Cricket: Future stars repeat NZ Cup win

On the same day that the Black Caps beat Sri Lanka, with three old boys of the school in Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell and Daniel Flynn making significant contributions, Tauranga Intermediate's best cricketers went to Palmerston North and won the New Zealand Cup for the second straight year.

They became the first school to achieve the feat of defending the pinnacle of intermediate schools' cricket in the Twenty20 format of the game.

The New Zealand Cup, which started life as the Milo Cup, is competed for by four regional winners from throughout the country.

Coached by Aubrey Jeftha and Northern Districts allrounder Brett Hampton, Tauranga have fashioned an outstanding record with just one loss in two years of the competition.

Jeftha has been in charge of the team for seven years and says the boys are well aware of their famous old boys who are major role models for every cricketer at the school.

"The boys certainly know about them because at practice (principal) Mr Diver tells the boys that one day he wants to read about them making the Black Caps like Flynny, Boulty and Dougie," said Jeftha.

"He tells them how they practiced in the very same nets when they were the same age."

Jeftha admits he was not overly confident of defending the title at the start of the season.

"We lacked some skills and self-belief at the start but they grew throughout the season to become stronger and more focused.

"We did put in a lot effort in our fielding. We pride ourselves on our fielding and our bowling, and we spent many hours on that. That was the key factor in the end in us winning."

Jeftha had special praise for Mitchell White, who did not get to bat or bowl but made a significant impact in the field.

"He was exceptional in the field and I would say he was our outstanding fielder."

Captain Mikaere Leef, Oakley Dench, Taylor Kite and David Rout stood out for Tauranga at the finals.

"Mikaere is a very technical player, good off the front foot, and he set the example as captain for the rest of the boys to follow," said Jeftha.

"Oakley got MVP for the tournament and is a quiet achiever. Our practice sessions worked with him as a line and length bowler.

"He can put it on a pin all day long, he is hard to play and really consistent.

"Taylor was our go-to man at all the tournaments building up to this national championship, the fellow who saw us through in panic situations, while David is similar to Oakley as a consistent length bowler."

Leef, whose favourite player is Kane Williamson, played in last year's winning team but rates this year's achievement higher.

"I have been lucky enough to win it twice and this is better than last year because I got to captain the boys. It has been great fun along the way as well.

"I think last year's team was more consistent with the bat but our bowling and fielding were just exceptional in most games and that's basically why we won it."

MVP Dench says he was surprised to win the award but is proud to have done so for the whole team.

"I wasn't expecting it but it is a pretty good feeling as there were about 50-odd boys there. It was a team effort in the end and we all did really well."

Dench looks to Boult and Bracewell for inspiration.

"They are both awesome bowlers and I try to do what they do and get to seam the ball.

"My dad always gets me to watch TV when they are bowling. Before the New Zealand Cup, we all thought a lot about those big guys and what we could be, so we worked really hard in the nets."

All the games won in Palmerston North were reasonably tight and certainly Tauranga had to battle hard for every win.

In the opening game against John McGlashan College, Tauranga won the toss and decided to field. A brisk start by the Dunedin school's openers was halted by Leef's 2/24, followed by four superb overs from Dench, who took 2/9. David Rout snaffled three wickets in one over to wrap up the innings at 124/7.

Tauranga's openers came and went early, but good knocks of 20 by Rout and Kite edged the score along.

The final partnership between Craig Baldry and Oliver Norris, who finished 38 not out, took Tauranga to a comfortable victory by seven wickets.

In the afternoon match, Tauranga struggled against a concentrated bowling attack from Hutt International Boys School and lost two early wickets. But a superb innings of 57 from Leef, with outstanding support again from Kite (49no), took Tauranga through to 129/3.

In reply the Hutt team got off to a flyer, before Dench again bowled superb line and length to take 4/16 and help bowl Hutt out for 105.

Tauranga finished the tournament with an unbeaten record after they defeated Christchurch's Medbury Intermediate in their final game. Batting first, Tauranga struggled against a good bowling attack, before Marcel Collet (38) and Kite (25) restored some respectability to the innings. Kata Brill and Baldry then took the score through to a defendable 113/5.

The Medbury response began with an attacking flourish, as they smashed 33 runs off the opening four overs, before the outstanding duo of Kite (3/16) and Leef (2/14) slowed the run rate and then took control.

Medbury got close to Tauranga's total but in the end were restricted to 96/6 and Tauranga had their second successive New Zealand Cup title.

Jeftha and manager Darrell Leef have already discussed how they will make it a three-peat of victories next year.

"We are already thinking about it and we have three Year 7 boys back," said Jeftha.


New Zealand Cup National Finals

John McGlashan College 124/7 (David Rout 3/22, Oakley Dench 2/7, Mikaere Leef 2/24) lost to Tauranga Intermediate 125/3 (Oliver Norris 38no, David Rout 20, Taylor Kite 20)

Tauranga Intermediate 129/3 (Mikaere Leef 57, Taylor Kite 49no) defeated Hutt International Boys School 105 (Oakley Dench 4/16)

Tauranga Intermediate 113/5 (Marcel Collett 38, Taylor Kite 25) defeated Medley Intermediate 96/6 (Taylor Kite 3/16, Mikaere Leef 2/14)

- Bay of Plenty Times

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