HE ONLY got here from England a day ago so the winds buffeting Hawke's Bay would have caused a degree of turbulence when his flight touched down at Hawke's Bay airport in Napier.
Little did Matt Taylor know what lay ahead yesterday when his Napier Technical Old Boys' skipper George Diack chucked him the ball for his first bowl in the 16th over against Taradale Cricket Club in the annual Hawke's Bay Twenty/20 cricket competition.
Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags skipper Kieran Noema-Barnett was at the crease with Dale needing 52 off 24 balls to beat Tech in the opening round of matches at a pelter of a pitch in Nelson Park, Napier.
"Cyclone Barney" ripped through the left-arm medium pacer from Gloucester Academy - here to hone his skills at the Brendon Bracewell Academy - racking 27 runs as he spearheaded the tourney favourites to a six-wicket victory.
Taylor, who arrived here with the blessing of former New Zealand coach John Bracewell, shouldn't be disheartened as Dale overhauled Tech's 153-6 by a run with a ball to spare with six wickets intact.
"It was a bit of an eye opener for Matt who had just come in off the plane yesterday [Thursday]," Diack said, adding he had mentioned to the talented teenager not to take it too hard because Noema-Barnett has the record for the fastest half century in domestic cricket in New Zealand.
Tech thought they had the game in the bag with 10 overs remaining after taking the prized scalp of Black Caps allrounder Doug Bracewell for a duck.
"We had Dougie early and they were two down for bugger all but they had two of them and then Barney batted really well."
Tech's Liam Rukuwai had a chance to take Noema-Barnett's wicket at cow's corner when the batsman was only in the 30s but the fielder caught the ball and stepped over the rope.
"Barney hadn't even taken off but we knew all along the freight train was coming."
Earlier, another English cricketer from the Bracewell Academy, Christian Purchass, bolstered the Tech innings with 44 runs off 32 balls with Bronson Meehan adding 20 from 27 balls and Diack 21 from 11 balls.
"Christian showed us and a few other people how to hit the ball over the boundary so he's a pretty strong boy," Diack said, applauding head groundsman Phil Stoyanoff for producing a "shiner".
An unostentatious Noema-Barnett, who scored 93 runs off 61 balls, said: "It was a little bit of luck. I had to make sure I was in there to put us in a good position to win, I guess."
He said the wicket was fantastic, saying he would be surprised to find any in other parts of the country this time of the year.
Bracing himself for his first stint as Stags captain this summer, Noema-Barnett lauded Napier Boys' High School pupil Ben Stoyanoff for claiming 2-22 off four overs.
Inaugural defending champions Karori Cricket Club from Wellington remain the unknown quantity but will start play today.
In the other game at the adjacent pitch at Nelson Park, Havelock North upset last year's runners-up Cornwall Cricket Club by a run.
The villagers posted what seemed to be a paltry total of 121-8 in 20 overs with CD rep Ben Wheeler scoring 43 runs and Graeme Tyron adding 23.
Ben Jackett was the pick of Cornwall bowlers, claiming 3-19 from his four allotted overs while new skipper, Jacob Smith, took 2-16 off three overs.
In reply, Cornwall could only manage 120-9 in 20 overs with Stags allrounder Carl Cachopa top scoring with 38 runs at No 3 and Bay rep Michael Taiaroa adding 22 at No 4.
Kurt Richards took 2-11 off 4 overs while coach/captain Todd Astill had 2-21 of as many overs.
"We just came out to play good cricket because it's the weekend before the real cricket starts so we wanted to get some people out there in the middle," Astill said.
"It is always nice to step out on the field and win so we were pretty confident of winning."
Astill said their Havelock's total was pretty mediocre but saluted Wheeler for his batting prowess and also his frugality although he took only one wicket.
With Hutt City pulling out Havelock play Central Hawke's Bay at 1pm and Onslow at 4pm today in their group before the semifinals.
With Henry Hunter leaving the villagers for CHB "for a good reason", Astill expected a humdinger of a match between the sides.
"I played for them a couple of years ago and Jared Priest did, too so we've had some good battles with CHB."
At Ongaonga Domain, CHB claimed a four-wicket victory over Onslow Cricket Club, of Wellington.The visitors were 107 all out in 20 overs with Toby Richardson claiming 3-17 off 4 overs and English professional import 1-10 off 4.
In reply CHB got 108-6 in 18 overs with No 6 James mackie 36 not out and Hindmarsh unbeaten on 32 at No 5 at a revamped park with new sight screens.