Bowler learning from ground up

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor

HB v Poverty Bay

Kirk Cup cricket

YOU COULD say Ben Stoyanoff didn't have a choice in assuming the mantle of coolest kid on the "block".

That's because the Napier Boys' High School pupil is the son of groundsman Phil Stoyanoff, who is is a world-class act when it comes to preparing the prime real estate on a cricket field each summer.

"I wouldn't say I'm a star but I got recognised and everyone wanted to know what sort of wicket it was," says the 17-year-old of his father, who not only religiously prepares the McLean Park and Nelson Park strips in Napier but has had the privilege of Indians booking him a flight to prepare wickets in Bangalore.

However, the senior Stoyanoff is also a former Wellington first-class bowler, so it doesn't come as much of a surprise that son Ben may be making his debut for the Pay Excellence Hawke's Bay senior men's team in their annual Kirk Cup match against Poverty Bay at Cornwall Park, Hastings, tomorrow.

Having won the Chapple Cup, the symbol of Central Districts supremacy in one-day cricket last month, the Lincoln Doull-coached Bay men will be without the services of a rash of CD Stags, although squad members Stevie Smidt (Napier Technical Old Boys) and Ajaz Patel (Taradale) are in the 12-member mix.

On the bright side, that CD exodus has opened the door for the likes of Stoyanoff to savour top level cricket in the Jacob Smith-captained side.

The right-arm pace bowler is a Bay and CD age-group cricketer who played three games for the Taradale Cricket Club's premier side last summer.

He took two wickets against Cornwall, six against Havelock North and none against Napier Technical Old Boys.

The tail-end batsman says his father taught him all the basics of bowling although last winter, former women's World Cup-winning coach Mike Shrimpton and CD's manager of amateur cricket, Scott Briasco, helped him refine those skills.

Ironically, the man who prepares international wickets taught Ben and younger brother, Jeremy, 14, an allrounder, the art of bowling on the concrete driveway of the family home in Taradale.

"It was more pitch length, I suppose, so we practised with dad on the driveway," says the NBHS First XI player who has amassed about 140 wickets for his school.

Stoyanoff was a little surprised to receive a call-up from Doull, not expecting to make the team so soon.

"It was great training on the grass with Bay men for two sessions," he says, not wanting to get too far ahead of himself in proclaiming Black Caps goals.

While he has played soccer in winter to come in trim into summer, cricket has always been his No1 sport and the Bay selection is just another step in time.

So will the junior Stoyanoff learn his father's trade?

"No, I definitely don't want to be a groundsman. It's a lot of hard work and it looks a bit tiring," he says with a laugh, adding he was unsure what he'll do after he finishes high school this year.

Ben Stoyanoff intends to take a gap year, find a job to earn some money and then decide what career path he wants to choose.

He started off pretty well yesterday, heading off to a barber in Greenmeadows for a haircut to not only look smart for the Kirk Cup match tomorrow but perhaps add a bit of aerodynamics to his run up to the bowling crease.

HB team (from): Jacob Smith (c), Bronson Meehan, Michael Taiaroa, Toby Doyle, James de Terte, Henry Hunter, Seb Langridge, Stevie Smidt, Ajaz Patal, Angus Schaw, Liam Rukuwai, Ben Stoyanoff. Coach: Lincoln Doull.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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