form, and thought I’d be close, but I just couldn’t get in.

Q: Last summer, you made a good contribution – 174 runs at 43.5. Was that the first time you really felt established in the North Otago team?
Yeah, I had a good year. And I loved it. When you get some runs, you feel confident, and I definitely felt I had a role to play in the team and I was relaxed about that.

Q: How did it feel to make such a great start to this campaign with an outright win over Otago Country?
Yeah, really good. A couple of really good individual performances, and our fielding was key. When you see Nathan making an unreal century, and Frank [Francois Mostert] taking seven wickets, and Craig [Smith] showing his class, it’s not bad. It’s a good team, everyone gets on pretty well, and everyone is pretty focused on winning.

Q: Did you always know that your wee cousin, Nathan Smith, was destined for big things?
Hah, yeah. I remember we were at their house for Christmas once and we played backyard cricket. He might only have been 7 or 8, but he came in with some thunderbolts. I think both him and Jeremy bowled me out. Then I went to Australia, and when I came back, they were both playing senior cricket. And both got me out for a golden duck the first time they played me.