Cricket: Grinding out victory

By Cameron Leslie

The grit and determination of Onerahi Central's batsmen cannot be questioned after batting their way to victory in the premier two-day club cricket competition.

Onerahi navigated Whangarei Boys' High School's bowlers around the park for eight and a half hours, thanks largely to Northland batsmen Brad Kneebone (100) and Henry Cooper (95).

Kneebone and Cooper's partnership over the weekend caused their Northland coach, Stephen Cunis, who also coaches Boys' High, much frustration as his team was batted into submission.

"They batted really well," said Cunis.

"They batted us out of the game. Our boys bowled well, they bowled 140 overs, [and] you've got kids who are 13 or 14 out there. But it's a premier final so it's something you've got to get used to.

"Onerahi are the best team on paper, in terms of this game, and they played like that, they just ground it out and just beat us, in terms of smart batting."

Cunis said it was a bit of a catch-22 for him, as Boys' High coach he was frustrated at the negative batting, but on the other hand it was positive to see his Northland players dominating play and grinding out an innings.

"As a coach, in two, three or four-day cricket, what you want is one guy to bat all day," explained Cunis. "And, when you get two guys, because Craig Russell nicked out second ball, then our next wicket was in the 107th over, it's hard.

"We bowled through to 6pm. Some of our guys, like I say, are 13 or 14 and they struggle to field for 50-overs so they did really well, but Onerahi were too good."

Due to the rules of the competition, all Onerahi needed to do was bat. In theory, they could have batted two days and still won the championship.

With the rules being the way they are, Cunis suggested maybe it was time to look at them again to ensure the next two-day final becomes a contest.

Onerahi Central stalwart Barry Cooper agreed with Cunis, saying batting the game out was a reality of the competition.

"It's been a tough few days for the boys [both teams]," said Cooper. "But, I think at the end of it the rules have allowed Onerahi to do what they did, and they've been good enough to do it.

"I suppose it's tough on them [Boys' High], but it's bloody good for them too because it shows them how cricket can be played when they get older.

"I feel for them a bit because I love seeing the young ones do well, it's just a pity it ended up the way it did. But, at the end of the day you've got to take your hat off to Bradley [Kneebone] and Henry [Cooper] because they were good enough to bat all day more-or-less."

Cooper suggested the possibility of turning the final into a three-day affair and not limiting the number of overs a team could bat.

Next weekend club cricket gets back into the more speedy style of play with the one-day competition resuming on Saturday.

- Northern Advocate

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