Stu Slack lives and breathes cricket.
The new Hawke Cup coach is excited to be extending his passion in North Otago for the 2021-2022 season, taking over the role from longstanding coach Pete Cartwright.
Slack, originally from Sydney, said he was was heavily invested in Oamaru and North Otago cricket, especially bringing the ‘‘younger crop’’ through for the future.
A 21-player North Otago squad has been named, including Waitaki Boys’ High School’s Liam Mavor, Alex Wilson and Quinn Wardle, and St Kevin’s College’s Lachlan Brookes, Liam Direen, Ben Kay and Anthony Docherty.
Many were involved in Otago under-19s, showing plenty of promise and Slack wanted them to know there was a future for them at the Hawke Cup level.
‘‘Ultimately just the blend of youth and experience we have this year is exciting — I’m really keen to see how we go,’’ Slack said.
Slack, who coached former Australian captain Steve Smith as a junior, has 30 years’ experience coaching and playing cricket, and also played at a representative level for Sydney’s Sutherland Sharks.
Three years ago, Slack moved to Oamaru with his wife, Tammy, who is ‘‘born-and-bred Oamaru’’, and their children, Ruby (13) and Joshua (11).
He joined Albion Cricket Club lst season as a top-order batsman and off-spin bowler, and is now president of the club.
But coaching is where he finds most of his enjoyment.
‘‘I get more of a thrill from seeing the players that I coach perform and succeed more than my own success. I love seeing people celebrate success and continue to develop as people and players — that’s what I love so much. I get attached pretty quickly.’’
He was ‘‘pleasantly surprised’’ by the standard and depth of North Otago cricket since he arrived.
‘‘We’ve got about seven teams in Oamaru which is huge for [the] population.’’
Hawke Cup training had been under way for the past three weeks in preparation for the first game on December 11-12 in Alexandra against Otago Country.
Slack said the team’s main goals were to win all home games, fielding and trying to reach the last year’s challenge stage.
‘‘That’s our big goal and make it difficult for the opposition to come and beat us.
‘‘If we field really well I think we can put a lot of pressure on the opposition.’’
The team plays a warm-up game next weekend against North Otago A, a development side, in Oamaru.