WBHS favourite to topple Valley


In cricket terms, it has been a LONG time between drinks.
Waitaki Boys’ has not had its name etched on the Borton Cup since 1967-68, when the school had twice as many pupils and two runs an over was considered a solid rate.
Generations of Waitakians have been accustomed to being competitive at club level but never quite having the talent or the nous to go all the way against senior teams _ but this year’s First XI has a different feel about it.
It helps, of course, that the team is led by the sublime fast bowling talent of Nathan Smith, the New Zealand Under-19 star, and can also call on professional Stephan Grobler, the leading Borton Cup run-scorer this summer.
But there is plenty of other talent, especially with the ball. Josh Hayward has 20 wickets at an average of 10.85 and Hayden Creedy has 15 at 13.87, brothers Blake and Mason James have made great strides, and Dallas Mahuika and Jonty Naylor can make vital contributions.
“All season, we’ve bowled first and we’ve chased,” Smith told the Oamaru Mail.
“Our bowling has really restricted teams. Then we’ve normally had a couple of people do something good with the bat.”The schoolboys were delighted to receive a message of support from Jordan Horrell, the former head boy who captained North Otago to Hawke Cup glory this season.
“He told us it is a pretty big deal to reach the final,” Smith said.
“We’ve had a very good season so far and it’s been great to see so many of the boys performing well.”Waitaki Boys’, which won seven of its eight round robin games, reached the final with a five-wicket win over defending champion Albion in the semifinal. Smith took six for 26 as Albion was dismissed for 91, and added an unbeaten 32 with the bat.
It has been a busy period for the First XI. It recently played the Willows club in Canterbury, and took first-innings honours against King’s High School in a traditional interschool this week. Smith took six wickets in the first innings.
VALLEYIt is just as well Valley is not a one-man team.
The Weston club has fielded North Otago’s best player, fast bowler Francois Mostert, in recent seasons, and the difference between a team with Mostert and a team without Mostert was exposed last year when Valley won the minor premiership but was beaten in the semifinals without its super Springbok.
Mostert will again be missing this weekend as he was unable to reschedule his travel plans. But if you judge a side on its most recent game, Valley is not solely reliant on the man who took a scarcely-believable 56 wickets for North Otago this summer.
Valley qualified for the final with a 67-run win over perennial finalist Union at King George Park _ and Mostert did not take a wicket. Geoff Mavor took four and Reuben Simpson three, and Richard Witham (73) led the way with the bat in a good total of 231.
“Francois has obviously been a big part of what we do,” long-serving all-rounder Hamish McKenzie said.
“But the other guys have all been stepping up. We’ve battled for runs at times but it was great to see some guys in the top order get runs in the semifinal.”Valley has not won the Borton Cup since 2006-07, but banked the Dick Hunt Trophy after winning the holiday competition earlier this year.
The club won just three of its eight round robin games so will head into the final as the underdog.
“Yeah, we will, if for no other reason than Waitaki has had a good year,” McKenzie said.
“They’re the top qualifiers, and they’ve only lost one game all season. So you might say the pressure is on them.”
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