Patience a virtue for gutsy Mackie

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor

Hawke Cup

Fitzherbert Park,

Palmerston North

YOU'RE IN your early thirties so you bottle up any dreams you may harbour of ever playing again for a top cricket team.

Okay, so you can jokingly express such desires when you're having a few cold ones with the lads after a Saturday match because your premier club teammates think you're nothing more than a journeyman.

After all, it's the cellphone generation who are receiving the emails and text messages from the not-so-tech savvy coaches these days on making the cut.

Freeze! Don't let yourself slip any deeper into a mind swamp.

That's because Pay Excellence Hawke's Bay senior men's coach, Lincoln Doull, has bucked the trend with the selection of veteran James Mackie for the two-day, must-win Hawke Cup-qualifying match against Manawatu in Palmerston North from today.

The Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay batsman returns to the fold after four Hawke Cup and Chapple Cup (annual one-day CD competition) matches, having last represented the province in 2008-09 when he played two games against Wanganui in a summer when the Dale Smidt-coached Bay won the bragging rights to minor association supremacy.

The 32-year-old lefthander, who scored an unbeaten century on the weekend before Christmas to spearhead CHB to victory over Complete Flooring Napier Technical Old Boys (NTOB) to stay alive in the New Zealand Club Championship qualifiers, never gave up hope of slipping on the black shirt again.

"I was very happy when Lincoln rang me so I'm hoping to score some runs to repay his faith in me," said Mackie before the match today at Fitzherbert Park, a venue he last played at when his Wanganui Collegiate First XI team won the Gillette Cup in 1997 to claim bragging rights as the best secondary schoolboys' outfit in the country.

Running the AMP Walker Mackie insurance business with his father in CHB, Mackie considers himself lucky to have someone of the ilk of former Bay rep Daniel Drepaul who had "been there and done it" to keep reminding him to put up the scores.

Says Doull: "It's not a lot of games for a guy who's been playing cricket for a while."

While Mackie may have lacked some consistency in his innings over previous summers, he certainly hasn't lack the skills.

The problem is he was always heading off to Lincoln University, Christchurch, for studies and retired Bay captain James de Terte was the in-form batsman.

"When I was 20 to 25, rugby was my main sport so I was playing pre-season in Canterbury and then went overseas for four years so it made sense not to pick someone like me who came late from uni and left early," says the man who bats at No 3 in the club one-day competition but drops to No 6 in the 120-over, English-style one-dayers.

His other centuries were against The Station Napier Old Boys' Marist in 2008-09 (130no) and against Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall (101 runs) in 2002-03.

In the 2008-09 campaign, the Bay beat Hamilton by 123 runs, drew with Northland and thrashed Canterbury Country by an innings and 100 runs.

With the Jacob Smith-captained Bay leading the race for a Hawke Cup challenge this summer on 27 points, Mackie is mindful Manawatu, on 24 points, are desperate to win with a match remaining against a weak Wairarapa side.

The Bay have to play a relatively stronger Taranaki side in the last round of Central Districts qualifiers.

Mackie anticipates the Fitzherbert Park wicket to have a greenish tinge, meaning a total of 300 on a traditionally dry Nelson Park, Napier, pitch is unlikely.

So does Mackie harbour hopes of making it into the Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags' mix?

"Hey, old buggers like Skippy [Mathew Sinclair] and Krugs [wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk] are still playing so why not," he says with a laugh of the evergreen former Black Caps in the Alan Hunt-coached CD squad.

With the return of injured speed merchants Liam Rukuwai and Stevie Smidt who missed the previous round against Wairarapa in Napier, young seamers Jack Arnall and Ben Stoyanoff miss out against the Michael Mason-coached Manawatu this weekend.

Doull says the pair will not miss out on game time as they are in the CD under-19 team playing in the national tourney around the country.

Cornwall's Ben Jackett retains his place after using the new ball with aplomb in the last round.

The Bay also have the services of CD squad seamer Andrew Mathieson and spinner Ajaz Patel.

"They have been with the As and are pretty fired up about playing," Doull said of the pair who played in the week-long New Zealand Provincial A tourney which finished this week in Lincoln with CD finishing last.

Andrew Lamb, BJ Barnett and Cornwall batsman Michael Taiaroa were called into the Stags' mix as they try to salvage their HRV Cup Twenty20 campaign in avoiding the wooden spoon.

Allrounder Barnett made 12th man but Doull questions the squad selection of Taiaroa for tomorrow's match against HRV Cup leaders Otago Volts at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, in the penultimate match with the Stags' campaign over a fortnight ago with just two wins to date.

"I'm not sure if he's the ultimate Twenty20 cricket, to be honest, so I'm surprised by the selection, actually.

"He's a good little player but he's not suited to the modern T20 game. I must say he has the ability to play shield cricket," he said of Taiaroa's ability to make an impact on the four-day Plunket Shield campaign, in which CD are leading this summer.

"It's a bit of a shame but it's always good for Mikey although there's not much for him there with 12th man duties."

Not having graced Fitzherbert Park for almost six years, Doull says with the council taking over the upkeep of the wicket from a good groundsman it's hard to say how the pitch will play.

He tends to feel nothing shy of a 250-plus score will be ideal for a first-innings victory that will yield seven points from eight for the winners.

That an outright victory is unlikely is a testimony to the calibre of players in both teams.

The Bay's top six batsmen please Doull who is comfortable in the knowledge tailenders such as Smidt and Patel are capable of eking out half tons if necessary.

CD A player Roald Badenhorst is likely to take the new ball with veteran ex-Black Cap Mason for the hosts.

Manawatu Turbos hooker Brynn Templeton has also comes in as a bowler in the squad but isn't in the line up.

"The team who wins this game will probably be in the box seat for a challenge," said Doull.


HAWKE'S BAY (from): Jacob Smith (c), Jayden Waters, Ben Jackett, Seb Langridge (all Cornwall), Angus Schaw, James Mackie (CHB), Ajaz Patel (Taradale), Andrew Mathieson (NOBM) Bronson Meehan, Stevie Smidt, Liam Rukuwai (all NTOB).

MANAWATU (from): Luke Murray (c), Brynn Cleaver, Mitch Renwick, Dave Meiring, Dane Cleaver, Roald Badenhorst, Hayden Hill, Arana Noema-Barnett, Navin Patel, Tim Richards, Mike Mason, Phil Mecredy.

Standings: Hawke's Bay 27, Manawatu 24, Taranaki 15, Wanganui 9, Horowhenua/Kapiti 3 and Wairapa 3.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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