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Heads down Horouta


It’s a big gut-check for Horouta.

Since their 185-run win against the Gisborne Boys’ High School Colts in Round 3, “The Waka” have lost their last three games and their captain Heyan Ranasinghe — who belted seven sixes and 16 fours in his 128 against the Colts — wants his side to get their cricket season back on track, starting tomorrow.

“We’re looking forward to this match with OBR,” the Coastal Ultrasound Horouta skipper said.

“We have a strong bowling line-up but we need to improve our fielding and batting.”

It is strange to think that a side who began their campaign to get back to the Hope Cup final by making 290-6 in 30 overs should go into this match against Rawhiti Legal Old Boys Rugby on the back of a six-wicket loss to the second-youngest team in the competition, Campion College.

Horouta seamer Chad Collins was the pick of their bowlers last week with 2-21 from six overs and opening batsman James Craig’s 40 was a good knock.

Horouta don’t need pyrotechnics — just solid graft.

OBR beat Boys’ High by nine wickets last weekend and are again on their “home ground”, Harry Barker Reserve No.3, a pitch on which they have won their past three games.

OBR skipper Craig Christophers retired on 46 in Round 6 — as did teammate Ian Loffler, on 65 — and so OBR are in good form with the bat. Moreover, competition for places has heated up. Left-hand opening bat Peter Stewart and wicketkeeper Malcolm Trowell tomorrow make way for Ben Brick and 6ft 5in Otago University student Harry Win-Hewetson.

Christophers said: “Our South African lads are fired up and have been eating raw meat in preparation for this game — Lloyd van Zyl is bowling quick. And his new-ball partner Phil Viljeon’s aggression in the field puts pressure on opposition batsmen.”

Campion, who lifted the Naden-Taylor Trophy from Horouta for the first time last weekend, are brimfull of energy and purpose ahead of their clash with the Bollywood High School Old Boys President’s.

The match will be played on the No.2 pitch, which wasn’t used in Round 6. The teams can expect a hard wicket with good even bounce.

Campion’s bowling attack has good variety. Max Briant, though verging on two metres tall, bowls a full length with outswing when in good form. Blake Marshall tends to skid at batsmen (complementing that with the odd throat-ball). Leg-spinner Liam Barbier took 2-22 against Horouta. Luke Hurlstone, Cam Rowell, Rhys Grogan and Matt King are more-than-useful operators as well.

President’s knocked previously unbeaten competition leaders Ngatapa off their perch in their last outing, and the Isaac Hughes-led HSOB are up for a big performance.

Joining their ranks tomorrow will be former Pirates all-rounder Simon Blaker. The tall Blaker has been a talented off-spinner and fierce competitor since his GBHS days.

His inclusion will further strengthen a strong top order of Ollie Needham, Glen Udall and Matt Jefferd. Needham was HSOB man of the match against Ngatapa, carrying his bat for 81 not out.

Hughes has said his players are looking forward to maintaining their form with the bat and doing so in partnerships. His counterpart, Campion captain Liam Spring, can’t wait to do battle.

“As underdogs we are prepared for the challenge and have one of our strongest teams, on paper, to date,” Hughes said.

“The boys are looking forward to showing what we’re really made of.”

Spring’s tone makes a refreshing change from the constant emphasis on humility from many skippers. It is good to see a young cricketer and his teammates wanting to compete hard in every facet of play.

Gisborne Boys’ High School versus Ngatapa: it’s a chance for the younger team to show what they’re made of.

Regular captain Daniel Stewart is standing down to ensure that every other available member of the 15-strong squad plays, and wicketkeeper Jack Whitehead-McKay will also be a non-batsman.

Stewart said: “It will be good to have a little break and I think now everyone knows that anyone can be the non-batsman.”

Cohen Loffler, Matt Foster, Nathan Trowell, Dan Watts and Luke Fisher now have the main responsibility for run-scoring.

Chris Hurlstone, the Civil Project Solutions Ngatapa Green Caps player co-ordinator, said: “We’re looking to bounce back after our loss to HSOB. We’ll be close to full strength and determined to get back on the horse.”

Ngatapa didn’t play badly at all against HSOBP. The margin of victory in the top-of-the-table clash was only 16 runs.

But the Green Caps don’t need any more incentive than that.