Coach Dale Smidt will be the first to confess he has to jump on his Napier Technical Old Boys players every now and then but, in the same breath, he will tell you that motivation is an innate quality that his troops possess and put to good use.

"The guys take ownership of that. Our guys have pretty high expectations of what they want to achieve in a cricket season and they don't shy away from them," says Smidt after the Big Barrel-sponsored Old Boys rewrote a 140-year-old history in Hawke's Bay premier men's club cricket when they won their sixth consecutive overall crown at Taradale Park, Napier, last Saturday.

NTOB beat You Travel Taradale CC by 71 runs at Taradale Park, Napier. No 4 batsman Indika Senarathne scored 161 runs from 115 balls, including 17 boundaries and seven sixes to help amass 311/9 in 50 overs of the MJF Shrimpton Memorial Cup limited-overs competition.

Taradale came up shy on 240/9 in their run chase with South Africa import No 4 Dean Foxcroft and No 5 Callum Hewetson scoring 67 runs each.


New-ball seamer Jayden Lennox picked up a five-wicket bag (5-57).

But while the myriad memorabilia in the modest clubrooms at Whitmore Park will dazzle the admirer, it's the shiny metal on display but intangible mettle within that forms the very fabric of NTOB's eminence both on and off the park.

That sense of responsibility and goal setting from Smidt's players demand winning cricket rather than just turning up or patting each other on the back for making the playoffs.

"It's something of an ethos, I guess. It's not something I've had to drive but it's something that comes from within and which is part of the club's history, I think."

That is not to say the coach doesn't have to enforce it during the summer when the men find themselves straying into the danger zone of simply going through the motions.

"There's no point in me yelling and shouting and beating my chest to say we've got to win every week if the guys don't buy into that.

"I won't probably be there for very long if I did that, I suppose, and I say that tongue in cheek."

Smidt says it has certainly been one of their major goals this summer after sitting down with senior players to nut out a pathway of sorts.


"We wanted to knock that off and then get the [national] club champs," he says after NTOB are on track as the Central Districts catchment area representatives at the annual New Zealand Premier Men's Club Knockout Tournament in Auckland from April 11-16.

What comes through thick and fast in the NTOB constitution is the level of awareness among younger players of the club's rich history.

"It is something that's quite unusual, I think, so that's really important."

Rukuwai, son Stevie Smidt, and Bronson Meehan looked up to the likes of Craig Findlay and Mike Pawson when they were teenagers at the cusp of carving out a nice at premier club level.

Now the crop of teenagers, Dale Smidt says, look up to the incumbent trio as "heroes" and motivational figures.

"In terms of succession planning it sort of self-manifests itself, I suppose, in some ways."

However, he emphasises that if the executives and administrators drop the ball as a club then "it'll take a long, long time to get it back, too".

"I obviously report to them and they keep me on track," he says with a laugh. "If I'm not getting what the club needs then they'll jump on me and that's how I think it should be."

The most satisfying think for the Hawke's Bay Cricket Association administrator has been to develop their own talent.

"We're very much a working-class club based in Maraenui, Te Awa, Marewa area so we've certainly had a strong Maori and Pacific Island influence."

Juxtapose the club with a counterpart from Auckland, he says, and NTOB is decidedly smaller in many aspects.

Smidt believes the Texans are a "descent side" this season with a chance to have a crack at becoming the best premier men's club in the country but hastens to add so will be the other fiver contenders from the other five major associations.

For argument's sake, North East Valley CC boast the likes of first-class and former or current internationals such as Derek de Boorder, Jimmy Neesham, Neil Broom, Anaru Kitchen and Michael Rae. Throw in New Zealand under-19 World Cup representative Matthew Fisher into the mix and you start getting the picture.

But that doesn't mean names will intimidate the CD flag fliers.

"When we get out there we can put out 10 guys who have played for Hawke's Bay or CD at some age," he says.

Captain Liam Rukuwai has represented CD A and age group, Stevie Smidt has a few Stags games under his belt, Christian Leopard is knocking on the domestic cricket door, Jayden Lennox has earned his CD age-group stripes while Sri Lanka import Indika Senarathne has stepped up to the Burger King Super Smash Twenty20 stage for the Stags in previous summers.

No doubt, former Black Cap and current Stag batsman Jesse Ryder will become the cornerstone of the NTOB campaign.

"We've got to nail our preparation. We have a couple of guys who have niggles at the moment but we will get it right and we've got train right through to April."

Smidt says intends to scratch out a couple of games somewhere during the twilight stage of season when the premier club competitions lift the stumps.

The Auckland representatives to the national club championship will be known this weekend.

Round nine of the 50-over Bay competition resumes today with NTOB and The Station Napier Old Boys Marist hosting Bayley's Real Estate Havelock North CC and Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay CC at Nelson Park, Napier, while Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall CC will welcome Taradale CC in Hastings in the 11am starts.

Other major association regions also are in the playoff stages.

NTOB: Liam McFarland, Matt Edmondson (wk), Liam Rukuwai (c), Indika Senarathne, Bronson Meehan, Todd Watson, Stevie Smidt, Jayden Lennox, John Drake, Jack Smidt.
Coach: Dale Smidt.