GOOD KEEN MEN: Hungry for a catch behind the wicket are the Wairarapa slip cordon, Sean Jarvis (left), Daniel Haxton, Harry Clinton-Baker and Tim Lucas.PHOTO/CHRIS KILFORD
By Gary Caffell
The improved showing by Wairarapa in their Hawke Cup qualifying cricket match with Wanganui at Queen Elizabeth Park Oval in Masterton over the weekend has buoyed selector-coach Sam Curtis.
While the game ended in a draw with Wanganui comfortably taking first innings points, Curtis was delighted with the resolve shown by his mainly young and inexperienced line-up, who were coming off a series of hefty defeats in limited-overs play.
"We were a totally different team this time, the application was way above what it had been in the one-day games," Curtis said.
"It wasn't perfect but it was a lot better, it's given us something to build on."
Wairarapa batted first on a pitch which had few tricks in it and, considering the slowness of the outfield, their 190 was a respectable total. Greytown opener Tim Lucas top scored with 64 made off 180 balls while Curtis, a late replacement for injured skipper Henry Cameron, made 46 off 83 balls.
All told, Wairarapa batted for 85 overs and apart from a couple of run outs they generally answered the call to make what was a lively Wanganui attack earn their wickets.
Wairarapa were still in with a chance for first innings points when Wanganui ended the first day's play at 91-2 in reply and the loss of a couple of early wickets on Sunday morning further boosted the hopes of the local side.
However, Wanganui wicketkeeper Ben Smith, a Central Districts contracted player, was to prove a major stumbling block, mixing patience with aggression in a knock of 131 and he was the catalyst to the visitors getting through to 281, a first innings lead of 91 runs.
Greytown medium pacer Daniel Haxton was the spearhead of a Wairarapa attack that maintained a steady line and length.
He finished with 4-71 from his 23 overs while Jared Watt took 3-52 from 24 overs, Stefan Hook 2-56 from 18 overs and Sean Jarvis 1-44 off 21 overs.
Captaining the Wairarapa side in the absence of Cameron was Red Star skipper Joe Hull and he did a fine job with his bowling changes and field placements.
With some 40 overs of play still remaining, the onus in Wairarapa's second innings was on ensuring they denied Wanganui outright points and they did that comfortably enough, being 78-5 when play ended.
Impressive was the tenacity shown by Rathkeale College batsman Harry Clinton-Baker, whose fighting qualities indicated a maturity beyond his years.
Wairarapa's new Hawke Cup game is against Taranaki early next month and, after Taranaki's inglorious defeat by Manawatu at home last weekend, they can harbour hopes of victory there.
Taranaki were all out for 35 in just 13.4 overs in their first innings and, after Manawatu had replied with 183, they collapsed again for 80, giving Manawatu victory by an innings and 68 runs.