The top four have been decided. Kayla Hodge catches up with representatives from the Oamaru, Union, Valley and St Kevin’s College cricket teams ahead of tomorrow’s Borton Cup semifinals.
Oamaru sealed the minor premiership — but can it go all the way?
Robbie Breen certainly hopes so. The Oamaru captain is rapt his team secured the minor premiership and the D.G Sewell Shield this season, but it was not the end goal and the real challenge, for the Borton Cup, lay ahead.
Oamaru faces Valley tomorrow. It has only been two weeks since their last clash, which Oamaru won by one wicket, and Breen said the Weston club had a classy line-up, with ‘‘big bats’’ for Oamaru to shut down.
Oamaru would need to apply pressure — ‘‘drying up their runs will be everything’’ — and start well, as it had done all season.
‘‘Sabareesh [Rameesh] and Nick [Johnston] have done a huge job for us opening the batting and the other guys have just chimed in,’’ Breen said.
Lakshay Raj Siwach has taken 14 wickets this season, as has Oamaru powerhouse Stephan Grobler, who has also been handy with the bat, making 255 runs this season.
Grobler was always the first to put his hand up and dig Oamaru out of a hole.
‘‘One of Stephan’s biggest strength is [his] ultra team-first mentality. He’s just the ultimate team man to have.’’
Reigning champion Union needs to treat tomorrow’s semifinal against St Kevin’s College like any other game, captain Thomas Shields says.
St Kevin’s has some good experience for a school side, but Union is one of the most experienced teams in the competition.
Union was the only club to make the play-offs every year for the past 15 years, and would use that experience to its advantage and help the younger players settle in, Shields said.
‘‘Hopefully we can call on that experience to make the right calls when the time comes and get over the line when we need to,’’ he said. ‘‘Hopefully we can just come out on the right side of the ledger.’’
Shields and his brother Jeremiah are in the top five for Borton Cup batting statistics this season, while wicketkeeper Kane McLauchlan, the competition’s top fielder, has been solid with the gloves, taking 12 catches.
But it had been a ‘‘funny old season’’ as weather forced five matches to be abandoned, spoiling most teams’ chances of getting a ‘‘roll on’’.
‘‘I guess what’s worked is just getting those wins early on in the season and just carrying on through to the semis.’’
ST KEVIN’S COLLEGE
After getting the ‘‘monkey off the back’’, St Kevin’s College is looking to get another win tomorrow.
Two weeks ago, St Kevin’s beat Union at King George Park for the first time in 27 years. Player-coach Craig Smith said his team took confidence from that win, ahead of tomorrow’s rematch, but the pressure at semifinals time made it a whole new game.
Union will be ‘‘as hard-nosed as ever’’ and setting a good total and forming partnerships will be key for St Kevin’s.
While St Kevin’s was ‘‘fairly inexperienced’’ in terms of cricketing years, the secondary school team beat top-of-the table Oamaru this season.
Smith leads the Borton Cup batting statistics, on 324 this season, and bowler Ben Kay had also been outstanding, leading with 15 wickets including two five-wicket bags.
Kay and Liam Direen have both been involved in Otago Cricket squads this season and have brought their new skills back to the school side.
‘‘They’ve very coachable young chaps so they soak it all in. It’s great to see their development. They’ve come such a long way even just from the start of the season.’’
Valley makes a welcome return to the Borton Cup semifinals this season.
It has been ‘‘a long time between drinks’’ for the country club, which has not won the Borton Cup since the 2006-07 season and has been the beaten finalist four times since.
Captain Shanon Dunnett said the players were not getting ahead of themselves, focusing on the first ‘‘hurdle’’ against Oamaru tomorrow.
Playing Oamaru is always a big task, but Valley has produced some great form at the end of the season, stringing together full-team performances.
‘‘It’s a bit cliche but it’s certainly worked the last two weeks,’’ Dunnett said.
Hawke Cup captain Lachie Kingan has been massive this season, scoring 149 runs and taking 12 wickets. Cameron Grubb has made a handy contribution with eight wickets, and Jack Price has been good under the ball, taking five catches.
It had been a well rounded year so far for Valley, Dunnett said.
‘‘It’s just having people step up throughout the year at different times throughout the year, not just the same one or two people. Everyone throughout the year has been able to contribute and that hopefully will continue.’’