CRICKET: Big Red set to scrap

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor

NTOB v Cornwall

50-over final

Premier men's cricket

TWO SUMMERS ago he got air time on national TV for losing his wicket without facing a ball when the umpires timed him out for not making it to the batting crease in the regulation time of three minutes.

But that's not the reason why Craig Herrick feels he may be a little underdone for Complete Flooring Napier Technical Old Boys (NTOB) in today's  crunch game at Nelson Park, Napier.

``I still try to make it to the crease,'' the Napier accountant from PWC says with a laugh from Auckland before the HBCA 50-over premier men's club final against Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall.

Clientele demands mean he has to travel around the country so keeping his head down as a middle-order batsman and following through in the nets on weekdays is almost always out of the question but he makes a point of not missing match-day Saturdays.

Known to his teammates as ``the Big Red'', Herrick is primarily a bowler who can bat.

Today's final, he agrees, is between a side who have the edge in bowling (NTOB) and an opposition who have the edge in batting.

While everyone goes on about ``great wickets'' in the Bay, Herrick is asked what is in it for a bowler?

``It can be hard work but, I guess, you need to build some pressure.

``You make the batters get dot balls and then wait for them to play a stupid shot.''

While he is only 25, Herrick believes he's getting a bit long in the tooth but ``certainly not broken down'' after five seasons at premier level with NTOB.

The new four fielders out, rather than five, isn't too different because he feels teams can still cover most hitting areas.

``You just have to think about it a little more.''

That also entails having captain George Diack perceptive to new ideas.

``It's not a dictatorship. Georgie's good for the team and he's very passionate so he'll be looking forward to Saturday.''

With NTOB and Cornwall staging end-of-season prize-giving  tonight, Herrick says winning isvital for a decent celebration.

Having won the duck trophy last summer, he's confident he won't be collecting the award this time, with a couple of other blokes already setting the pace.

For Cornwall, there's Michael Taiaroa who has no hurdles finding time to hone his batting skills in the net.

The 24-year-old has scored two centuries this summer _ one last Saturday in the semifinal against

Havelock North CC (125 runs) and the other was an unbeaten 179 for Pay Excellence Hawke's Bay senior

men in a Hawk Cup match against Wairarapa in December.

``It's been good and I've enjoyed getting back into the runs,'' says Taiaroa who is heading back to

Ireland to stay in touch with cricket over winter in the hope of returning next summer with the intention of making the cut for the Central Districts Stags' domestic squad.

``I've got to keep on knocking on that door so when the opportunity comes I'll grab it with both hands.''

He was invited to be part of the Stags' squad at Pukekura towards the end of the HRV Cup Twenty/20 campaign after the NZA Provincial Tournament in Christchurch early in the year but didn't play.

``It was a good environment so I was happy to get the opportunity to be among the guys.''

However, he has a job to do for his Hastings club tomorrow and, like Herrick, acknowledges the rivalry between the clubs is exciting and challenging.

While some young players may feel intimidated playing NTOB, Taiaroa reckons he and seasoned campaigners such as Jonathon Hall treat it as just another game.

With countless games at Nelson Park, there's little home advantage on a traditionally batting strip.

Last summer Cornwall beat NTOB in the  limited-overs  final after rain forced a  move to a Park Island  artificial pitch. 

A fortnight ago, Cornwall also beat NTOB in the last round of the round-robin matches at Nelson Park.

Even without Stevie Smidt and Liam Rukuwai, 2012-13 T20 champions Cornwall take a modicum of mental fortitude against the top qualifiers who have won the English-style 60-over competition and the overall title.

It still rankles with NTOB that Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay stole their thunder as the Bay qualifiers for the national premier men's club championship in Auckland before bowing out in the playoffs in Palmerston North.

Cornwall were without several players on Bay rep duties earlier  but with them back they have blossomed.

Someone's beer, no doubt, will taste a little less sweet  at the prizegiving tonight.


Top qualifier v 3rd qualifer at Nelson Park, Napier:

NTOB: George Diack (c), Bronson Meehan, Liam Rukuwai, Matt Edmondson, Indika Senarathne, Stevie Smidt, Craig Herrick, Turangi Fraser, Jurgen Andersen, Ruan Martin, JK White (wk), Christian Leopard (12th man).

CORNWALL: Jacob Smith (c), Ben Jackett, Michael Taiaroa, Seb Langridge (wk), Jayden Wiggins, Jonathon Hall,

John Jowsey, Jarod Hughes, Scott Brocklehurst, Charley Crasborn, Liam Dudding.



- Hawkes Bay Today

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