Wanganui pull off final upset

By Jared Smith

What is that saying about how past form counts for nothing in a final?

After spending three days staring at the back of a dominant Manawatu Under 16 team in the opening tournament of the Wanganui Cricket Festival, the home boys conjured an extraordinary performance in the Sunday final they just scraped through to make beating the favourites in green by five wickets.

Manawatu had been undefeated heading into the playoff, while Wanganui, Auckland and Horowhenua-Kapiti had shared the honours in their other matches with just one win each.

On Saturday, after two days of nervousness resulting in misfields and dropped catches, Wanganui heeded the words of a disappointed coaching staff and pulled themselves out of the fire with a five wicket win over Auckland.

The home side just managed the necessary bonus point from winning the 50-over game by the 40th over, thereby drawing level with Auckland on the points table and making the final by virtue of winning the matchup between the two sides.

Senior Wanganui representative player Brett Cameron, using the tournament as preparation for this month's Hawke Cup matches, was in sublime form.

The 16-year-old followed up his 69 in the loss to Manawatu on the opening day with 52 against Auckland.

It was a good comeback after Thursday's defeat and then the deflating one-wicket loss to Horowhenua-Kapiti on Friday when the winning runs were struck off the last ball.

Still, there were few yesterday who would have expected Wanganui to trouble the solid Manawatu side, who despite being restricted to 185-8 thanks to some tight bowling from the likes of Dylan Martin (2-27), had the home side in the cart at 10-2 and then 50-3.

Enter Cameron, who proceeded to share a 95-run partnership with 14-year-old Jessica Watkin off to play in the Central District's Under 15 girls team this week.

Watkin smacked two sixes in her 32, before Cameron took a chokehold on the match with an unbeaten 109 the tournament's only century.

The young man collected a $450 Aero cricket bat as the leading run scorer of the tournament, while the side raised 'The Bat' trophy - donated by Wanganui District Council.

"It was quite good some really good compliments from Manawatu's coach to Cameron and the team," said tournament organiser Dilan Raj.

The festival continues to be a valued proving ground for young talent.

As the most travelled, Auckland coach Anthony Matijasevich said it was no trouble motivating his side to come here in fact they are the ones always asking about it.

"It is probably the most picturesque ground we could play on a Victoria Park."

Matijasevich said his boys appreciated the chance for matches on a proper grass track, with properly marked fields and continued refinement by the groundsman.

"When the boys see a roller going out before a game, it really makes them feel special.

"From the boys point of view, it's fabulous."

The festival continues tomorrow with the start of the big Under 15/Under 17 girls tournaments.


January 3

Manawatu 195-6 beat Wanganui 186-5 (40 over game); Auckland 175-5 beat Horowhenua-Kapiti 100 (40 over game).

January 4

Wanganui 201-8 lost to Horowhenua-Kapiti 202-9; Manawatu 236-7 beat Auckland 173-9.

January 5

Auckland 211-8 lost to Wanganui 212-5; Manawatu 209 beat Horowhenua-Kapiti 84.

January 6

Final: Manawatu 185-8 lost to Wanganui 186-6.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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