It's just not cricket and yet, in a funny sort of way, it is if you look at it from every conceivable angle.

Sharpies Driving Range Taradale CC aren't laughing but the premier men's side went down by 22 runs to The Station Napier Old Boys' Marist (NOBM) at Nelson Park on Friday.

At face value it hardly comes across as dramatic news, but when you find out that eight of the 11 NOBM players are the Hobblers, then a degree of mirth creeps in to give it a new perspective.

The Hobblers, for those in cricket wilderness, is NOBM's third/fourth division players.


"There was a fair bit of trepidation because we're in the third and fourth grade for the fun of it," NOBM prem captain of the day Andrew Frame said.

"Having seen how fast the prems bowl, we didn't want anyone to get hurt," Frame said after NOBM lost the toss and padded up to post a respectable 247 all out in 47.5 overs in the Property Brokers-sponsored limited-overs competition.

The regular prems trio of Casey Rangi (70 runs), Harry Ghodke (60) and Jack Ward (20) provided the platform before the Hobblers contributed 91 runs to the cause.

In reply, Taradale managed 225 before they were skittled with eight overs to spare.

But here comes the "not-cricket" part, according to NOBM.

The Prems were depleted because coach Llorne Howell wanted to rest his players for the National Club Knockout Championship playoff matches in Palmerston North at the weekend for the Central Districts hopefuls.

"Llorne wanted his players settled down as a unit because it was a public holiday [Waitangi Day]," Frame explained, adding two NOBM board members contacted the Hawke's Bay Cricket Association (HBCA) board to ask if the game could be deferred.

"The Bay board said no and Taradale said no as well," he said, as NOBM contemplated forfeiting the Nelson Park game.

However, Frame said NOBM got a reply from the HBCA board that if they defaulted then the prems would be disqualified from the national club champs playoffs in Palmy.

"Napier Marist were representing the Bay region at the club champs so taking them out wasn't an option."

Big Barrel NOBM, the club's other 3rd/4th team, couldn't afford to step up because they were playing their last round of the Bay competition in a bid to secure the top rung.

So that burden fell on The Hobblers who were playing Cornwall Oaks on Friday.

The gallant eight who answered the call of duty for NOBM Prems were Frame, Tony Sheriff, son Ben Sheriff, Scott Morgan, Steven Rogers, Matthew Betesta, Gaurav Gaur and Liston Dsouza.

"Most of the guys looked at it as a challenge and enjoyed the opportunity," Frame said.

Ward and Rangi were not supposed to bowl but the former rolled his spinning arm for seven overs while the latter chipped in with two medium-paced ones.

NOBM wicketkeeper Ghodke claimed a five-wicket bag but Betesta caught the eye with a wicket from 10 overs, including a maiden, conceding 56 runs.

Tony Sheriff took 1-28 from five overs but Frame said the Hobblers' fielding was the beacon at the horizon.

"We didn't expect our bowling to be up there with the prems but we put our bodies on the line to cut off as many runs as possible."

Tony Sheriff and bowler Betesta's run out of Ben Stoyanoff for 22 runs and Rogers' "screaming catch" off Taradale top scorer Tevita Mpofu for 50 runs off a Betesta delivery at midwicket epitomised the fielding effort.

"Taradale certainly didn't play soft cock as it was a full-on game and they weren't happy losing but they were good sportsmen," Frame said.

The Hobblers are likely to finish playing the rest of their summer in bottom six of the 3rd/4th grade when the split kicks in for the 15-team Bay lower-tier club competition.

"That's okay because that's where we want to be as it's more competitive and there's more camaraderie," Frame said.

Having won, he phoned ex-Black Cap Howell and his men to inform them that they had to fulfil their obligations as the provincial flag bearers of prem club cricket.

They did so, scraping through with a 25-run win over Celtic (Nelson) in Saturday's quarterfinal and overwhelming Inglewood CC (Taranaki) by 125 runs yesterday in the semifinal to become the CD champions to book a place at the national finals in Auckland.

In other prem games on Friday, Complete Flooring Napier Technical Old Boys beat Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay by 113 runs at Forest Gate Domain, Ongaonga, while Bayley's Real Estate Havelock North beat Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall by 69 runs at Anderson Park in the village.