North Otago’s best young players performed with credit at the annual South Island primary schools tournament in Timaru last week.
After an intense week of action at the popular tournament, North Otago finished with three draws – all of which could have gone North Otago’s way – and two losses on the first innings.
A handful of local cricketers also ended up on various top-10 charts.
Aaron Maxwell (146 runs) was the fifth-highest scorer across all teams and Lachlan Brookes (123) was 10th, Jack Cameron (seventh) and Liam Direen (ninth) were among the leading wicket-takers, and Eli Johnson (fourth) was among the leading catchers.
After opening with good efforts in draws with Nelson and Invercargill Metro, North Otago faced the tough challenge of powerhouses Dunedin Metro and Christchurch Red in consecutive days.
Against Dunedin, North Otago was dismissed for 92, falling away after a promising start from Maxwell and Brookes, each of whom scored 18.
Direen then had an excellent spell of three for 16 off five overs as Dunedin rattled on a brisk 110 for four before declaring.
The city boys were eager to roll North Otago quickly in its second innings to chase an outright win, but were foiled by Brookes, who played a starring role with 43 off 97 balls, while No 11 batsman Harry Murphy ground out an unbeaten 11 off 30 balls as North Otago made 86.
A day later, North Otago batted solidly to reach 104 off 52.3 overs against Christchurch Red in Pleasant Point.
Quinn Wardle showed classic opening batting ticker to graft for his 25 off 96 balls, supported by Direen (20 off 60) and Jack Cameron (14 off 35).
Christchurch showed its batting depth with 258 for nine in reply. Liam Mavor grabbed a four-wicket bag for North Otago and Campbell Fowler took two wickets, while Johnson snared four catches.
At the end of a long week for the youngsters, North Otago produced more good cricket against Otago Country back in Timaru.
Direen (three for 21), Jacob Fowler (two for 15) and Cameron (two for 22) were the pick of the bowlers as Otago Country was dismissed for 152.
Brookes (35), Murphy (32 not out) and Maxwell (28) all made contributions as North Otago staged a valiant chase for first-innings points before just running out of time, finishing on 143 for seven.
North Otago coach Stefan Mavor was delighted with the efforts of the team over the week.
“They did very well. And the really pleasing thing was that every player did something during the week – they all chipped in.
“Some of the boys actually surprised me. They did really, really well, especially with the bat.”
Mavor said seven of the North Otago players would be eligible for selection again next year.