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The Manawatu side's outstanding victory over Wairarapa at the weekend showed the growth of the team and maturity of what still is predominantly a young side.
With the knowledge the team needed an outright victory to be guaranteed the crucial Hawke Cup challenge, the team put aside thoughts of what was happening in other games and focused on doing their job.
On the second day when needing to bowl the opposition out on a flat deck, player-coach Mike Mason felt his bowlers were ready to deliver and told the side before play he wouldn't be bowling in the innings.
The bowlers responded with a superb performance and Tim Richards showed with his first five-wicket haul for Manawatu, that skill and being able to move the ball is just as important as pace.
It was also pleasing to see the batting lineup step up as discussed in recent weeks, and start scoring hundreds with skipper Luke Murray bringing up his sixth ton for Manawatu and all-rounder Bevan Small scoring his maiden rep hundred.
First drop Mitchell Renwick looked headed for his first hundred before being sawn-off by a poor umpiring decision on 66.
The team will now make the long trek to Blake Park in Mount Maunganui for the challenge, and I'm sure everyone in the cricketing community is keen for the boys to bring the Lord Hawke Cup back to the might Watu for a ninth time.
■ I must also congratulate my Horowhenua-Kapiti brethren for their efforts during the weekend.
Earlier in the season, the Horowhenua-Kapiti senior rep team posted their first win in any competition in six years when knocking over Nelson in the Chapple Cup one-day competition. However, their comprehensive first-innings win against Wanganui broke a decade-long victory drought in the Hawke Cup.
Horowhenua-Kapiti have steadily improved under player-coach Ewen Thompson over the past two seasons, and it is great to see him get some reward for all his effort.
ET again led the way for the Nua, scoring 88 to set the platform for 18-year-old wicketkeeper-batsmen Matt Fowler to score a superb 179.
The 501 all out total is believed to be the highest score from a Horowhenua-Kapiti side.
There is probably only one person who also noticed that during the innings, Fowler became the youngest Horowhenua-Kapiti player at 18 years, four months and 18 days to score a senior representative hundred, beating the previous record-holder by 99 days.
I assure you, the former record holder is unhappy at losing one of the very few records he holds for anything!
■ The social six-a-side competition run last weekend was a major success and the Manawatu Cricket Association and Sport Manawatu have received a lot of feedback that enjoyed the event's emphasis on fun.
The MCA will look to run the competition annually and look to grow the event into something viewed as being a crucial part of the social calendar as much as just another sports event.
Such was the enthusiasm for the event and at the request of several teams, the MCA is looking at running a social six-a-side twilight competition for a month of Monday nights starting at the end of February. Details for people wanting to enter the competition will be available on the MCA website (mca.org.nz) or by contacting Dave Meiring at the MCA office.
- © Fairfax NZ News