Whanganui has a new rising cricket star with Collegiate old boy Joel Clark gaining selection in the Central Districts Under-19 side.
Clark, who has only just finished his final year at Whanganui Collegiate School, played a pivotal role in CD's second place in the national U19 tournament at the Lincoln University High Performance Centre in Christchurch just last week.
Coached by Jarrod Englefield (Marlborough) and Chad Law (Horowhenua Kapiti), the CD side is made up of 13 players from the Hawke's Bay, Manawatu, Whanganui, Taranaki, Nelson and Marlborough regions that make up the CD catchment. There are also three non-travelling reserves.
To gain selection is a major achievement with many talented players within the age group across the region. Whanganui have not had a player selected for a few years but Clark's name now can join the likes of Ben Smith, who has gone on to higher honours with the CD Stags, Henry Collier, who also made the national U19 squad in his year and fellow Collegiate old boy Nick Blundell.
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The current CD team were runners-up to Canterbury in the six-day national tournament last week.
Clark has, over many years, shown a great deal of promise with his leg-spin bowling and was opening batsman for Whanganui Collegiate School before finishing school and joining club side Property Brokers United, where he is continuing to develop his craft in the Coastal Challenge Cup competition.
For an 18-year-old he has a large list of representative achievements with previous selection to CD U17 and latterly to the Riverview Motel Whanganui men's senior side. In 2019 and 2020 Clark was selected for the New Zealand Secondary Schools Māori team.
At the national tournament last week, CD had wins over Otago, Wellington and Northern Districts, but lost to both Auckland and Canterbury. Both of these games went down to the wire and had all the drama of a classic cricket game.
All teams had losses over the week, but on countback, CD finished runners-up. Clark's best bowling effort of the tournament was 2/28 against Otago with a great deal of contribution in the field and safe hands under the high ball.
Clark is hoping to head one day to England for a gap year where he can continue to develop his cricket, but due to Covid-19, these plans are on hold.
Results for Central Districts at the national U19 Tournament in Christchurch
Round 1: Won against Wellington by 14 runs
Round 2: Won against Otago by 93 runs
Round 3: Lost to Canterbury by 1 wicket
Round 4: Lost to Auckland by 4 wickets (rain - reduced to 26 overs)
Round 5: Won against ND by 10 runs (T20)
Round 6: Won against Wellington by 6 wickets (T20)