It’s playoff time – Borton Cup semifinals get under way tomorrow. Kayla Hodge takes a look at the top four teams.
Union has set the benchmark all season.
The top-seeded side comes into the finals in the top spot on the back of eight wins, and only the one loss.
That loss came in the first round of the competition in October, and Union has been unstoppable ever since.
Thomas Shields had an outrageous innings early in the season, finishing not out on 204 and becoming the first Union player to reach a double ton.
Duncan Drew has also been a solid perfomer, putting in a good innings last weekend when making 120 runs to grab his 10th ton – a club record.
Bowler Blake James has had a good season with the ball, picking up 16 wickets for his side.
Captain Jeremiah Shields said he expected a tough game of cricket when the side hosted Oamaru at King George Park tomorrow for a spot in the final.
“We have a lot of experience and I think we’ve got a well balanced side especially leading into this weekend, and I think those are two pretty key areas when it comes to cricket,” Shields said.
ST KEVIN’S COLLEGE
St Kevin’s College’s bowling attack will be vital tomorrow.
It has been the key strength of the secondary school side all season, and Lachie Brookes has been the star, taking 20 wickets this season.
“[Lachie has] picked up a couple of five-wicket bags. He’s just someone we can rely on to have that consistency with the ball,” player-coach Craig Smith said.
“We’ve always backed our bowling.”
The team’s batting form was improving, and Liam Direen had come a long way since the start of the season, heading into this weekend’s match with 303 runs to his name. That total was boosted by a fantastic performance against Glenavy at the end of last year, Direen finishing not out on 113.
“He’s probably learned a bit more about how you got about building an innings. He’s certainly one of the guys we rely on at the top of the order,” Smith said.
Smith expected a big game against Waitaki Boys’ tomorrow. The teams had played each other twice this season – in a club and a school match – and had each recorded a win.
“They’re always tight affairs. Also with the added pressure of it being a semifinal as well, that’ll probably make things a little bit more interesting.”
It will be a good old-fashioned school derby when Waitaki Boys’ High School takes to the pitch tomorrow.
The side will face St Kevin’s College and player-coach Ben Donkers said it would be a big match.
“It’s the nature of any schoolboy match. They’re probably going to get up for it more than most,” Donkers said.
He expected a hard and fast wicket with a bit of bounce at St Kevin’s College, which should benefit the Waitaki Boys’ bowlers.
“I think with our bowling attack that’ll be advantageous for us, and I think we’ll look to bowl them out in both innings regardless.
“We’re traditionally batted first and our success has come in defending those totals. I think that’s indicative of the strength of our bowling attack.”
All-rounder Quinn Wardle has been in standout form this season, making 303 runs and taking 15 wickets.
“He’s pretty key all round for us, with that off-spin as well. Most often if he doesn’t go well with the bat, he’s going pretty well with the ball and picks up quite a few wickets for us.”
Donkers will not take to the field tomorrow, due to family commitments, and that provided extra motivation for the side to get the job done.
“There’s more incentive for these boys to stand up in the situation and in the heat of moment.”
“We’ve won the competition from fourth before and we’re keen as beans to do it again.”
That is the mindset of Oamaru captain Robbie Breen as his team prepares to take on top-of-the-table Union tomorrow.
Oamaru has come into the finals in fourth place, but anything is possible with the calibre of the team’s bowling – three Oamaru players sit in the top six of the competition’s bowling statistics.
Stephan Grobler takes the top spot with 21 wickets, Lakshay Raj Siwach is at No3 with 19 wickets, and Harvinder Sandhu is No6 with 16 wickets.
“Our bowling attack is pretty well balanced. Stephan’s record speaks for itself,” Breen said.
“He’s our big dog and when he does well, we tend to do well.”
Oamaru would be looking to get into the match early and take it to Union.
“She’ll be a bit of a measuring contest – that pitch up there produces a lot of runs. It’s a pokey old ground with some short boundaries.
“If we can muck in and we’re up for the fight, anything can happen.”