QUESTION: "So what team were you playing against, mate?"
"I don't know ... hang on, I'll ask one of my teammates here," Damon Morgan replied yesterday during a cellphone interview from Flaxmere Park, Hastings, while his cricket team were batting against Taranaki.
"What grade are you playing in then?"
Morgan: "Umm ... look I don't know those sorts of things but let me check that again quickly."
While the 13-year-old Rotorua team cricketer at the annual Riverbend Cricket Camp in Hastings might have been bereft of ideas when it came to the journalistic ritual of asking stock questions, he certainly didn't need help with his stellar bowling effort on Monday for his year 8 age-group provincial outfit.
Morgan claimed a hat-trick of wickets - in fact, it was a three-wicket maiden - which came in his first over during the nail-biting nine-run victory over Cornwall Cricket Club, of Hastings, in their Twenty20 match.
The visitors were 72 all out in their allotted 20 overs but were feeling the heat as Cornwall approached the target.
However, Morgan's blitz helped turn the game around as they skittled Cornwall for 63 with an over to spare.
The John Paul College pupil, who will be a third former this year, came in as the third-change bowler after his predecessors didn't find much joy at the Frimley Park wicket in Hastings.
The right-arm medium pacer's over read: wicket, wicket, wicket, dot, dot, dot.
It was his second hat-trick in three years of playing school and age-group representative cricket in Rotorua.
His other hat-trick came in the summer of 2010-11 during a Twenty20 affair in a school competition.
In his third year at the camp, Morgan is easy to distinguish on the park.
He is the bloke wearing a beanie in the stifling Bay sun when he's playing.
"I've got a lot of brown curly hair, so the hat keeps it from getting into my eyes," he said with a laugh, adding he bought the woolly hat for $1 three years ago when he was to play a soccer match in Papamoa, near Tauranga.
He doesn't wear the beanie while batting, using the helmet to pin his locks, as a tailender.
No11 yesterday in Rotorua's three-wicket victory over Taranaki, Morgan said he lacked confidence in batting but could prove useful at times.
"I can bat from No7 to No11 and I can be hard to get out but I do have my share of off days."
Asked if he felt lucky on Monday morning, Morgan replied: "I was thinking in the morning I had better play good and try my best to help my team out." That was after the John Nieuwoudt-coached team lost their opening 40-over match to Havelock North at Flaxmere Park on Sunday.
South African-born Nieuwoudt, whose surname Morgan can be excused for grappling with spelling, said the youngster had an awkward bowling action that batsmen often struggled to pick.
"His right and left are going together but all he's doing is taking a short step with a right-hand action," he said.
Yesterday, Rotorua chased down Taranaki's 159 runs in the 48th over of the 50-over encounter.
Morgan, in his third camp tourney, started with a maiden over on the artificial wicket, then went for two runs in the second over, three runs in the third and four in his last (spooky possums?).
Asked what went right on Monday, Morgan replied: "I was bowling consistently to the right line and length ... where it's hard to play a shot."
Yesterday, Rotorua opening right-hand batsman Adam Scheiwzeir scored an unbeaten 70 runs to provide the platform for the victory against Taranaki.
"I'm very proud of my boys because after our first loss, they turned the tournament around with the help of Damon's hat-trick," said Nieuwoudt, whose side play Napier Technical Old Boys at Park Island, Napier, today.
For the record, Morgan's first two wickets in Monday's hat-trick were caught-and-bowled and he also made a third catch off a fellow bowler's delivery in the game.