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Senior B round-up

CRICKET

THEY’RE not machines crushing all underfoot. Yet under the astute captaincy of Craig Christophers, OBR remain unbeaten with 12 points ahead of Round 5 of Senior B cricket’s Hope Cup.

Tomorrow they face Liam Spring’s Campion College (3pts) on Harry Barker Reserve No.4, while on No.3 defending champions Civil Project Solutions Ngatapa Green Caps (9pts) — led by Mike Gibson — take on Siteworx Horouta under Heyan Ranasinghe. Horouta, like Bollywood High School Old Boys Presidents, have six points but are third on net run-rate.

Presidents’ wicketkeeper Ollie Needham and Gisborne Boys’ High School second 11 leg-spinner Dylan Foster lead sides who showed improvement last Saturday. Boys’ High are still looking to pick up their first competition point five weeks in.

“We have to buckle down: that means bowling well, no extras and no mistakes in the field,” said Foster, who has a high regard for his experienced opposition. That opposition may also be aware of the return of promising GBHS opener David Gray from injury and the form of 13-year-old Kelan Bryant, who made his second half-century for the year in Round 4. While Boys’ High have yet to taste victory, the Presidents are aiming for their third win in a row.

“After their strong performance against Ngatapa last week, we’re expecting a competitive game,” Needham said.

Presidents have quality all-rounder Matt Jefferd back on deck. Under Needham, HSOB have had a cerebral injection and a steady hand on the tiller.

Boys’ High seamers Noah Torrance-Cribb and Daniel Watts (in addition to opening batsman Jack Whitehead-McKay) are unavailable and all of the remaining Boys’ High bowlers need to tighten their belts: the 23 wides and five no-balls conceded last Saturday were a major factor in the loss to Ngatapa.

NGATAPA are no longer smarting from the loss to OBR a fortnight ago.

But that’s not to say they still don’t have a point to prove with the bat, two weeks after being dismissed for 96 by HSOB in a 31-run loss. Mike Gibson is back as Green Caps captain, Grant Walsh and Cam McNaught having deputised manfully against GBHS.

Tomorrow the competition’s No.2 team will duel with a Horouta side who will have Northern Spirit opening bowler Kayley Knight, the ultra-competitive Etienne Botes and a host of other wicket-taking options to call on. The depth and variety of bowling types both attacks can muster make this a contest to watch. The pitches at the Reserve currently suit operators who keep the ball up to the bat. Anything short, with the fast outfields, is rarely hauled back even by committed chasers.

Walsh, Jeremy Castles and now Charles Morrison have all bowled their off-spin for Ngatapa intelligently, to good field settings, since October 31. That is why they’ve been effective and unaffected by the fact that the boundary overlap is such that perhaps twice as many sixes are hit in a week than used to be the case.

Caps all-rounder Ryan West, who will take the new ball for his crew tomorrow, can be a handful.

Ranasinghe knows that his team must stand their ground against West — opening batsman Greg Taylor and company have to deny him early wickets.

IN their last two outings, Campion have given Boys’ High a paddling and HSOB a fright.

As a unit, the Liam Spring-led Campion have punched well above their weight this season. Player-coach Mark Naden and fellow teacher Daryl Dunn being unavailable to play has meant school players had had to step up.

Spring, with the gloves and bat, his ace in the hole Blake Marshall with the new ball, and enough runs to make other sides think, are what Campion have been all about. Hamish Swann’s 28 from No.2 in Round 4 and Rhys Grogan’s rapid improvement as a medium-pacer make for good news.

OBR’s Lloyd van Zyl is sharp for Senior B level. Van Zyl’s fellow paceman Rongomai Smith delivers the ball from a fair height and OBR have plenty of bowling tools in the shed. Batting-wise, they have Christophers and keeper Thom Berry, the latter a renowned striker of the ball. It could be a thriller.