Napier Technical Old Boys are one sleep away from retaining their bragging rights as the best premier men's club cricket team in New Zealand.
The Innovative Electrical-sponsored Texans eased into the final tomorrow morning after persistent rain prompted the abandonment of all three matches on the final round-robin day of the week-long NZCT National Club Championship in Auckland today.
The Jesse Ryder-coached defending champions were mathematically assured of reloading against slayers and unbeaten Canterbury campaigners St Albans, of Christchurch, entering today's match regardless of whether or not they stumbled against Otago representatives Green Island, of Dunedin, due to a bullish net run rate in the tournament.
Only a grossly one-sided result, in favour of Green Island, would have denied one-loss NTOB a grand final berth at the Cornwall Cricket Club park No 1 wicket in the 10am start tomorrow.
The burning question is while rain eliminated the infinitesimal chances of Green Island doing the unthinkable, will it be in the Texans' red corner tomorrow?
That's because the weather forecast is for rain from 2pm to 8pm so the ball will, inevitably, be in the court of the umpires although the switch from daylight saving to standard time overnight may help sway a decision towards playing some form of game.
Ironically last year the Texans claimed the crown in an abbreviated final after rain created havoc in the morning, begging the question if April, with the onset of autumn, is the ideal time to play the tournament.
NTOB skipper Liam Rukuwai and his troops were simply delighted to have made it to the stage where the final throw of the die will be in their hands to exorcise the demons of a 27-run loss to the Cantabrians on Thursday.
"The way it's worked out means a couple of the boys get to have a rest before the final - weather permitting," Rukuwai said.
Handing over the crown to St Albans on a countback of victories won't be palatable for the champion Napier club but they remain in the dark overnight on what is likely to transpire.
"If tomorrow it rains off then St Albans will win so that'll be pretty disappointing [because] I feel like we've got a team to win it despite the hiccup the other day so let's hope the weather turns it on," he said, reflecting on all top-order batsmen, bar Christian Leopard, failing to make major contributions to their total on field No 3 with smaller boundaries.
"You never know in Auckland, you never know," he said of a brighter outlook in the Big Smoke.
Rukuwai cast his mind back to last year's final when morning rain made the chances of play look ominous but they ended up completing a 20-over affair.
Should the players run on to the park, it is imperative the specialist batsmen bring their A games, especially in adopting an aggressive tempo that has worked for them but could back fire, rather than relying on Ryder to rescue them.
Matt Edmondson and Leopard have shown a degree of that consistency but that department has remained the domain of the NTOB bowlers who have stifled all opposition to paltry totals and also kept St Albans to 290 runs and 25 balls to spare on a wicket where other matches yielded 300-plus in an innings.
Breaking from tradition may equal smart cricket, especially after change pace bowler Todd Watson and left-arm orthodox spinner Jayden Lennox found traction this week.
As St Albans showed, every game is about turning up at the park on the day and, should the weather gods chuck a curve ball tomorrow, who can begrudge the Cantabrians the title of the best premier men's club in the country?