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Counting down to season finale

CRICKET

SENIOR cricketers hoping for a strong end to the season are only two weeks away from the DJ Barry Cup semifinals.

Bollywood Stars High School Old Boys and Galaxy World Gisborne Boys' High School meet tomorrow in a top-of-the-table clash, while Coastal Concrete OBR will look to bounce back from last Saturday's loss to Boys' High when they take on Horouta.

HSOB haven't hit sustained top form since the Christmas break. They have been getting the results they need, but haven't been able to crack the problem of a strong GBHS side.

The old students have the talent and depth to push any team to the edge, but haven't been able to put together a full team performance and dominate their opponents.

Their top order is one of the strongest on paper in the competition, but cricket is a game where being in form is make or break.

Their second placing on the leaderboard indicates their potential, even though they are still seeking a complete performance.

HSOB captain Carl Shaw says they expect a tight game, and are looking forward to the challenge of a GBHS side in great form.

“Anyone in our team has the ability to pull out a match-winning performance,” he said.

“We just need to have the grit to take on the challenge ourselves and not leave it to the next guy.”

GBHS have been the team to beat since they lost the Doleman Cup final. They haven't lost a game since.

Graham Sharp continued his run of fine form last weekend and is the key wicket for HSOB this week. If he gets started at the crease, he's hard to dismiss. With power, timing and placement, Sharp punishes every bad ball.

GBHS coach Mal Trowell said his team had trained well this week and had confidence in their bowling attack.

“They have been great all season. Matthew (Foster) and Josiah (Turner) have been at the front of this for us.”

After a middle-order slump last week, Trowell is hoping for a big improvement in the batting.

“There's plenty of talent, but we've struggled to get the application required.

“If our men give a good account of themselves I will be happy. We're looking to maintain our spot at the top of the table.”

OBR have been struggling to field a full team in recent weeks.Through no fault of their own, the team have had players unavailable at short notice, which has left them undermanned.

Despite not fielding a playing 11, they have shown their class by making their recent games extremely competitive.

The team have a great combination of extremely powerful hitters, such as Nick Greeks and Kieran Venema, and a dangerous bowling attack.

If they field a full team this weekend they will be confident, having shown to themselves that even with nine players they can push opponents into uncomfortable waters.

OBR stalwart Ian Loffler said fielding a full team tomorrow would be key to their chances of success, particularly in restricting runs in the field.

“I have no doubt if we had the full squad that we had at the start of the season, we'd be cleaning up the competition,” he said.

OBR had suffered from the absence of key players Dane Thompson and Jimmy Holden but the rest of the team had shown the “fight-hard attitude” of the club to step up in their absence, Loffler said.

He has stepped aside as captain to give the next generation of players the opportunity to lead the team, and said Nick Greeks had shown a “knack” for the skipper's role.

“Nick has really stepped up and captained the team well. He has that good personality that motivates the boys.”

Horouta are destined for a win, or so it seems. Since they made some changes for the DJ Barry Cup, it seems that not only their results but also their spirits have lifted.

With Parminder Kulaar and Ben Brick in good form, they have the stability at the top of the order that they were missing. That has reduced the pressure on the middle order — who had previously been coming out early — to score a lot of runs.

Horouta seem like a different team to the outfit that started the season and would struggle to make 100 in their innings. They have the opportunity in the last weeks of the competition to earn another win in their campaign this season, which will only help as they look towards 2021/22.

Horouta captain David Situ said the team were in high spirits going into this weekend on the back of three good performances in a row.

“I think we've found a few players who, given the time, can be really good players. We just need to develop them.”

He said being able to post scores that they could defend had raised the morale of the team substantially.

“The team have more hope as we start fielding. We're not just waiting for them to get the runs.”

Horouta haven't been able to bring together their full side, with work schedules that made several key players unavailable at once, but Situ believes they have the depth to give any team in the competition a run for their money.

He says their recent form has given them the belief that they can win games, which has raised the energy level and enthusiasm in the side.

in form: Graham Sharp is a key player for Gisborne Boys' High School. File picture by Paul Rickard