Soccer: Young gun will attempt anything

By Anendra Singh

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Jayden Lennox Photo / Paul Taylor
Jayden Lennox Photo / Paul Taylor

SEAMER? No problem. Wicketkeeper? Bring it on, mate. Spinner? Okay, will give it a shot. Twelfth man or last-minute withdrawal? Oh, what the heck.

It's enough to make any cricketer pull his hair out - but not Jayden Lennox.

The Complete Flooring Napier Technical Old Boys allrounder gave it a thought each time but didn't flinch when his age-group coaches asked him to perform the myriad roles over the years.

"Whatever they [coaches] asked me to do, I did it. I took everything in my stride," says the 18-year-old former Napier Boys' High School pupil who returned from a stint in England with Harvington Cricket Club in Worcestershire.

It's that sort of resilience which earned Lennox a debut opportunity in the Property Brokers Hawke's Bay senior men's representative team this week but ... wait for it ... coach Lincoln Doull phoned him yesterday morning to break the news that Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags spinner Ajaz Patel is back from the Plunket Shield match which finished in Hamilton on Thursday.

Debut's on hold.

"That's fine. That's what's good for the team. They need a more experienced player like Ajaz because it's quite a big game," says the teenager who will be back in the Tech line up for the 45-over premier men's match against The Station Napier Old Boys' Marist tomorrow.

Bay host Manawatu at Nelson Park, Napier, from today in the bid to earn the right to challenge for the Hawke Cup, the national symbol of minor association cricket supremacy.

It is fair to say this is one of the two crucial matches for both sides, as well as Taranaki, locked on 10 points after one round of play in the zone elimination matches.

"It'll be a good opportunity to play to the top standard so hopefully I'll develop my game more when I make my debut." orthodox left-arm spinner Lennox says.

He was 10 when he picked up a ball as a Napier Intermediate pupil in summer to become a new-ball seamer for the Tech Under-12s side.

With a dearth of wicketkeepers, a coach asked him to slip on the gloves behind the stumps so he obliged.

But a few years later came a request from coach Rob Quinn, like a tweaked delivery catching the wicketkeeper on the hop.

"I was enjoying wicketkeeping when he randomly decided we needed a spin bowler, specifically a left-arm one for the under-15s."

Lennox took a few wickets in his first season but more and more followed as his confidence grew.

His parents, Everlyn and Richard Lennox, noticed the changes but backed the youngster who enjoys watching Pakistan tweaker Saeed Ajmal refine his trade.

"I love his [Ajmal's] control of the ball."

Lennox lauds former Bay age-group coach Mike Lewis, of Waipukurau, for his all-round help.

So far this summer, Lennox has about a dozen premier men's scalps with his best figures of 3-18 against NOBM in the English style 55-over match.

The adroit allrounder was unbeaten on 95 against Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall a fortnight ago as Tech opener.

Lennox was equally successful in Worcestershire, bagging 71 wickets and scoring 480 runs at No 4.

He aimed to broaden his horizon in a different environment, becoming wiser on the behaviour of a Duke ball compared with the Kookaburra one here.

His verdict: "It [the Duke] is harder and its seam is wider but the Kookaburra is better because it stays harder longer," he reveals, hoping to play in England again next New Zealand winter.

It wasn't all about cricket, though. His first overseas trip taught him some life experiences.

Breaking from tradition to name his players on Tuesday, Doull says it takes pressure of his boys although the selectors' line up was "pretty settled" with Patel the only late change.

"The other Stags have declined the option to play or have been asked to rest because they are so tired and they have a game starting on Wednesday.

The Heinrich Malan-coached CD lost by seven wickets with a day to play against the Northern Districts Knights on Thursday with a day to spare. They travel to Eden Park 2 to play the Auckland Aces next.

In the other change in the Bay team, NOBM player/coach Mathew Sinclair comes into the equation with Sharpies Golfing Range Taradale CC skipper Toby Doyle the unlucky one despite scoring 17 not out in the first-round victory over Wairarapa in Masterton.

"Skip [Sinclair] bolsters our experience but, in saying that, all the other guys did the job in our last win," Doull says. "Someone was always going to miss out at some point with Skip's return and it was, unfortunately, Toby," says the man who has coached the Bay to retaining the Chapple Cup (one-day).

The Michael Mason-coached Manawatu will be without veteran Jacob Oram, a late CD call up, in their line up but Doull says the Bay have always held their arch rivals from the other side of the Gorge in high regard.

"They are a strong batting and bowling side. Michael Mason will be back, too, as he still likes a challenge," Doull says of the former Black Caps and CD seamer.

But Mason isn't in the playing line up although captain Luke Murray and injured seamer Bevan Small return.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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