Captain Liam Rukuwai had every right to be buoyant after his defending champions, Napier Technical Old Boys, opened their national club cricket championship campaign in convincing fashion today.
"I'm very happy. We're just carrying on from what we've done previously this season in our club finals back home as well as the Central Districts competition finals," right-arm seamer Rukuwai said after the Texans beat Northern Districts champions Greerton of Tauranga by 10 wickets at the Cornwall club in Auckland.
"Everyone has trust in each other. We're sticking to that, we're enjoying our cricket and we're playing with confidence," Rukuwai said.
Rukuwai won the toss and put Greerton in to bat. Greerton were all out for 71 after 31.1 overs in the 50-over clash. None of the Greerton batters scored more than 18 runs.
As has been the case all summer for the Innovate Electrical Napier Technical side, their bowlers shared the load and did an outstanding job. Medium-slow bowler Morten Freer took four wickets during his six overs, three of them maidens, while conceding 11 runs.
Rukuwai took two wickets during his 10 overs, three of them maidens, while conceding 18 runs. Todd Watson and Christian Leopard also took two wickets each.
In reply the Texans scored 72 runs off 7.4 overs. Wicketkeeper Matt Edmondson scored 27 not out off 25 balls during his 32 minutes in the middle.
He hit three fours and one six. Leopard scored 39 not out off 21 balls and his haul included eight fours.
Despite the drubbing Rukuwai said there was still room for improvement.
"There are always improvements teams can make. We're looking for more consistency from our bowlers so we can put more pressure on opposing batters. Our fielding can be better too."
He was impressed with the Cornwall club's grounds and said the decision to delay the start of plan an hour after early morning rain was the right one. Rukuwai said he intends to stick to his formula of putting the opposition into bat first should he win the toss.
Two of his players, Bronson Meehan and Steve Smidt, missed today's game because of work commitments. Meehan was expected to arrive in Auckland in time for tomorrow's match against Wellington champions Eastern Suburbs and Smidt in time for Thursday's play.
"We're lucky one of our players [Angus Philpott] who moved up to Auckland earlier this year was available to help us out today," Rukuwai said.
Rukuwai was expecting a tough match against Eastern Suburbs who have Wellington Firebirds powerhouse Michael "Beast" Bracewell on their roster.
The Texans, who have former Black Cap Jesse Ryder as their player-coach, are making their ninth appearance at the nationals and are chasing their third title. In addition to last year's title they were also triumphant in 2003.
Eastern Suburbs also bring a strong recent record, however — not to mention a strong, experienced squad that also includes Wellington A rep and occasional Firebirds allrounder Jamie Gibson who was the individual star of their winning 2017 campaign and awarded Player of the Tournament for two years straight. Easts won the title back-to-back in 2016 and 2017. One of Wellington's most successful senior club sides in recent years, this week will also be their ninth appearance since 1995, likewise on the hunt for their third national trophy overall.
The Parnell Cricket Club, which turned 161 years old this season (established 1858), won Auckland Cricket Association's Jeff Crowe Cup to qualify and will be putting their best foot forward for the host city while Canterbury representatives St Albans have headed north with high hopes after having put together "one of our best squads ever for this time of year".
Dunedin's Green Island has won back-to-back national titles twice (in 1999 and 2000; and again in 2005 and 2006) and returns to the nationals for the first time in 11 seasons looking to give their veteran retiring captain Dion Lobb a winning send-off.
Lobb will have at his disposal current or recent Otago Volts Christi Viljoen, Gregor Croudis, Blair Soper and Brad Wilson (who retired from Domestic representative cricket at the conclusion of the Plunket Shield two weeks ago) as well as young Southland leg-spinner Jack Mockford and former Northland wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Kneebone.
Each team plays each other once across the 50-over, round-robin format, all with an initial goal of qualifying in the top two by close of play on Saturday. The top two clubs will then meet in Sunday's 1v2 final on the number one oval to decide the 2018/19 national champion, while the remaining teams concurrently battle it out for the minor places in the 3v4 and 5v6 playoffs on the two adjacent ovals.