Ten years ago, the North Otago cricket team ended a 100-year drought, beating Manawatu to win the Hawke Cup. Oamaru Mail reporter Gus Patterson looks back on the big day in the region’s sporting history.
Like most of the region’s best sporting teams, North Otago’s 2010 Hawke Cup-winning side was made up of youth, experience and a few classy imports in the form of Otago Volts players Darren Broom, Sean Eathorne and captain Chris Smith.
But the path to a Hawke Cup challenge against Manawatu in Palmerston North in 2010 was not straightforward for New Zealand’s second-smallest cricketing region.
A first-innings win against Mid Canterbury was offset by an outright loss to Otago Country, a match in which North Otago was bowled out for 37 runs in one innings.
In the next two games, North Otago claimed first-innings points against Southland and South Canterbury, leaving Otago Country needing just one first-innings win in two games.
But it failed to do that, meaning North Otago travelled to Palmerston North for a shot at glory.
North Otago won the toss and elected to bat against Manawatu, but was immediately in trouble at 80 for six at lunch, and then 116 with one wicket remaining.
However, a crucial last-wicket partnership of 91 runs by Duncan Drew (102) and former Black Cap David Sewell (37 not out) took North Otago through to 207.
What looked to be an under-par score on a good batting wicket proved enough and North Otago bowled Manawatu out for 159.
Unless the home side won the game in the second innings, North Otago would claim the Hawke Cup.
Leading by 58 runs, North Otago still needed to post a good total, as Manawatu still had plenty of time to come back.
The visiting side rose to the occasion with a big second-innings total of 265 anchored by Broom’s 133.
In a twist of fate, Broom was due to play for the Otago Volts on the same day, but his brother, Neil, was released from Black Caps’ duties to take his spot in the Volts side, freeing Broom for North Otago.
A lead of 311 runs was too big to chase for Manawatu, which needed to score quickly before the end of the third and final day.
An inspired opening spell from Sewell resulted in three early wickets, and North Otago kept the pressure on, captain Chris Smith taking the final three wickets to have Manawatu all out for 151. That gave North Otago the win by 159 runs.
The team was greeted outside the council chambers by the Waitaki mayor when it arrived back in Oamaru and a celebratory function was held at the Oamaru Opera House.
In May, the Hawke Cup-winning side was named team of the year at the Otago Sports Awards, the first time a North Otago team had claimed the title.
WHAT THEY SAID
Chris Smith – Captain
“We had a mixed campaign, [but] we should also remember that we deserved to win. That group with the way we played our cricket – always very positive, risking defeat in order to win.
“[The Drew and Sewell partnership] was the single biggest turning point of the match. One of the best hundreds I have seen under pressure from Duncan, with superb support from Sewell.
“The last afternoon was simply sensational. Honestly, we couldn’t believe we had won it so well.
“It was a very tough game of cricket against very good opponents and so to be on the right side of the result, and lift the Hawke Cup alongside that team, was the best feeling I have ever had on a cricket field. Everyone in that team and wider squad contributed so much to that win.”
Pete Cartwright – Manager
“No-one really knew, up until that stage, much about the Hawke Cup.
“It was just something you got a challenge for once every 30 years and didn’t really know the history or the prestige of it.
“That team, in my opinion, opened some doors up to other teams. Post-2010 the ultimate goal was to win a Hawke Cup.
“It made it a more realistic goal, that group paved the way for future generation.”
Peter Cameron – North Otago Cricket chairman
“It was huge, and it was acknowledged by the town.
“It had taken 100 years to get there and it was pretty special. To even get a challenge was a big thing for North Otago at that stage.
“There were guys that contributed so much to North Otago that were involved in that team.”