Great start by North Otago in bid for cup

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Southland next up this weekend

HAYDEN.MEIKLE@oamarumail.co.nz

Sceptics question the value of the word ‘‘momentum’’ in a sporting sense but North Otago cricket captain Jordan Horrell is a believer.

North Otago made a flying start to the Hawke Cup qualifying series with an emphatic ninewicket win over Otago Country in Alexandra at the weekend.

The Penguins were able to enforce the followon and chase down a minuscule target to give themselves an immediate boost to their hopes of earning a challenge at the end of the summer.

‘‘It was pretty huge for us,’’ Horrell said.

‘‘We’ve been notorious for not starting well. But if you include last season, we do have a fair bit of momentumbuilding. ‘‘A Hawke Cup season is only four or five games, so if you can put together a couple of good seasons in a row, you can really build on that.’’

District teams that exist on a diet of limitedovers cricket often struggle to bat time and take 20 wickets when the Hawke Cup begins, but North Otago managed to do both at Molyneux Park.

Ben Cant had a whale of a game with 65 in the first innings followed by a fivewicket bag, and Nathan Smith, Stephan Grobler and Horrell all made significant contributions.

‘‘I think we did everything pretty well, but I don’t think we did anything exceptionally well. That’s  actually good because it means we have areas to improve on,’’ Horrell said.
‘‘To get 288 first up, when most of the guys have been playing oneday cricket, was really pleasing, and batting 80 overs was positive. Our bowling was really solid all round. Our fielding was pretty good but we
dropped a couple of catches. ‘‘We certainly won’t be resting on our laurels and thinking we’ve put our best performance out there.’’

Horrell is confident his side can build on that form when it hosts Southland in Oamaru this weekend. The Southlanders are traditionally the toughest team in the zone, and North Otago will need to produce an extremely good allround performance at Milner Park.

‘‘It’s always a big game. We like playing Southland, and I think they like playing us. ‘‘They’re certainly a threat. I think we’re always the underdogs, being the smallest province in the zone, so I’m sure they’ll be pretty confident going into the weekend.

‘‘But we’re just as confident, I think.’’ Horrell commutes to play for North Otago from Christchurch, where he has nearly finished his first year teaching English at Christchurch Boys’ High School.