The old saying ‘‘practice makes perfect’’ certainly rings true for Amal Ashok.
The Iona Home care worker spends every spare minute he has working on his cricket game.
‘‘I’m working hard. Even if I’m getting a 20 minute, half an hour break, I go to the nets and do some batting or bowling drills every day,’’ Ashok said.
The Albion batsman burst on to the Hawke Cup scene this season, scoring a century in his debut against Otago Country, the opening match of the season.
‘‘I never thought I would get a chance to play. It was a brilliant start for me, and the season.’’
Before the game, few people had heard of Ashok (24), who only moved to Oamaru eight months ago, and joined the Albion Cricket Club.
Originally from South Kerala, in India, Ashok played under›16 cricket for Kerala and was a full-time cricketer. He moved to New Zealand in 2019, studied logistics, and joined the Marist Harewood Cricket Club in Christchurch.
After finishing his studies, Ashok saw a job advertised at Iona and moved to Oamaru, and has been dominating the club cricket scene since then.
He finished as the top batsman for the Dick Hunt competition, with 242 runs, and sits second in the Borton Cup competition at present, with 247 runs, and a high score of 130 not out.
Albion had been a great club — ‘‘it’s fun, I love playing with them always’’ — and it was where he first met Hawke Cup coach and fellow Albion player, Stu Slack.
Slack gave Ashok his first opportunity for North Otago and Ashok said playing under Slack’s relaxed approach helped make him a better cricketer.
‘‘When I was playing in India there’s all this pressure from the coaching team for selection, but playing under Stu . . . it gives me freedom to play my natural game.
‘‘It’s no pressure which is cool.’’
North Otago’s match against Southland two weeks ago was abandoned due to rain, yet again, in Oamaru. Now, North Otago sits on 17 points, behind Southland and Otago Country.
North Otago is scheduled to play Mid Canterbury, in Ashburton, this weekend. However, due to a growing number of community cases of Covid›19 in Mid Canterbury, the game could possibly be rescheduled to later in the year.
A decision on whether the game would go ahead had not been made when the Oamaru Mailwent to print.
The Zone 4 Hawke Cup Challenge has already been postponed until later this year. If this weekend’s cricket goes ahead, North Otago needs an outright win, and Southland to take no points, in order to get a Hawke Cup challenge
The team knew what was required, Ashok said.
‘‘Nothing less than a win.’’