University make case for cup revamp

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 19/11/2012

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It will be a few more months before the jury's in on the merits of the Pearce Cup revamp.

At this early stage, though, the most compelling reason for having all 13 clubs playing in the same grade is being provided by University.

Hazlett Trophy also-rans for years, University are now one of the early Pearce Cup co-leaders. On Saturday they posted another bonus-point win, courtesy of a 39-run victory over Johnsonville.

It is still early days and the varsity holidays are yet to completely kick in. But, for now at least, University look capable of being genuinely competitive this summer.

"The new competition has given our club a chance at a new start really," University captain James Boyle said.

"The new competition has put on onus on those Hazlett teams to get organised and run themselves a bit more professionally and put together a better cricketing offering and we've certainly improved in that regard."

Attracting students to the club was one of the first things Boyle and coach Graham Murray set about doing.

Knowing University were not up to much, many of their target market had started going elsewhere. But players like Auckland opener Matt Lewis and Australian legspinner Cam Hawkins are examples of a change in that trend.

Both played important roles in the rain-affected win over Johnsonville and are also part of Wellington's under-20 squad.

"I think it's good for Wellington cricket to have a strong University club and what Billy [Murray] and I want is to play positive cricket and bring these young guys through and then hopefully take some through to that Wellington [Firebirds] setup," Boyle said.

Lewis, in the first year of a law degree, hit 96 not out after University were inserted by Johnsonville.

The match was reduced to 34 overs a side, which was all University needed to record a useful win.

Lewis, who Boyle said hit the ball to all parts, ensured the students compiled a very-defendable total.

Johnsonville started well, but Hawkins (one for 26 off seven) slowed their scoring, before being replaced by Elliott Borren.

Johnsonville needed more than six an over at that point, and Borren made sure his medium pacers were full and straight and got handsomely rewarded for it.

In 4.2 overs he took five for nine and Johnsonville were bowled out for 144.

Elsewhere, co-leaders Karori beat Naenae Old Boys by 38 runs and Petone-Eastbourne moved themselves into third place on the table thanks to an eight-wicket win over struggling Wainuiomata.

Eastern Suburbs sit just behind Karori and University after their two-wicket win over the Wellington under-20s yesterday.

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Onslow and Upper Hutt had their first wins. The former beat Hutt District by eight wickets, while Upper Hutt edged past North City on run rate.

Collegians' clash with Taits was abandoned without a ball bowled.

- The Dominion Post

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