Oamaru Cricket Club centurion’s ‘foundation’

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Robbie Breen has long been a character of cricket in North Otago.

When Breen (32) pulls on the blue for his beloved Oamaru Cricket Club tomorrow, he will bring up his 100th match for the club.

‘‘It’s very special, it’s very cool. It’s been a long time between my first and my 100th game,’’ Breen said.

Breen made his debut for Oamaru in 2003, as a Waitaki Boys’ High School pupil, when he received the call from Ben Coleman to help out.

Technically, however, Breen’s first experience with the club was five years earlier, when his St Joseph’s School principal, Murray Munro, who was running Oamaru’s second grade side, pulled Breen, his twin brother Peter, and older brother Sam, in to play for the seconds in 1998.

‘‘From that point forward, the people that have been involved in the club have always been very cool people . . .and turned into lifelong friends.’’

After heading away to university, and ‘‘life happens’’, Breen returned to the club fulltime in 2016 and took over as captain the following year.

The bowler had helped dig Oamaru out of some holes over the years, but surprisingly his biggest achievements have been with the bat. Three years ago against Union, Breen smacked a six off the second-last ball to win the match for his side.

‘‘As a professional No 11 that will be the coolest thing I ever do in cricket,’’ he laughed.

Then came a game against Waitaki Boys’ in which Oamaru had players away, and Breen, usually a ‘‘big believer’’ in people staying where they are supposed to, volunteered to bat at No 3.

It turned out to be a disaster as he got himself run out, but he was ‘‘fired up’’ to take six wickets for one in nine overs with the ball.

For Breen, who works as a production manager at Oceania Dairy, his proudest moments have come from the club itself. Winning his first Borton Cup in 2018 — Oamaru’s first in 10 years — was ‘‘incredibly special’’, as was the club backing it up the following year.

It was a massive turnaround from when Breen returned to the club in 2016 and it was struggling for numbers. This year, the club boasted two team’s in the Dick Hunt competition, which was an incredible achievement, he said.

The Oamaru Cricket Club had taught him a lot about the game — ‘‘it’s the foundation of everything I know now’’ — and the contacts made through club cricket kept it fun.

‘‘There’s lawyers, builders, teachers, real estate agents, factory workers, and they’re all people that you somehow become very, very close friends with and that’s one of the most special and magic things about hanging out with this group of guys every Saturday,’’ he said.

He declared this season would be his last as captain, but he would keep playing as long as he was still having fun.

‘‘You never stop learning about cricket and that’s what makes it so much fun,’’ he said.

‘‘Cricket always has been and always will be my life love — and I love playing.’’