Cricket: Final chance to get some silverware

By Anendra Singh

Whatever the pre-season goals and regardless of the permutations to secure a playoff berth, the time to talk trash is well and truly over.

Tomorrow talk will be cheap because anything short of bringing an A game to the park will be the end of the premier men's club season.

No matter how many beers players will have at their club prizegiving nights, they won't be able to get rid of that feeling of emptiness.

Excuses of not having players available due to injuries or whatever commitments just won't cut it.

Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall started the summer with the Twenty20 title.

Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay clinched the bragging rights to carry the Bay's hopes to the New Zealand Club Championship qualifiers.

Complete Flooring Napier Technical Old Boys (NTOB) won the English-style (60-over) crown and with it the overall title.

That means Havelock North CC are probably feeling the pressure most in a bid to stay in the hunt for the 50-over silverware when they host Cornwall in their semifinal at Anderson Park.

No doubt, NTOB would want nothing else than whipping CHB at Nelson Park in the other semifinal to help ease the pain a little, too, of not claiming a clean sweep.

Having lost to Cornwall last Saturday, NTOB will want to stop the rot.

"It's not the best [way to go to the playoffs] but it's probably the best kick up the arse," NTOB skipper George Diack says.

Stevie Smidt and Liam Rukuwai are back in the equation but Matt Edmondson (cut his foot in Wellington) isn't in what Diack considered to be the best two sides in the competition.

CHB will be at full strength although Central Districts pair Kruger van Wyk and Ben Smith are likely to be on domestic duties.

Says CHB coach Colin Schaw: "We're waiting to hear from Ben but we want him to play for CD because it's really good for him."

Schaw says CHB are pleased to be playing NTOB who are the side to beat.

"We've got absolutely nothing to lose and they have everything to lose," he says, emphasising the geographic disadvantage of trying to lure players to CHB but getting through with the help of import Paul Hindmarch and a couple of others from the Mainland.

He feels a sense of pride in offering five players to represent Hawke's Bay at myriad levels this summer.

"We've been doing things differently with a relatively young group," Schaw says.

Diack feels it'll be a game of redemption but "we don't want to be getting too ahead of ourselves".

If CHB win, NTOB will have to concede the club champs loss had little to do with luck.

Havelock North captain Todd Astill is playing it safe despite having beaten arch rivals Cornwall twice this season in the limited-overs competition to hold the Gifford Devine Challenge Bat this winter.

"I've said at the start of the season that whatever four teams make the semifinals both games will be up for grabs," Astill says.

"Whoever turns up and puts the best numbers on the board will go to the final," he says, feeling the stroll in the park against easy-beats The Station Old Boys' Napier Marist last Saturday had its advantages.

While they probably didn't spend enough time on the batting crease, he expects them to make up for that in the nets.

On the flip aside, taking that good buzz into the playoffs will be a godsend.

Cornwall manager Neil Jackett is pleased the team is starting to play at the business end the way they should have played at the start of the season.

Jackett says with the team mutating consistently it hasn't been easy.

With the help of captain Jacob Smith making good decisions on the field, Cornwall will try to overcome the disadvantage of playing away.

Teenager Jack Arnall is out due to university while Jayden Waters returned to Blenheim to begin his rugby campaign there.

Liam Dudding's promising start last Saturday will be handy in backing up Ben Jackett.

Dudding, who left St John's College, broke his wrist not long after Charley Crasborn's early this summer.


- Hawkes Bay Today

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