Hawkes Bay swoops to conquer


History will have to wait for another season.
The 2015-16 North Otago cricket team was desperate to become the first from the province to win AND defend the Hawke Cup, but it all came crashing down at Milner Park on Saturday.
Hawkes Bay recovered from a shaky start to romp to victory by 152 runs after dismissing North Otago for just 93 in its second innings.
It was a deflating end to a wonderful season in which North Otago proved to be the class act of the South Island but could not handle the best of the North.
Penguins manager Hamish McMurdo was feeling “hollow and gutted” as he realised the cup had gone.
“I guess we were all a little stunned on Saturday night,” McMurdo said.
“We played our worst three sessions in two years, all in one day, and we paid dearly for it. That was sad and disappointing.
“I was upset for the boys because I thought we’d fought to get into a position in the game where we could actually be quite dominant. But that only lasted a moment or two.
“We just got over-powered. That wasn’t the plan at all. But the reality is Hawkes Bay played very well.
North Otago had rolled Hawkes Bay _ which scored 621 in a game earlier this summer _ for 122 on the opening day, before eking out a first-innings lead of three.
Two quick Bay wickets on Friday night raised hopes of a successful weekend but they were dashed when the visiting side rallied through Jacob Smith (79) and added 66 for the 10th wicket to set a chase of 246.
That was always going to be demanding for a depleted North Otago batting line-up, and the end came regrettably quickly.
While the sour taste of defeat will linger, McMurdo will reflect with pride on an extraordinary summer.
“I think, statistically, it was the best North Otago season ever. We were really dominant right through the Hawke Cup campaign up until Saturday. That is particularly pleasing.
“It didn’t just happen in a six-week campaign _ it took three years to get to this point.”McMurdo said the team was delighted with the support it had received from North Otago people.
The fans were out in force at Milner Park, particularly on Friday, and were treated to another fizzing display from the golden one.
Fast bowler Francois Mostert took eight wickets to extend his record to a scarcely-believable 56 for the season.
“Francois is just a class act, really,” McMurdo said.
“He’s just right on top of his game. “He’s the guy we go to when we need something special to happen. He’s been truly outstanding.
“It surely won’t be too long before we’re without his services. Someone must pick him up. He’s just too good.”The team would now have a robust review of the season and meetings with each player, McMurdo said.
He was not aware of any player who was definitely not going to be available next summer.
One extremely useful addition could be Otago bowler Craig Smith, the St Kevin’s College old boy who has taken a teaching role at his old school.

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