He does need a haircut, if you ask teammate Morten Freer, but Izaiah Lange is doing his job superbly for the Napier Technical Old Boys CC premier men's cricket team this summer.

A dreadlocked Lange top scored with 88 runs from 75 balls, including eight boundaries and four sixes, at first drop yesterday to help propel the Innovative Electrical-sponsored champion team towards defending their New Zealand Club Knockout Cup crown as the Hawke's Bay qualifiers.

"We should have put on a bit more than 307, to be honest, but CHB bowled really well at the back end of the innings," said teammate Freer of the Liam Rukuwai-captained side lost the toss and padded up to post 8-307 from their allotted 50 overs.

Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay CC made the Jesse Ryder-coached Texans toil before the latter prevailed by 39 runs at Nelson Park, Napier.

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"It would have been nice to get 330 or 340," he said, revealing a young Lange was finding his selection as the latest Pay Excellence Hawke's Bay senior men's representative a catalyst in carving his career.

"He got a 100 against Cornwall a couple of weeks ago but, yeah, he needs a haircut but anyway," he said of Lange who found it difficult to slip on his No 882 cap at the historic capping ceremony at the RC MacInnes Pavilion a fortnight ago.

Jokes aside, opening batsman Matt Edmondson laid down the platform with 86 runs, including nine fours and three sixes, as six others made double-figure contributions.

The national knockout qualifying final is played at the halfway mark of the 10-game limited-overs of the MJF Shrimpton Memorial Cup competition whose Bay champions will be decided in March.

Freer said it was important to progress from the first stage of the 2018-19 national knockout cup tournament.

"We have the Hawke's Bay final under our belt so we're pretty excited but we have to take it stage by stage," he said.

NTOB are waiting for the Wairarapa champions to emerge to determine who they will face in the next round of the playoffs on January 20 before the top Central Districts premier men's club is decided in a weekend round of matches in Palmerston North later in summer.

The CD qualifiers will then take on the contenders from the other five major association regions for the bragging rights as the best premier men's club team in the country in Auckland early in April next year.

In April this year, NTOB beat Onslow (Wellington) in a rain-disrupted 23-over final at the Cornwall Cricket Club in the Big Smoke.

It came on the heels of winning six consecutive Bay club championship crowns. In doing so, the Napier club rewrote a 140-year-old history in becoming the first side in the province's top grade to eclipse the five-on-the-trot feat that United Cricket Club (Napier) established from 1894-95 to 1898-99. The defunct Hastings Cricket Club had also matched United's record at the start of the World War I in 1914-15 to 1918-19, since the competition began in 1882-83, although records were kept only from 1883-84.

"We're not worried about who or where we're playing but we just want to take each game as it comes," said Freer of this summer.

When asked if NTOB were carrying a target on their backs, he agreed that was possible considering CHB were excited by the prospects of facing them yesterday and came quite close to winning.

Izaiah Lange (left) and Angus Schaw are Hawke's Bay senior men's rep teammates but they stepped up for their clubs in the HB national knockout cup qualifying final yesterday. Photo/Paul Taylor
Izaiah Lange (left) and Angus Schaw are Hawke's Bay senior men's rep teammates but they stepped up for their clubs in the HB national knockout cup qualifying final yesterday. Photo/Paul Taylor

Schaw's knock of 99 runs from 87 balls at No 6, with veteran middle-order batsman James Mackie anchoring him at No 7 with 41 runs, had impressed NTOB.

"They kept us on our toes, mate, because there was a pretty even playing field there for a minute," Freer said as CHB were skittled for 268 from 49.4 overs.

"We did get a little nervous through the middle there and then we knew once we got James Mackie out then, obviously, we could target them at the end."

Freer said it didn't help Schaw, a Pay Excellence Hawke's Bay senior men's representative allrounder, was becoming tired and cramping up.

Welsh import Aneurin Norman, taking the new ball for CHB, was the pick of their bowlers with 3-59 while Schaw claimed 2-50 with his off spinners.

Another old campaigner, Stevie Smidt, claimed a five-wicket bag (5-46) for NTOB with support from Freer (3-31) and left-arm spinner Jayden Lennox (2-37).

"Stevie bowled really well. He's got the art of making the ball reverse swing through the middle of the innings and he bowls very good yorkers so he was really handy from around that 35-over mark," he said of the new-ball seamer who has represented CD Stags nine times in four-day and one-day formats.

Freer said it was always great to have the 29-year-old in the equation when he was available for the Texans' campaign.

He said the two remaining Property Brokers-sponsored 55-over English style red-ball games would provide crucial time in the middle for NTOB batsmen to prepare for the national qualifiers.