Player development is the focus for co-coach Karl Treiber as the Northland senior secondary schoolboys team finished their T20 and ODI tournament in Gisborne yesterday.
Northland finished second in the T20 format, losing to Hamilton in Tuesday's final, before falling again to Hamilton on Thursday's semifinal of the ODI competition to finish third.
The team won the third and fourth playoff in a tight match against Counties Manukau.
"With T20 especially, you've just got to have a good game when it counts and we managed to do that and where we finished is a good representation of where we are at," Treiber said.
In every game of the tournament, over seven bowlers were used with the first 50-over match against Poverty Bay giving all 11 players a turn with the ball.
Treiber said the purpose of this tournament was to develop the skills of young players.
"These kids are in a development tournament and if you only batted and bowled your best players you'd be here for a week and five people would be doing everything and the others would be on the sideline which is unacceptable."
The Northland Cricket junior representative director said it was important to give these opportunities so players could learn how to deal with pressure-filled moments.
"It's that balance between trying to win tournaments and giving players experience and opportunities to perform because if you just set out to win a tournament you'd go about it very differently."
Treiber said this mentality was essential to keeping younger players in the game.
"If you're going to target your star players and give them the only opportunities then you're soon going to be playing with six players in the whole team because no one would drive to Gisborne for that."
Opening bowler Nathan Parkes was a stand-out at the tournament taking wickets at pivotal moments to tilt games back in Northland's favour.
"He's the main-stay of our attack, he never bowled badly, he was really consistent throughout the whole thing and if there is a star of the tournament it would be Nathan for sure."
The first T20 game took place on Monday with Northland comfortably beating Bay of Plenty Lakelands by six wickets. BOP batted first to make 98/9 which Northland chased down in 14.3 overs, reaching 99/4. Max Turner and Cam Gordon top-scored with 27 and 24 respectively.
In what would be their closest game, Northland narrowly beat Waikato Valley by six runs after restricting Waikato to 123/8. Captain Luke Trigg scored an important 35 to get his team to 129 before Parkes tightened the screws on the opposition, taking 2-8 off his four overs, with Sam Webb also taking two wickets.
In a much easier game, Northland blew past Counties Manukau, winning by nine wickets after bowling them out for 77 and chasing it down in 12 overs, losing only one wicket.
This took the team to the final against a strong Hamilton side.
Batting first Northland scored 105 with Cam Gordon top scoring on 24 and in reply, Northland's bowlers kept the game tight with plenty of pressure on the Hamilton batsmen, Brandon Peck the pick of the bowlers with 2-14 off three overs.
However, Hamilton went past the total with four balls to spare and only five wickets down.
The first game of the 50-over competition saw Northland claim a four-wicket win over Poverty Bay. Bowling first, Northland restricted their opponents to 150 all out off 44.3 overs and chased it down in 29 overs, six wickets down. Sam Webb scored the bulk of the runs with a well-made 52.
It was a different story against old foes Hamilton who inflicted a 120-run loss on the Northlanders. The game was more even than the scoreline suggested as Hamilton were cruising at 155/3 until Parkes took three quick wickets to leave Hamilton on 208 all out.
In response, Northland were tracking well at 36 without loss before their batting stocks collapsed and they were all out with only 88 on the board. Alex and Cam Gordon top-scored with 21 and 20 respectively.
This put Northland in yesterday's third and fourth playoff against Counties Manukau. Northland started well with an impressive 227/7 batting first. Trigg led with a true captain's knock of 76, supported by Turner's 44.
Northland's defence of their total got off to a great start with Parkes removing both openers with just 33 on the board for Counties. However, this would trigger a fight-back from the batting side who amassed 77 runs for the third wicket.
Rain become a factor with the ball getting hard to handle for Northland bowlers. However, it would come to Northland's aid as the game was abandoned with Counties on 178/3 with five overs remaining. Northland won by 10 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Treiber said the tournament was an overall success for the group who showed some real potential for the future.
"We've got some kids here that can produce the goods and now its up to us to figure out how to get some more consistency and some bigger scores out of them.
"The difference between good players and great players are the ones that will do that and get bigger scores and really nail game-winning scores and do it more consistently."