As insurmountable as things may seem to everyone, the Napier Old Boys Marist juggernaut keeps defying odds and critics this summer.
The Station-sponsored team yesterday put themselves in the driving seat to become the best premier men's club team in the country.
The Bevin Pollock-skippered NOBM returned from Palmerston North as the Central Districts champions after qualifying for the annual New Zealand Club Knockout Championship in Auckland in the week leading up to the holiday Easter Weekend on April 6.
"We are the best team in Hawke's Bay and today we were the best in the CD region," a jubilant Pollock said last night as troops got on to the bus to return to Napier from Fitzherbert Park.
"We're going to Auckland now, mate, to see how good we can be in New Zealand," he said after two limited-overs matches at the weekend.
The Llorne Howell-coached NOBM scraped past Biddy Kates Celtic CC (Nelson) on Saturday in the quarterfinals but made their intentions clear in their 125-run victory in the semifinal against HTL Insurance Inglewood CC (Taranaki) yesterday.
Former Black Caps batsman Mathew Sinclair provided the platform for NOBM's innings in both games - 113 runs against Celtic and exactly 100 against Inglewood at No4.
The Napier club's No3, English import Jack Ward, also played a pivotal role in scoring 70 and 75, respectively.
"We pushed Anoop [Renuka-Prajad] to No6 against Celtic and he scored 28 not out and then in the same position [against Inglewood] he was run out for 53 on the last ball," Pollock said.
The NOBM plan was to promote big hitters in a bid to bump up their scores and players got behind it.
"I myself didn't bat at all today and so didn't a few others.
"It's a huge highlight of my cricket career and a historic occasion for Napier Old Boys Marist club."
Pollock said everyone was on "cloud 10" after their ascendancy.
"We've had our share of critics back in the Bay."
The captain reflected on what appeared to be a turmoil on Friday when the Hawke's Bay Cricket Association board and Sharpies Driving Range Taradale CC turned down their request not to play on the Waitangi Day public holiday amid plans from ex-Black Cap Howell to take his men fresh to Palmy.
The NOBM and HBCA boards have contradictory accounts on whether the team requested a postponement or simply wanted to default their game against Taradale (see page 32 for reports).
The HBCA board threatened to "default" NOBM from the Palmy games if they bowed out.
Pollock refrained from wading into the debate except to say: "Put it this way: if I was in Taradale's shoes and the roles were reversed, I would have said, 'No worries guys, let us play [the Friday game] another day'." He confirmed the makeshift premier side on Friday, comprising eight Hobblers (3rd/4th graders) and three regular premier players, had contacted them after their emphatic win at Nelson Park, Napier, to say they had "done their part and it was up to them [boys in Palmy] to do the rest".
"We've proved everyone wrong again so we're really ecstatic.
"For us, what the boys did in Napier is better than what we've achieved in Palmy this weekend," Pollock declared.