They didn't have a platform to polish their game but the Hawke's Bay under-17 lads have returned from the indoor cricket nationals in Auckland as the runners up.
Hawke's Bay Indoor Cricket Club chairman Paul McCarthy said the three teams, flying the Central region flag, were always on the back foot from the word go when the three-day ICNZ Junior Indoor Provincial Championship started on Saturday because of a lack of facilities in the province.
"On our first day we were very rusty where in our first two games we just didn't play well," said McCarthy after the U17s lost 94-37 to Wellington in the final on Monday after losing 122-66 in their opening match.
The Bay U15s lost 106-85 to Auckland A in their semifinal while the U13s lost 70-66 in the plate semifinal to Canterbury, to finish sixth overall.
Of the 16 players in total from the three teams, only eight of them had played six matches before the nationals. They had played three games each over one day in two weekends in the Super League at the capital city in preparing for the nationals with the first one about seven weeks ago.
The Indoor Action Centre along Thames St at Pandora Pond, Napier, closed down last December.
Andrew Huxford had the lease to the building but didn't renew it so the building owner leased it out to an engineering firm, McCarthy said.
"I know Huxy's been looking for new premises and I've looked around Napier for commercial buildings of a suitable size but there's none, full stop, or land."
The Bay U17s had eclipsed the Southern and Northern Districts teams in lifting their next three games.
"The Auckland team we played in the semifinals was one of the most remarkable ones ever seen where we reduced them to six runs over 16 overs so it was just magic," he said after they won "the game of the tournament" 75-6 after succumbing to the city slickers comprehensively in game two.
"For a team to score just six runs is unheard of."
McCarthy said they had 10 national age-group players from last year who had been itching to simply play a game to the extent they had been scouring the length and breadth of the North Island for some continuity.
They will travel to Wellington this Saturday for another Super League open grade day of matches comprising mainly U17s. From Thursday to Friday next week they will compete in the under-22 grade of the national provincial tourney in Palmerston North.
"It'll be a big challenge but, in the end, it'll just be to give them more games but, shivers, it's hard," he said.
McCarthy said an U17 Transtasman Series had been mooted for next year so it was imperative for the Bay boys to accrue games because all of them would be eligible to qualify for their country.
The U17s have been on the road for 10 days out of the last 16 days, starting from July 12 and still to end on July 28.
Western Sports along Omahu Rd, Hastings, has an indoor facility but its courts' specifications and use are primarily for netball.
"Are they appropriate [for indoor cricket]? No, they aren't because the dimensions of the courts are different and so are the heights and the tensions of the nets are different.
"It was adequate," he said, revealing the cricketers managed a couple of hours on a Sunday when they were lucky enough to find a slot that netball hadn't booked.
"There's a pile of netball teams from Napier going to play in Hastings and they're screaming out for more netball courts in Napier itself," he said.
However, McCarthy said the ascendancy of Wellington U17s was reflected in most of their players representing the world champion New Zealand side last year.
Bay players Toby Findlay, Baylee Foote, Sam Pawson, Liam McCarthy and Seth Taylor had represented New Zealand in the U15s at the worlds last October but Joey Field was the only one in the U17s squad. Charlie Pawson and James Rawnsley were the other age-group reps.
All 10 U13s were playing their first match of the season and for many their first game of indoor cricket.
No reserve players
lost to Wellington 122-66
lost to Auckland 94-82
bt Southern 107-17
bt Northern Districts 120-53
Semifinal: bt Auckland 76-5.
Final: lost to Wellington 94-37.
Team MVP: Sam Pawson.
lost to Auckland A 154-18
bt Southern 201-34
lost to Canterbury 86-50
bt Wellington 116-110
bt Auckland B 124-66
bt ND 78-58
Semifinal: lost to Auckland A 106-85.
Team MVP: Pritpal Singh.
bt Canterbury 79-71
lost to ND A 184-52
lost to Auckland A141-51
lost to ND B 111-61
lost to Auckland B 81-80.
lost to ND B 96-82
Plate semifinal: lost to Canterbury 70-66.
Team MVP: Oliver Beale.